Losing our youth

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

“The child is the father of the man…”, “Children are the future of the world” are commonly used quotes. The population of youth is multiplying by manifolds in India. About half of India’s 133 crore population is under the age of 25. About two-thirds are less than 35 years of age. By 2020, the average age in India will be 29 years and it is set to become the world’s youngest country. It implies that the future of our nation and the world depends primarily on the youth.
With this burgeoning young population, the nation and the world face the daunting task of providing suitable employment opportunities to these restless youth. Lack of job opportunities is leading to frustration in many youth and many disgruntled youth are resorting to other harmful distractions like drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc.
The other aspect dampening the prospects of youth is the lure for harmful habits like smoking, drinking and drug addiction. Being groomed by tribal lifestyle, many youth get exposed to drinking alcohol at a very young age. Many youth start emulating adults by drinking alcohol even during day. The odd aspect typical to North East India is that women also drink almost at par with men. Similarly, many adults are addicted to drugs like opium and bhang in our villages. Therefore, children are exposed to drugs at an early age.
Other aspects shortening the lives of our youth is drunken driving, underage driving and drowning in rivers and lakes. A common sight in our state is the prevalence of many scooters/bikes parked outside our high/higher secondary schools. It is a common feature to see young school boys and girls openly driving scooters/bikes in school uniforms. These errant students are not checked by teachers, school staff, police etc. In fact, many parents encourage their underage children to drive to school.
In most tourist spots, riversides and lakesides, one of the most distasteful sights is that of littered beer cans and liquor bottles. There is a report that Arunachal has the highest per capita IMFL consumption in the nation! Many youth have been lost due to drunken driving and drowning caused by entering rivers and lakes in a drunken state.
Due to dependencies on expensive liquor, smoking, drugs etc, many youths are resorting to lying to parents or blackmailing parents. Some youth are resorting to theft, arson and loot to meet their expensive tastes. Once addicted to these vices, many students start missing classes and dropping out of schools altogether.
Many youth have talent. As a society, maybe we are failing to provide a healthy platform for our youth to perform and excel. There are very few government schemes and NGOs venturing into this sensitive but important aspect of grooming our youth. Even the many student/youth bodies are busy with bigger issues of governance rather than grooming our misguided youth. Misguided youths need to be groomed and brought back into the mainstream of our society. Else our future is bleak. It is a clear and present danger! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)