Youth & Sports Development Initiatives in North Eastern Region of India

By Rajesh Malhotra
Director ( M & C), Press Information Bureau, New Delh

New Delhi, Feb 23, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB-India) India is on the threshold of an unique demographic dividend youth being a major strategic asset. This “Youth Bulge” in the light of its impact on work participation and dependency ratio has been called a window of opportunity in terms of growth and development of our country, an opportunity which would need to be seized before the window closes. This poses its own challenges with reference to inclusive growth and the need to bridge divides. The requirements for this will transcend sectoral programmes, and would require a variety of interventions and programmes aimed at addressing the youth in a multi-dimensional manner. The Government has been working for youth volunteerism, community service and personality development of young men and women for about 40 years.

While out lining his ministry’s vision and objective with respect to the North Eastern States, Shri Ajay Maken, Union Minister of State (I/C) for Youth Affairs & Sports  underlined that, Skill development among youth is aimed at facilitating employment; evolving sports as a source of employment and prestige and  Preservation as well propagation of the rich cultural heritage of the region.

The average population of youth between the age of 15-35 years in the North East is to the tune of 43% and there was a need to channelize them into the national mainstream though positive intervention aiding gainful and meaningful employment. Nagaland with 45.68% youth population leads with the average percentage of youth in NER. This is followed by Sikkim with 45.20 %, Manipur with 44.38%, Mizoram with 43.99%, Tripura with 43.58%, Assam with 42.58%, Arunachal with 41.03 % and Meghalaya with 40.90%.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports  endeavours to harness this youth energy through its youth network namely the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangthan (NYKS) with a strong presence of 3.7 million youth volunteers in 501 districts of the country, the National Youth Corps Volunteers (NYC) in almost every Block and youth clubs members in one lakh villages across the country.  In addition, National Service Scheme (NSS) operates through State Governments/Universities with presence in 251 universities, 15000 colleges and 8000 senior secondary schools.

NYKS Initiative in NE

In the North Eastern States, NYKS  presence in 59 District  out of the 86 districts of eight states with District  youth Coordinators (DYC), 1027 National Youth Corps Volunteers (NYC) and  10475 active Youth Clubs  in the region.

A major developmental goal of NYKS is to strengthen human resources capacity of the youth through skill development training and make them employable. Providing employable skill to youth will be effective response to the growing problem of unemployment, youth unrest, violence and terrorism. This will not only bring peace, harmony and prosperity but will also will cater to the needs of the organized sector & enhance productivity.

In this light, the Skill Development Training of rural youth belonging to North-East states assumes greater significance. A variety of employable skill based training courses will be imparted through recognized Vocational Training Providers (VTPs). The proposed training programme  will be completed in three years for the National Youth Corps (NYC) volunteers and for the selected Youth Club members of NE Region. It is proposed to train 1027 NYC volunteers and 5900 youth club members across 59 districts in north eastern region, in the 1st phase.

The target youth will be identified well in advance. The need assessment in regard to imparting training on employable skills shall be drawn up in consultation with the various stakeholders such as industry partners, Director General of Employment & Training, State Governments etc. Emphasis will be given on those locations which fall upon the local resources and are relevant in local needs. The next level of assessment shall be the stakeholders who will be providing the vocational training programmes and if need arises training shall be arranged outside the North East region. Special emphasis would be given on soft skills, communication skills and the computing skills.

NSS in  NE State

National Service Scheme (NSS) is one of the flagship programmes of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports aimed at developing character and personality of student in schools and colleges. NSS has more than 3.2 million student volunteers on its roll. The expenditure incurred in running the Scheme, is shared by the Centre and State Governments in the ratio of 7:5 and for North East Region including Sikkim the ratio is 3:1. In J&K and all the Union Territories, the programme is 100% funded by the Government.

The total NSS volunteers allocated to the North Eastern states is 1,29,386 (male: 72085 and Female: 52,077), having a male: female ratio of 7:5. Approximately 78% of the total volunteers belong to SC/ST categories. Sikkim has an enrolment of 12,500 volunteers. From 2011-12 onwards, it is proposed to increase the enrolment annually by five lakhs. One lakh volunteers  exclusively earmarked for North Eastern Region.

The Broad frame work of programmes to be undertaken in North Eastern Region are Inter-state youth exchange programmes to be organized for giving exposure of the other world, National Integration Camps reciprocal basis for youth of North East region, Training programmes on Life Skills, Training on Leadership and Personality Development, Training on technical know-how, Training/Awareness campaign on reduction of drug abuse, HIV and STI infection, Traditional sports, Adventure programmes like cave expedition in Meghalaya, Hill Trekking, River rafting in Arunachal Pradesh etc. to be promoted, Programmes on environment management and sanitation and Training on Peace and Conflict resolution for youth.

Youth  Hostels

Promotion of Youth Travel is an important component of youth development sector. Youth Hostels are intended to promote youth travel to enable them to experience the rich cultural heritage within the country. The scheme has been conceived as a joint venture between the Central and State Governments.

With a view to encourage youth travel and to know more about the diversity of India’s culture and peoples, Youth Hostels have been constructed at 15 different locations in the North Eastern States of historical, cultural and tourist interest and significance. As a part of the major reform initiatives taken under the Youth Hostel Scheme, some of the steps taken in the North-Eastern States are release of funds to the three ongoing projects of Churachandpur and Thoubal  in Manipur and Roing in Arunachal Pradesh. Six Youth Hostels in the North Eastern States have been identified for face lifting for which Rs. 5 lakh has been released to each hostel. Managers have been appointed as per the revised guidelines at Imphal, Shillong and Aizwal.

North East Youth Festival

The First North East Youth Festival was held at Kohima, Nagaland from 8th to 10th October, 2009. The North East Youth Festival is a 100% central funding event, however, the central funding is restricted up to Rs. 1.00 crore. The next North East Youth Festival will be held in Shillong in Feb-March this year.

Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyaan

The Ministry has also decided to convert 18 of its 79 Sports Training Centres (STCs) and Special Area Games Centres(SAGs) into Model Centres. 2 of these will be identified in the North East. 2500 villages in the North Eastern States had got sports facilities at a cost of Rs 40 Crore under the Panchayat yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyaan (PYKKA) during the last 3 years and it would be further strengthened and extended.

(PIB Features)