"This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease." - Robert Kennedy
According to the population survey taken in the year 1995 by the UN, youth (15-24 years of age) comprises 18% of the world population with 85% of them living in developing countries, with approximately 60% in Asia alone. And especially in India, 47% of population is below the age of 20. So why is so much of emphasis laid on this 18% of the world population? Why do we depend so much on the potential of youth?
As Rabindranath Tagore quoted, “Age considers, youth ventures.”, young people are curious and are risk takers. They have lots of courage and are full of alacrity. They venture out into the world that is immense, dark and dangerous without any inhibitions. He/she initially trusts life and the processes of life. Young people do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation. It is undeniable that today’s youth are the makers and pillars of tomorrow’s world because young people are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and more fit for new projects than for settled business.
But how do we tackle this source of immense potential and direct it towards the development of our world considering the pathetic situation the young people are in? The whole world expects our youth to play a significant role in the search for new principles that would not only define but also enable stability in our world filled with political uncertainty and chaos. Though the youth exhibit their zealousness and willingness to be part of changes that affect the world positively, there are many forces that deter them from participating with complete involvement and commitment too. Problems faced by youth are too many to be enumerated in a nut shell. They are faced by numerous obstacles that shadow their bright future, including limited educational opportunities, Hunger and poverty, Health, Environment, Drug abuse, Juvenile delinquency, Leisure-time activities, Girls and young women, Full and effective participation of youth in the life of society and in decision-making, unemployment, violence, child abuse, sexual abuse, social and peer pressure, Globalization, Information and Communication Technologies, HIV/AIDS, Youth and Conflict, Intergenerational Relations and the list goes on endlessly.
It has been estimated that 86% of the 10-24 yrs old live in less developed countries with limited access to the basic amenities, in spite of industrialization and urbanization. With inadequate education, they are unable to grab jobs paying high salaries. So most of them are either unemployed or working long hours for less wages. While all these factors make them feel insecure in the job market and life, how can we expect them to commit themselves to the betterment of the world we live? This puts them only between a rock and a hard place. Though every youth wants to put the world in front of him, he cannot escape the realities of hunger and penury for a long time. So the conditions of youth must be elevated and if their problems are addressed first, then it will naturally lead to a better world. Faced with the challenges of the 21st century, young people are acknowledging that their local, national and international systems of decision-making lack concrete avenues for sufficient participation. While traditional social and political systems continue to fail to offer representation or successful solutions and meaningful opportunities for youth to contribute to their world and future, young people will remain trapped in a cycle of poverty, violence and missed opportunity.
So what are the millennium development goals, challenges and opportunities that the youth should attend to? 1.
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