Banarsi Lal and Dr. Pawan Sharma Every year 12th of January is celebrated as the National Youth Day in India to commemorate the birth anniversary of great spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda was a great religious leader whose ideals inspired the country’s youths. Swami Vivekananda was born on 12th of January, 1863 at Kolkatta, India. He was a Hindu monk and the main disciple of the mystic Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He was a great philosopher, poet, writer and orator. He always inspired the country’s youths for better education, work and dedication. He was an instrumental in introducing the philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world. He published lot of books from 1887until his death on 4th of July, 1902. Many schools, colleges, universities and various other organisations across the nation celebrate this day and various programmes such as processions, speeches, recitations, music, youth conventions, seminars, sports competitions are organised. Swami Vivekananda was extremely patriotic and is considered as a hero for his contributions to the philosophies of India. He was a voracious reader and used a wide range of subjects including the philosophy, religion, history, social science, art and literature. After his 1893 speech at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, he was called as the “Messenger of the Indian wisdom to the western world”. His thought provoking lectures, quotes and writings have been a subject of study and a great source of inspiration for the youths. Government of India declared the celebration of National Youth Day in 12th of January, 1984. Development of any nation depends on the development of its youths. Youths are more creative, energetic and innovative. It is highly important for any nation to encourage and support the young generation. Rural youths have indomitable energy and enthusiasm for the rural change. Migration of rural youths in urban areas in search of employment has risen fastly. This has resulted a decline in workforce in the agricultural sector. The advent of free market has been able to generate employment opportunities in the private sector which requires highly skilled workers. A majority of rural youth may not meet the criteria of private sector for a variety of reasons, like lack of advance technical expertise, inadequate trainings etc. The globalization process has brought certain changes whose implications for the rural society and the rural youths need to be thoroughly understood. Presently India is the youngest country in the world. As per the United Nations, youth is defined as a person in 15-24 years of age group whereas the census of India treats people in the age group of 15-29 years as youths. According to Baizerman (1991), in the third world countries youth have not been able to play a vital role in the developmental process and has remained a marginalized group. The participation of the rural Indian youth can be more impressive if more attention is paid on them. Mass media does not pay more attention on rural youths. Due to their proximity to institutions like universities, colleges, institutions of mass communication, political centres and by virtue of being an integral part of modernisation process like developing a rational outlook, adopting different sub-cultures and promoting cosmopolitanism, the urban youth continuously remains in the limelight. Rural areas are slow in their socio-economic development, slow pace of modernisation, industrialisation, overpowering presence of powerful but retrogressive social institutions, inequitable distribution of land and most significantly and underutilisation of human resources. The stereotype of rural youth is gullible, conservative and he himself tries to fastly change but cannot escape from the adverse impact of the aforementioned problems. The latest information should be reached to the rural youths of the remote areas. There has been a sustained campaign by the market forces to increase their rural marketing operations as three-fourths of the consumers live in rural areas and more than half of the national income is generated in rural areas. It has been observed that mostly television is the forte of the market forces and continuously promote consumerism which stimulates unrealistic desires in the rural youths. The political processes at the village level are intertwined with the operational aspects of the existing social hierarchy. It has been observed that rural youths are encouraged during elections campaign but the number of elected representatives from this segment is very low. Thus, despite their sincere efforts in the democratic processes they have a long way to go in holding positions and decentralisation of political power has not resulted in major changes in the social structure of villages. It has been observed that increasing population, overexploitation of biological resources, construction activities and changing consumption has led to the loss of bio-diversity. For all this rural population cannot be held responsible for excessive consumption as it is the youth of urban areas whose consumption levels reached new heights leading to enormous pressure on the natural resources. The industries release untreated effluents contaminating the water reserves which will expose the nearby rural population to waterborne diseases. The toxic wastes of the industries are dumped in the waste lands on the outskirts of the urban areas or nearby villages which poses a serious impediment to the wasteland development projects. Watershed development is a major agricultural activity. It is the youth of village who take the responsibility in the success of watershed projects like construction of check dams and water tanks. The educated rural youths can prevail on the rest of population to take steps to preserve ground water resources. Joint forest management is another dimension of environment protection. The youth in the villages can be mobilised to take care of illegal felling of trees and make social forestry programme successful. In rural areas gender discrimination is very high. Less literacy rate and traditional thinking of the people are the major reasons for the inferior status to the rural women. It has been observed that a large number of women representatives are chosen in the Panchayats. Despite their success the rightful ascendancy of women is questioned by the male dominated society and the position of rural female remains secondary in all aspects of life. Rural female youths in many cases have to marry below the stipulated age because of family pressure and obsolete norms of the community. The higher death rate of the rural female youths indicates the lack of availability of proper medical facilities during pregnancy and delivery, poor diet and lack of care of their family members towards their health. Early motherhood combined with lack of proper education and inadequate physical and mental maturity compound the problems of women. There is need to motivate the rural female youth to take part in her decision making. With the implementation of employment generating schemes, efforts should also be made to sensitise the rural youths on various social issues. The mass media, whose influence on society is quite significant, should be prevailed upon to increase the focus on developmental issues and social concerns. In order to avoid the rural migration government should encourage the rural based industries. More employment should be generated in the rural areas during the off season of the year. Development in rural areas can stop the rural migration and may reduce the pressure on the urban areas. (The writers are: Dr. Banarsi Lal, Scientist and Head of KVK, Reasi and Dr. Pawan Sharma, Scientist at KVK, Kathua (Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Jammu) (SKUAST-J).
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