Rural youth – the most energetic and enthusiastic people of any village. It is obvious for any Government or organization to tap the raw energy of this group in order to carry forward any policy or project in a village. Youth can be promising in bringing out positive changes in villages. Due to this potential, I had kept most of my interaction space with rural youth in last 1 month of my immersion in Maduaka village of Mathura.
Though my understanding is very limited, I am sure the needs, aspirations and situation of rural young people are not very different in other parts of the country. Before talking about youth directly, there is a need to understand the area of my immersion. The village is very close to Yamuna expressway which makes it just 2 hours away from national capital. Though electricity condition is good in my village due to the presence of a circuit house nearby, there is a huge water crisis. The hardness of water is such that it can’t be used for anything other than cleaning and washing. The Yamuna river passes by 5 kms away from the village but it is hardly of any use for any irrigation. It is mainly dominated by Jat community which is traditionally an agricultural community. Good body built and physical fitness make them perfect set of people for armed forces. The craze for Indian Army, Navy, Airforce, ITBP, CRPF, CISF, and Police forces can be seen among most of the teenagers here. They have won many of the highest military awards for gallantry and bravery.
Young people here neither fall into the category of urban youth nor properly into rural. In this era of smart phones, dish T.V. and social media, they aspire to live urban life but the resources are limited. It makes them unfit for the work of farming. Every single youth in this village want to go either in armed forces or cities for job. Irrespective of the size of land holding in the family, no one wants to stay in the village and do farming. This is very unfortunate because the country’s food security is in danger if these youth will fancy only for urban life even if they get very less compensation and low quality of life there. Though the agricultural produce has increased tremendously in last few decades due to revolution in technology in chemical fertilizers, the farmer’s income and standard of living has gone down due to uncertainty of weather and huge investment cost in farming. Other concern is the education quality in this village. Government school is almost non- working and children go to private schools in and out of village. The frequent cheating in board exams of the state demotivate them to study in 10th and 12th standard. Most of them take admissions in B.A. and B.SC. after 12th but prepare for armed forces. It’s common to see many of them running in morning and evening outside the village.
I met a youth who was excellent in mathematics. He got 99 in class 12th and teaches students in the village. He wanted to be an engineer but he never thought that it would be practical seeing the huge fees of colleges. So he is also preparing for police admissions. The problem is that their families are not so poor that they cant afford higher education of 1 or 2 children who are good in studies. But lack of confidence and pro-activeness of parents kill any such desire of their children. Very few students go forward to take professional degrees.
This situation of rural youth is really concerning because they are in middle right now. They don’t want to stay in villages and continue farming as there is no regular income. Also the fascination of city life makes them feel inferior about villages. Also, they are not able to fit in cities due to lack of quality education. Also they are not comfortable in doing blue collar jobs as they don’t see themselves doing such work as they come from families with enough land holdings in village. This migration of youth from villages to cities is not going to end until quality education, job opportunities and agricultural training are provided in rural areas of country.