Thursday, August 7, 2014

Inspire the Youth

Sikkim now has a Youth Development Board, a progression from the Youth Empowerment Year that the State observed some years ago and the institution of the Livelihood Schools [as part of the capacity building initiative] which are also dedicated to the younger Sikkimese. There have also been such efforts as the CMSES loans and the efforts to ignite a cooperative movement in the State which were also clearly intended for the youth and expected to be powered by them into self sustenance. And yet, while all of these have been excellent initiatives which were earnestly mooted, they have all, let’s accept it, under-performed. Now that Sikkim has a Youth Development Board, it is important that it first figure out why the youth in Sikkim are so uninspired so as to allow what are on paper, wonderful ideas to deliver only token results. Because once that has been worked out, the Board will be able to dovetail all the youth-centric policy interventions into a powerful movement which could gain momentum and snowball into a process which makes succeeding and excelling a habit for the youth here. At present, a dangerous sense of entitlement is making entire generations lazy and unmotivated. This has to be turned around because not only is such lethargy unhealthy, but it is also dangerous because it is only a matter of time before sloth sets in and then failures compound into mindsets which find blame in everything and fester with negativity. The warning signs are already apparent, and course corrections an urgent requirement.
One wonders why the youth-directed efforts have not been as successful as they should have been in Sikkim because youth are clearly a very important segment. The Sikkim Democratic Front party president had announced in his election campaign that he would be grooming his replacement in the new term if he was elected to power. He has led his party to a record fifth term in power since. The Opposition party, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, continues to project itself as a party of the youth. What this proves is that the youth are recognised as an important segment. Policies and schemes aimed for them are thus expected to be earnest because they were already an influential group in Elections 2014 and will be even more so in 2019. At present, the 18 to 25 age-group constitutes nearly 25% of the electorate. In other words, 25% of the voters have known no other government by SDF’s in Sikkim. There is then another slot of 25-40 which is just about as many and is also a club which was barely coming of age when SDF swept into power in Sikkim. For them as well, all the ups and downs that governance, administration or policy decisions delivered on their lives, came courtesy the SDF government.
For all calls on the people to compare how things were in Sikkim before 1994 [the year that SDF took office in Sikkim] and how things have been since will soon be academic exercises because by 2019, perhaps a majority of the voters would have known no other time [being too young in pre-1994 days or having been born since]. This segment, apart from being a political force, will more importantly be the first post-Merger generation in position at almost all levels-  from the decision-making to the executive and the entry-level officials. Ensuring that they are prepared in the best possible manner and inspired to contribute to their utmost level thus becomes a necessary undertaking. And starting from why the youth are already not as idealistic and driven as their age mandates them to be, should be the first understanding that the Youth Development Board acquires.

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