Sunday, April 21, 2024

Meaningful investments

The voice of youth is conspicuously absent from the corridors of power, where policies are formulated and destiny is determined. As future leaders of society, young people are frequently cast aside, their viewpoints disregarded and their potential unrealised. It is time for Governments everywhere to realise how important it is to involve the young people in decision-making processes and to take advantage of the creativity, enthusiasm and vision that young people have to offer. Youth are, first and foremost, the lifeblood of the country. They actively participate in forming the societies they live in rather than being the passive receivers of policies. Disregarding their voices is equivalent to ignoring a country’s heartbeat. Young people bring new perspectives, direct experiences and unflinching idealism to the table. They challenge established wisdom and breathe life into stale government institutions. Today’s decisions will have a significant influence on the planet that future generations inherit. For the younger generation, social fairness, economic injustice and climate change are not merely abstract ideas; rather, they are harsh realities that will influence their lives and means of subsistence for many decades to come. By engaging youth in decision-making processes, Governments can ensure that policies are not only forward-thinking but also responsive to the pressing concerns of the next generation. Youth inclusion fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment among young people, instilling in them a commitment to civic engagement and responsible citizenship. When Governments actively involve youth in decision-making, they send a powerful message ~ that young voices matter, that their opinions count and that they have a stake in shaping the future of their communities and countries. Critics may argue that youth lack the experience and expertise necessary for effective governance. However, this argument overlooks the transformative power of youth perspectives and the capacity of young people to learn and adapt. Indeed, history is replete with examples of young leaders who have defied expectations and catalysed positive change through their passion, determination and innovative thinking. In the recent months, many pundits have suggested that the demographics of a young population would benefit India in terms of an abundance of youthful energy and an ability to generate income and innovations through their engagement with new technology. But that has not been the case. There are numerous reasons for this. First off, the access to high quality education has been uneven for most of India’s youth. There are many college graduates and school dropouts, but most employers say they are not employable. Their broad global awareness, communication skills, interpersonal skills and technical proficiency are all lacking. There are also few jobs. The ones that are available are for a select few who have had the good fortune to get a good education. The youth have a dismal future because there aren’t many employment opportunities available and traditional livelihoods are becoming less and less viable. Technology creates divisions as well. Not everyone has access to computers or is even somewhat familiar with the fundamentals of software. Most young people have smartphones, but they are used merely to watch films, play games or send texts. In actuality, the demographic dividend has evolved into a demographic tax. These young people are available for political exploitation: they are easily swayed by powerful leaders. They are handed some loose change to fiddle with. Their tendency towards violence and unreasonable rage is a result of their disenchantment with life and sense of powerlessness. This is not good news for any society or nation. The younger generation is expected to lead the fight against growing economic inequality, social division and climate change. A select few are fortunate enough to migrate to greener pastures. The remaining ones feel trapped. Economic and social crises intertwine to produce political fragmentations that divide people. Thus, it is incumbent upon Governments to take concrete steps to integrate youth into decision-making processes at all levels. This entails creating meaningful opportunities for youth participation. It also requires investing in youth leadership development, providing training, mentorship and resources to empower young people.