101st International Labour Conference (ILC), 30 May-15 June, 2012
Sideline Meeting of ASPAG on 12th June, 2012
At the outset, let me compliment ASPAG for having organised a discussion on Youth Employment on the sidelines of the 101st ILC, 2012. First of all, I share the views of our Director General Mr. Somavia expressed yesterday that the ASPAG is a region of immense opportunity and tremendous growth potential. We have similar circumstances, similar problems and a shared vision. That is why we should come out with shared solutions to ensure inclusive growth in our region
The youth employment crisis is a global challenge. It has its origins even before the financial crisis. The current crisis by slowing down the economic growth has further aggravated the youth unemployment problem. Developing countries, in particular, with their large youth populations are facing increasing challenges in absorbing them in their education systems and labour markets. This problem is even more complex in countries having large informal sector and rural population.
The number of persons below the age of 35 years in India is about 70 percent of our total population. The population between the age of 10-19 years is 225 million, the largest number the world over of young people to make a transition to adulthood. It is this population of young people, which constitutes, for India, a potential demographic dividend, and a mega challenge, if not properly addressed.
We firmly believe that a well educated population adequately equipped with knowledge and skills is essential to support economic growth. It is also a pre condition for growth to be inclusive. Government of India has been making continuous efforts through active labour market policies to create additional job opportunities for our youth both in the private and public sectors in the country.
We have enacted the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act for providing better education to our youth. The Prime Minister’s Skill Development Mission seeks to provide skills to 500 million youth by 2012. We are following a Rights based approach of Right to Work, Right to Education and Health Cover to ensure that our population including our youth share the fruits of the development process.
Government has also been implementing the Prime Minister`s Employment Generation Programme to provide employment opportunities by assisting individual entrepreneurs and self help groups, including women, in both rural and urban areas. Financial assistance is provided along with various backward and forward linkages such as Entrepreneurship Development training, exhibitions, marketing and awareness generation camps.
Mahatma Gandhi NREGA provides for enhancement of livelihood security of the households in rural areas of the country by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
Under our National Health Insurance Scheme RSBY, we are providing cashless health cover to our people below poverty line through a smart card scheme.
There is a need to provide opportunities for development and empowerment of Youth so as to enable them to achieve their full potential and involve them in nation-building activities. We need to put young people at the center of country’s growth and development for a better future. Only then would we be able to realize our demographic dividend fully.