INTRODUCTION: “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 ducational 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. EDUCATION, POVERTY AND UNEMPLOYMENT: Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity. ”- Aristotle It is a well know fact that education is the blood of life. Though several acts have been passed by the Government of India to address, perhaps, the greatest problem in India, education has not reached every child in our country. Illiteracy can lead to far more significant problems such as 1. Unemployment 2. Poverty 3. Unhealthy life style 4. Drugs 5. AIDS/HIV and 6. terrorism. 7. Deterioration in cultural ethics Illiteracy has the potential to cripple any strong nation and unfortunately, it is a persistent problem in India.
Though many government schemes and organizations such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, National Literacy Mission, Janshala and Operation Blackboard etc exist, India has a very large number of illiterates according to the UN development project 2006 report. What is the reason for such a prevalent condition in India? One reason is ignorance. People are not aware of the various schemes and scholarships awarded by the government. Another reason is poverty. Due to lack of sufficient funds many students are forced to let go their dreams of becoming a doctor or engineer or whatever they aspire to be.
In spite of scoring high marks, some students are unable to pursue their dreams and get a college degree. But more emphasis must be laid on the signifcance of education and this massive task can be implemented successfully only by educated youngsters with an ardor and interest in the development of our nation. Youngsters should also develop the will to say no to illegal activities including consumption of drinks and other deragotary actions. Lack of adequate education degree deems the student unfit to attend white collar jobs, leading to unemployment. And in this world of booming economy, money is the way of life.
With unemployment, indigence tags along. And ultimately it leads to violence and terrorism since poverty is the mother of crime. As Nelson Mandela quoted, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. ” Every citizen of the nation must realize the significance of education in today’s world and its positive impact on life. Youth must enlighten the students on various educational programs, schemes and scholarships granted by the government and encourage students to have be broadminded and continue with the process of education because education can never have a period.
And after education, all students should not be persistent about going to a white collar job. They should be open-minded and equal priority should be given to sustain the indigenous skills too. Young people should consider education seriously and should never compromise on it. Illiteracy is a curse on humankind. The more illiterate people are in India, the more difficult it will be for India to develop. Without literacy, every field would be an armed combat. Our country tree is in great need of pruning and the first step for the government is to come up with an effectual illiteracy eradication scheme, powered by the support of youth. . DETERIORATION IN HUMAN VALUES: Human lives and cultural ethics has lost its value tremendously in the last few decades. Youngsters should realise that “every man for himself” will not work for the development of our nation. We have to realise that we are in democratic country and we should not express bigotry and narrowness. But unfortunately, most of our people are indifferent to the problems faced by our country and that attitude will not contribute anything to our improvement. Youngsters should adapt a positive approach to life.
They must learn to respect all people and value the importance of life. Humanity is declining at an alarming rate and steps must be taken to restore humanity and peace back in this world. We must learn to live together harmoniously irrespective of our differences and value truth, honesty and humanity more than anything else in this world. 3. POPULATION EXPLOSION: The problem of rapid population growth must be seriously considered and immediately addressed. It took the entire history of humankind for the population to reach 1 billion around 1810.
Just 120 years later, this doubled to 2 billion people (1930); then 4 billion in 1975 (45 years). The number of people in the world has risen from 4. 4 billion people in 1980 to 5. 8 billion today. And it is estimated that the population could double again to nearly 11 billion in less than 40 years. This means that more people are now being added each day than at any other time in human history. Looking ahead, total population is likely to reach 10 billion by 2025 and grow to 14 billion by the end of the next century unless birth control use increases dramatically around the world within the next two decades.
This is like adding the whole population of china to the world every decade and its impact on the world economy and environment can be very disastrous. Rapid human population growth has many consequences. Overpopulation affects the standard of living and is strongly correlated with poverty. And overpopulation and poverty together have long been associated with unhealthy life style and loss of lives. A large family living in unhealthy conditions is undoubtedly vulnerable to health and cleanliness problems along with acute food shortage.
If the population continues to grow at this alarming rate then there will be severe demand for water, food, health care, technology and education in the future. Massive efforts must be taken in order to keep the social and economic conditions from deteriorating further. Prevalence of this condition may lead to lack of even adequate supplies of basic materials needed to sustain life and subsequently degrade the value of human life. Articulate ways of handling this situation are: *Educating the people about the dire consequences of overpopulation, which is mainly observed in sub urban and rural areas.
UNO and many other NGO’s have employed youth to spread awareness about the ill effects of population explosion and ways of keeping it under control. * Youngsters should travel to many villages and discuss about population issues elaborately. * Facts like size and rate of population growth should be in the head of every citizen. * Action plans and strategies must be developed to help the public understand the gravity and seriousness of the situation. 4. INCREASED CONSUMPTION OF ENERGY AND RESOURCES: The resource production ratio of fossil fuel is 41 years for oil, 63 years for natural gas and 218 years for coal.
It is expected that after the depletion of oil and natural gas there will be a growing use of coal. Natural resources have remained virtually untouched in earth for millions of years. But since the advent of industrial age, all the resources have been exploited within two centuries and if we continue to consume at this alarming rate, then the resources will be exhausted within the next 2-3 centuries. In other words the fossil fuel age that we are living through at this moment is nothing but a blink of eyes in terms of the long history of the earth.
