The current generation of youth are cut from a different cloth than earlier generations. What are the aspirations of the youth in general? They are increasingly interested in forging their own paths, often disregarding set conventions. They actively consider entrepreneurship, innovation, research or even sports as viable options for a career. This inclination seems markedly different from previous generations where the tendency used to be aim only for government employment or any employment which promised a place to work till retirement age. With changing times, governments too must respond by creating an ecosystem that enables people to fulfil their aspirations. In this light, it is important to assess the Modi government in its four years of policy interventions with respect to the youth – across education, skill development, entrepreneurship and employment.
Supporting Entrepreneurial Dreams
The stated effort of the current government is to enable the youth to become not just job seekers but also job creators. Entrepreneurship has been a big buzzword in the government’s outlook towards the youth and some of the flagship schemes that this government is known for, are related to boosting entrepreneurship.
Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana which gives collateral-free loans to entrepreneurs is an archetypal example. The huge numbers bear out the popularity of the programme among the people. More than 12.84 crore small and medium entrepreneurs have received funding so far, pumping more than Rs 5.56 lakh crore into the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Among the youth, women, SC/ST and OBC sections have a healthy representation in the entrepreneurs funded by Mudra, outlining the reach of the programme that not only has achieved numbers but has also spread itself across sections of society.
Startup India was launched on 16th January 2016 for promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship among youth. It offers tax relief for three consecutive years out of a block of seven year for start-ups and various other incentives. It also includes:
- Start-up Fund of Rs. 10,000 Crore to be released by 2025.
- Startups are allowed to issue ESOPs to promoters working as employees
- 9036 Start-ups have been recognised
- 99 Startups have been funded
Under Standup India scheme, Rs 12,709 crore sanctioned as a loan to Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Women borrowers.
When government helps an entrepreneur to succeed, the possibility of employment generation increases because a successful entrepreneur will obviously employ many more in his concern.
Harnessing the Demographic Dividend
One of the important avenues to tap India’s demographic divided is employment. There may be a dearth of employment data in India, but the available data shows considerable job creation.
- A study of Employee’s Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) by academics from IIM Bangalore and State Bank of India said that, in FY2017, 5 million persons were added onto the payroll and in FY2018, this number was 5.5 million. According to this study, between September 2017 and February 2018, the economy added 2.2 million formal jobs.
- As per a Nasscom report, between 2014 and 2017, a total of 1.4 crore new jobs have been created in four sectors: automotive, IT-BPM, retail and textiles.
- India has become the second largest producer of mobile phones in the world after China, as per data shared by Indian Cellular Association on April 2018. From only 2 mobile phone manufacturing units in 2014, it increased to 120 units in 2017. 4.5 lakh direct jobs, 3 lakh indirect jobs have been created from this manufacturing leap.
- Infrastructure has got a big boost under present government. With the housing sector getting a considerable boost, with an addition of 25 airports in four years while there were 75 airports since independence, there has been an uptick in infrastructure creation.
- The speed of infrastructure creation too has seen an increase: an average of 345 km of new railway lines were being laid between 2009-14, while the average between 2014-18 is 633 km which is almost double. In 2013-14, 69 kms of roads were being constructed per day which in 2016-17 stood at 130 kms. Such a boom in infrastructure creation cannot happen without corresponding employment generation.
No matter how many jobs are created, it is skills that provide employability. The Modi government has evolved a fresh approach to skills. First of all, it created a separate ministry for skill development, in an apparent recognition of the importance of the concept as well as to provide an integrated focus. Then it started programmes such as Skill India and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana to provide formal short-term skill training across the country, recognizing the skills through certifications and enhancing employability of the youth.
- More than 1 crore have been trained in 2017 under various skill development programmes under Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. This number swells to 2.5 crore if all the four years of Modi government are considered.
- 13,000 training centres opened across India Training in 375 trades. More in pipeline.
- In just 2017, a total of 12 lakhs candidates passed out from the ITI ecosystem.
Scope for Scientific Research
Though Indian youth has made a mark on global stage in Information Technology (IT), research and innovation too need to be encouraged, apart from service sector. Scientific research demands time, resources and incentives. Without these, youth are forced to settle for available jobs in the market even though they may have an inclination towards research.
