Thursday, November 30, 2023

Need space

We cannot overemphasize the need to factor in the young generation’s perception in government policy at all levels – education, health, economy, etc. The importance of youth is accentuated in areas experiencing instability! This is because of the desire to leave for the upcoming generation a situation better than that experienced by the elders. It also pertains to the hope that the youth will bring about a change for the better. It is against this backdrop that engagement of youth in our state takes predominance. It is a generation that wishes to grow wings and fly out but is not getting the right opportunity or the environment to do so; it is suffering due to no fault of its own. With youth forming majority of the state’s population, chronic unemployment and under-employment has spawned problems here. The youth bulge in our state can either be an asset or a danger to the society depending on how effectively we involve them in the task of reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation. Our new age generation is intelligent, hardworking and forward looking, this much is obvious by the large numbers that are achieving laurels in various fields at the regional and national level. Most youngsters who were given the opportunity seem to be making the best of the same. There is no dearth of aspirations among the younger lot; the need is a little trust in their abilities and impetus in the right direction. Unfortunately for years the aspirations of our youths have been ignored by successive governments and politicians of all shades. Today there is urgent need for viable institutional interventions to forge connect with them and build an architecture of hope and dignity for our youth and their identity. There is need for a new road map for their empowerment and engagement. There is a need to make our youths politically empowered, socially responsible, ethically aware and economically independent citizens. One way to do that would be to give them sense of hope, purpose and direction. We need to integrate their dynamism, creativity and power and provide them space in the sunrise arenas of the new economy – banking, information technology, and infrastructure building, etc. Equally essential is to rebuild our society which has become harsh, punitive, withdrawn, fearful and extremely distrustful. This cannot be done in isolation. Here one must understand that it is not only about political leadership. Even as we see a confluence of youth in the political arena, a similar change has to happen in the business arena too. We need younger business leaders. Indeed, this is not about politics alone. It is about business, about fourth estate, it is about leadership. And here we come back to issues of icons in our civil society. We need a generational spokesman whose role is to get people in their 20s and 30s involved in politics. The new generation cannot reasonably expect the political establishment to address, let alone fix, the sobering problems they are to inherit, unless they start participating in the political process, and learn to flex their generational muscle. Whether or not they do so will depend on two more immediate questions: Does this generation share a set of political beliefs? And if so, how might these translate into a political agenda and an economic philosophy? Indeed the youth bulge should awaken us to develop progressive partnerships so that the danger of a foggy and black cloudy sky over our state is removed. Today we are facing a situation of joblessness. What should we do? There is need for multi-stakeholder approach to create space for the young. In the coming day the situation will be more challenging. Resources of all sorts, already scarce, will get even more scarce. Before we run out of fuel, we are running out of water. There will be greater uncertainty in our environment – political, social and economic. The young people have time on their side but governments need to find time to listen to them.