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“In A Country Obsessed With Religion & Politics, Do Young People Matter?”

On India’s 68th independence day, our honourable prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi had said that:

My brothers and sisters, ours is a country of young people. 65% of the population of the country is under the age of 35 years. Our country has the largest number of youth in the world. Have we ever thought of deriving an advantage out of it?” [1]

It seems like the government itself hasn’t thought of it, if we look at the actions in policy, budgeting and commitment to international instruments. It also raises a question: what kind of advantage is PM Modi referring to?

The current policies and programmes focus on “economic development”, which sees the youth as a demographic dividend, a kind of resource to be reaped like the minerals, cattle and forests of this country.

Young People Are Neglected In India

The youth is not just a resource. Also, what about the “peace dividend” that the youth offers? Maybe, the government of India has forgotten its youth. That is why the youth of India still awaits the new youth policy and has been, since 2019.

We are already in 2022 and the Ministry of Youth Affairs has still not launched a new youth policy, nor have they published any official apology for the delay.

A poster featuring PM Modi on a National Youth Festival poster.
Photo credit: Twitter.

The old National Youth Policy of 2014 was due to expire in 2019. Blaming it on the pandemic will not help here because there was no pandemic till March 2020.

Moreover, India was able to organise full-fledged elections and the Kumbh mela during the pandemic. Meanwhile, several other policies and laws were passed in the parliament. In this country obsessed with religion and assembly seats, is the youth really a priority?

We Signed The Youth Peace & Security Agenda

Based on my own calculations, the budget allocation for 2021-22 for core youth affairs and leadership in India, is just ₹21 (approximately) per young person.

Over the past 5 years, only 0.07-0.09% of the total budget has been allocated to the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports. Of this, roughly two-thirds is allocated to sports.

Most of the remaining budget is used for making youth volunteers instead of leaders. This shows the so-called “priority” given to the young population of India.

 

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Probably, a young chai wala would know that youth affairs need more support so as to avoid selling pakoras on the street. Indian youth await their achhe din.

Another unfulfilled commitment has been to implement the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250, also known as the Youth Peace & Security (YPS) Agenda.

Young People And Peacemaking Processes

As a signatory to the UNSC, India pledged to implement this agenda on December 9, 2015. A much smaller neighbouring country, Sri Lanka, and an African country Nigeria, have made progress on this, but not India.  

“The UNSCR 2250 (2015) identifies five key pillars for action: participation, protection, prevention, partnerships and disengagement and reintegration. This landmark resolution urges member states to give youth a greater voice in decision-making at the local, national, regional and international levels and to consider setting up mechanisms that would enable young people to participate meaningfully in peacebuilding processes.” [3].

The implementation: unfulfilled. India ranked 135 out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index (incidentally, Sri Lanka ranked 95 on the same index); and 122 out of 152 countries on the Youth Development Index (Sri Lanka ranked 61 here). [4]

RTI Request Yielded No Results

Since this resolution is legally binding, one youth peacebuilder from Uttar Pradesh filed a Right To Information appeal, demanding information from the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, in order to understand the implementation status of this resolution.

RTI response
Photo credit: the author.

He received an ignorant and legally offensive response: “The information requested by you is not available in the records of this division.” I have attached a copy of the same above.

 

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Indian ambassadors and leaders talk so highly about ourselves, when we become even a temporary member of the UNSC. Also, we tooted our horns when taking up the presidency of the UNSC for a month.

But, when it comes to implementing its resolution that we ratified, we shamelessly respond that no progress has been made so far.

We, The Young People Of India

Even after six years of adopting the YPS Agenda, the contributions and rights of the Indian youth engaged in peace and security seem to be the last thing on the mind of our policy makers.

So, on this national youth day, we, the young people of India, would like to remind you, dear PM, of your speech. We want to convey that: yes, we think of taking advantage of our youth daily—meaningfully, actively, socially and politically.

It’s you and the other stakeholders, who need to enable it by recognising and supporting the key role played by Indian youths, to build and sustain peace in our communities. 

__

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.pmindia.gov.in/en/news_updates/text-of-pms-address-in-hindi-to-the-nation-from-the-ramparts-of-the-red-fort-on-the-68th-independence-day/?comment=disable&tag_term=independence-day
  2. https://yas.nic.in/sites/default/files/MYAS%20Annual%20Report%20English_2020-21.pdfhttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/union-budget-2021-education-unemployment-youth-7098450/
  3. https://www.youth4peace.info/UNSCR2250/Introduction
  4. https://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/inline/5023_V3_Book_lores_smaller.pdf

This piece has been written in collaboration with Sameer and the members of Indian Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security (ICYPS).

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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