The Modi government, in the last four years, has taken steps to address this issue. For example, consider the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF). For the first time, a research fellowship in science & technology, with huge financial support, has been offered by the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship. At a total cost of Rs 1,650 crore for a period of 7 years beginning 2018-19, is aimed at tapping India’s talent pool for carrying out research indigenously in cutting-edge science and technology. In terms of monetary compensation too, the programme looks lucrative.
- In 2018-19, 1,000 students will be selected for fellowship. A maximum of 3,000 Fellows would be selected over a 3-year period, beginning 2018-19.
- Students who are offered direct admission in PhD programmes at IITs/IISc under PMRF will be given a fellowship of Rs 70,000 per month for the first 2 years.
- Rs 75,000 per month will be given for the 3rd year.
- Rs 80,000 per month will be given in the 4th and 5th years.
- A research grant of Rs 2 lakh will be provided to each of the Fellows for a period of 5 years to enable them to participate at international research conferences and present research papers.
Catching Them Young
Providing an eco-system conducive to research and innovation has to start from schools. In 2017, 2400 schools were chosen under Atal Innovation Mission for establishing Atal Tinkering Labs. Here, at a very young age, opportunities are provided to learn and explore ‘skills of the future’ such as Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, design thinking, advanced robotics etc.
Smart India Hackathon
Hackathons that give students an opportunity to showcase their tech capability may not be entirely new. But the scale at which the Modi government has done this perhaps conveys the enthusiasm with which it wants to engage with the youth. Smart India Hackathon 2017 was of an unprecedented scale, where government departments were directly engaged with students and challenged them to build digital solutions in a 36-hour non-stop digital product development competition.
- 42,000 engineering students participated
- 2100+ colleges across India represented
- 600 problem statements to solve
- 29 departments from various ministries engaged with students
The participants got an opportunity to resolve practical problems of institutions like Ministry of Railways, External Affairs, Ministry of Defence, ISRO, Ministry of Tourism, Dept. of Atomic Energy, etc.
A New Spotlight on Sports
Sports are an important area to excel for the youth. There is a conscious effort, both at the governmental level and at the personal level from the Prime Minister, to inculcate pride in sport as well as promote sport as a respectable career path. The Khelo India programme has been brought in with an estimated financial outlay of Rs. 1,756 crore for 2017-18 to 2019-20. This aims to encourage sporting culture in India at the grass-root level.
Some measures taken to encourage sport are:
- Annual financial assistance of Rs. 5 lakh per annum for 8 years to talented players identified in priority sports disciplines at various levels, ending their financial uncertainty.
- Foundation stone laid for National Sports University in Manipur. It will be first of its kind to promote sports education in the areas of Sports Science, Sports Technology, Sports Management, Sports Coaching and will also function as National training centre for selected training centres. Given the fact that the Northeast produces many excellent sportspersons, this should be a further fillip.
- First ever-training center with world class facilities dedicated for Para Athletes at Gandhinagar, Gujarat on 5th February 2017.
- Sports talent search portal was launched in which 8016 sportspersons are registered.
Strengthening Higher Education
If the above initiatives give an idea as to how this government has been focusing on the hitherto neglected areas, many other works in these 4 years show how it has strengthened the existing education system, the result of which will be beneficial to youth.
In 2017, Modi government approved the Indian Institute of Management(IIM) Bill, 2017, under which the IIMs would be declared as Institutions of National Importance which will enable them to grant degrees to their students. This also provides increased autonomy to IIMs.
In March 2018, UGC in a historic decision has granted autonomy to sixty higher educational institutions which have maintained high academic standards.
Other significant achievements in the expansion of avenues for higher education are:
- 20 super speciality AIIMS – like institutions being set up
- 73 government medical colleges being upgraded
- Construction of 6 new AIIMS expedited, 2 new AIIMS announced
- 92 medical colleges (46 government and 46 private) set up
- 6 new IITs fully functional, ISM Dhanbad converted into an IIT
- 7 new IIMs set up
The four years of Modi government has seen significant steps towards all-round development for the youth across skill development, education, sports and entrepreneurship. With the boost to entrepreneurship and infrastructure creation, there has also been visible job creation. There are many promising initiatives in progress in higher education too. India’s famed demographic dividend needs to be converted to a positive force for the nation and the direction seems promising.