APJ Abdul Kalam Jayanti: Development of youth is at the center of policies, only then development

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  • Prateek Raj, Professor, Strategy Area, IIM Bangalore

When President Kalam in 1998, Y.S. Written Vision India 2020 with Rajan, this book inspired many youths. This was the first time that someone had written a dream in which India would again move towards a prosperous nation during our lifetime. Kalam gave a slogan to increase prosperity in every village instead of poverty. But today this dream of Kalam is coming true like satire.

Kalam had dreamed that India would be one of the five largest economies in the world. This is happening today. Our economy is now smaller than the USA, China, Japan and Germany. But Kalam would hardly have thought that in the fifth largest economy of the world, more than 35 crore people would be called poor (28%), crores of children would not get proper education and crores of women would be confined to the house. There will be development – but luck will be more with the capitalists, not the youth, the poor or the small traders. Whether or not there is a place for the general public in hospitals, there will be a special place for VIPs. If calamity comes, the people will have to be self-sufficient, because only the leaders and officers will depend on the government machinery.

It is necessary to ask how did we reach such a situation? Half of the country’s population is below 28 years of age. Every government has started some new schemes for the youth, but how many governments have put the youth and their future at the center of their policy. It is doubtful that the leaders who promise jobs in crores of crores, often do not understand the principles of economics. Economics is an important education in which our leaders and officers are not proficient.

The Mauryan Empire was also created by Kautilya, an economist. Today’s youth is trying for few government posts. Leaders are also promising government jobs, but a few lakh government posts cannot give employment to crores of youth. Yes, there are some basic jobs where there are opportunities. There are many jobs in healthcare. While it is expected that more than 2 people in every 1000 population should be doctors, in India this number is about one third. In a Hindi province like Jharkhand, doctors are negligible.

A very small portion (1%) of India’s GDP focuses on public health. If the government is determined, with the right education and investment, lakhs of healthcare services can be created – doctors, nurses, pharmacy, health administration – which will benefit everyone. Like healthcare, there are millions of employment opportunities in education, police and other social services. These are good jobs, which will strengthen both the society and the economy, the village industry will also get a boost.

There are many opportunities in social services as well as electronic and vehicle production. But we have imposed so much tax on both electronic and vehicles that their domestic demand decreases. But production centers in India will not be built in provinces prone to religion and ethnic hysteria, nor in places where political, religious and ethnic partisanship creates instability. Investors desire peace and stability, and employment and development also take place in similar places. South India has better understood this recipe of development.

There is a need for proper economic, fact-based thinking. If Vision 2020 is not true, then at least we should make a resolution of Vision 2030, in which youth power of the country should become the foundation of the country and lead the country towards progress.

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