In 2008, total worldwide energy consumption was 474 exajoules (474? 1018 J) with 80 to 90 percent derived from the combustion of fossil fuels. This is equivalent to an average power consumption rate of 15 terawatts (1. 504? 1013 W). Not all of the world’s economies track their energy consumption with the same rigor, and the exact energy content of a barrel of oil or a ton of coal will vary with quality. We have to realize that most of these resources are non-renewable. Hence it is mandatory that we use the natural resources efficiently and wisely, keeping the future generations in our mind.
As Mother Teresa quoted,” We cannot do great things, but only small things with great love”. Many little things can be done with the objective of conserving energy for the use of generations to come by and also for the preservation of the ecosystem around us. All the energy and power consumption techniques must be practiced and spread by the youth, like using bicycle instead of powered vehicles which accounts to almost 60% of air pollution, installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, buying energy efficient appliances and so on. 5. ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION AND GLOBAL WARMING:
Environmental pollution is an issue of serious discussion. The sources of air pollution, water pollution and soil pollution have been vastly discussed and its consequences have put all our human lives in great peril. We are all well aware of the BP gulf oil disaster along the coasts of USA and its vast implications upon the marine and coastal lives. There is no doubt that excessive levels of pollution are causing a lot of damage to human & animal health, plants & trees (including tropical rainforests) as well as the wider environment.
All types of environmental pollution – air, water and soil pollution – have an impact on the living environment. The effects in living organisms may range from mild discomfort to serious diseases such as cancer to physical deformities (for example, extra or missing limbs in frogs). Experts admit that environmental pollution effects are quite often underestimated and that more research is needed to understand the connections between pollution and its effects on all life forms. We know that pollution causes not only physical disabilities but also psychological and behavioral disorders in people.
Environmental pollution affects all forms of lives in general. All living things on this planet are interconnected and coexist. Hence human beings exploitation of nature can have far more serious consequences and impact on other living things, than we can possibly imagine. We have to realize that nature is us and work towards it with a holistic view. Global warming is another topic of serious discussion. Global warming refers to the increase in temperature of Earth’s average surface air.
Global warming has led to a fast and unnatural increase of temperature which is enough to cause the climate conditions to change rapidly and often cataclysmically. And this is a serious consequence of the greenhouse effect. Global warming has a giant effect on weather, climate zones, plants and animals, sea life, glaciers and river flow. In response, our planet has been changing with warming winds and rising seas. The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1997, according to meteorologists. 2005 and 1998 were the warmest. At the poles and in mountains, ice is melting and glaciers are receding.
Arctic sea ice reach the smallest summer extent ever recorded in the past few years. Even in Antarctica, where winter sea ice has been larger in extent recently, it melts back much more than before in the summers, affecting the food supply of whales and penguins. The planet has heavier downpours now but also deeper droughts. Down into the temperate zone, change is rearranging the boundaries of life. The plants and animals with which we share the planet are adapting and moving — some even going extinct — because they have no choice.
We six billion humans are being affected, too. Coastal towns are suffering from rising sea level, storms are getting more intense and 35,000 people died in European heat waves in 2003. However, we have choices to make to help correct and ameliorate global warming. This is a story of frightening scale and great urgency that is just beginning to be told. “Nature has infinite beauty; to preserve it is our duty” should be the motto of every youth and contribute to the preservation of our beautiful eco system because if we disturb the nature, the nature will disturb us. . SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH: Economic growth is defined as quantitative change or expansion over a country’s economy. Economic growth is conventionally measured as the percentage increase in gross domestic product (GDP) or gross national product (GNP) during one year. Economic growth comes in two forms: an economy can either grow “extensively” by using more resources (such as physical, human, or natural capital) or “intensively” by using the same amount of resources more efficiently (productively). When conomic growth is achieved by using more labor, it does not result in per capita income growth. But when economic growth is achieved through more productive use of all resources, including labor, it results in higher per capita income and improvement in people’s average standard of living. Intensive economic growth requires economic development. So what does sustainable economic growth mean? It is development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs. Our planet is one with finite resources.
Population growth has a very serious effect on the economic growth of a country. With population growth in developing countries, there is also an increase in the growth rates of gross domestic products (GDP). If the GDP production increases, then the usage of resources for its manufacture will also increase and so will the consumption of the product again. This will lead to depletion of the non renewable resources at a higher rate sparing nothing for the future generation. Since the intake of raw materials increase, the capital invested also becomes large.
An effective solution would be to use a better technology which would use the same amount of raw materials but increase the productivity. Economic growth combined with technological progress could mean that our energy sources are provided by renewable energy. Economic growth provided by better productivity and, technological advancement can enable higher living standards and higher GDP without depleting the earth’s resources. However, just because growth can theoretically occur with increased productivity / technology, doesn’t mean there are not constraints on growth.
We may find that the externalities of growth negatively affect living standards much more than we anticipate. We also currently have a dependence on fossil fuels. If we are lucky we may have a smooth transition as they run out. But, it is quite likely that we will struggle to replace them as easily as we would like, this could place constraints on growth. Hence the physical, natural and economic resources must be managed rationally. CONCLUSION: The goals for the millennium have been set. But it lies in the hands of the youth to implement it because an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.