The youth demography profile of India presents interesting statistics with every third person in an Indian city today being a youth. According to a report titled ‘State of the Urban Youth, India 2012: Employment, Livelihoods, Skills’, the median individual in India will be 29 years in another seven years, making India the youngest country in the world. Behind the statistics of course lie the possibility of numerous stories of a teeming young population with their dreams, aspirations and energy. The sheer number of the youth population throws up a world of opportunities where the young will take part in the economy, polity and Governance. But the reality is that a majority of the young population belongs to impoverished backgrounds with limited access to a standard level of education, health care and sanitation. Existing and persistent social and economic inequalities where the increase in cost of living is a reality in urban pockets means that unskilled workers amongst the young brigade will be burdened by the costs of their lives. Regional disparities that prevail in the country means that the more developed states will be looking at a future where its youths will have more services, income, opportunities et el on hand while the least developed and low developed states will not have much to rejoice over. Not surprisingly, the statistics of the youth brigade also reflect a skewed gender shift with projections of a growing male population due to current practices of female foeticide.
According to projections based on the 2011 census, there are approximately 240 million youth in India which is about 20% of the total population. These figures translated into hard facts means that the exact number mentioned here will be on the look out for jobs and spouses or sexual partners. Experts say that by 2020, India is set to become the world’s youngest country with 64 per cent of its population in the working age group and economists believe that the youth may end up adding a significant 2 per cent to the GDP growth rate. But a lot would have to be planned out to harness the youth brigade on a positive track: in terms of ensuring equal opportunity for quality education, imparting skill based trainings and involving young people in existing social, polity and economic processes.
If we are to talk of Manipur’s youth, we would have to start by accepting that the cream of the young brigade are based out of the state. While many are also serving in lower rung service sectors, a majority of the young are perched in the top levels of the IT sector and medical, even as a few are making forays into the IIT and IAS world, in the hospitality and management sector and in Government services. They are spread across the country and over various countries, taken away by the opportunities that came their way and reflecting on its lack inside the state. Many of these people started out by going out of the state in their search for a better educational environment and one where merit will be given precedence over the ability to pay for a post. A majority of the state’s youth have left a poignant legacy of empty rooms and empty beds in most households that unfortunately looks unlikely to be filled in any sooner. A sizeable population living well outside the state understandably raises the issue of remittances or inflow of finances back into the state but the lack of viable investing options in the state and the poor state of Government agencies means that this practice is non existent. However, not everything is about gloom and doom for there are a few who have set their sights on coming back and trying to establish working environments by taking up social or enterprising ventures.
Overall, the advent of various social media outlets including various forms of the media have led to an interesting social and political phase where the young are growing articulate and more aware through their engagements with various issues. The pitfall here though is that while many voices may be vocal and articulate on such forums, there is not much in terms of real action on the ground. The blame for this may partly be on the fact that in terms of social and cultural interactions in the state, there is still a very limited space for involving young people. This would have to change for young people can contribute to the world around them.