Observer Research Foundation Mumbai

Ideas and Action for a Better India

ORF Mumbai Discussion Paper Opportunities for Youth-Led Development in Urban India

Demographic Dividend and the Urban Youth

India is currently at the cusp of a unique Demographic Dividend as more than 41% of the population of the nation today lies below the age of 34 years. By 2020 the dividend will show up in the average age of the Indian at 29 years compared with China’s 37 years, Japan’s 48 years and Europe’s 49 years and this advantage will last us only until 2050. In addition, India is predicted to be 40% urban by 2030. This also means an ever-increasing proportion of cities’ population being under the age of 34. Maharashtra itself is expected to be 58% urban by 2030 of which Mumbai alone is predicted to account for around 42%. These demographic and geospatial trends have enormous implications for our cities, states and the nation at large. Experts are very upbeat about the possibilities this offers for India’s socio-economic growth in the next few decades. However, this must be viewed as much of a positive opportunity as a deepening challenge, especially in urban India. For more information on the current youth population breakdown for Maharashtra, please refer to Table 1 and 2 in the Appendix.

If we wish for the youth and our nation to benefit from this demographic dividend then we need to ensure that the younger population has sufficient productive avenues and means of contributing to national growth and development. In addition, instilling appropriate cultural, civic and citizenship values into the youth of today will ensure that they grow into mature and socially aware adults who are able to deal with the challenges of life in the future.  This task must be seen in the context that a large proportion of youth in our country are still born in the midst of extreme poverty, suffer from malnutrition, lack access to appropriate educational avenues and at best participate in the informal economy under inhumane conditions.  With the absence of stable social security and the ability to organise, most of India’s young are handicapped by both a lack of productive skill-sets as well as the entitlements to enable them to acquire those skills[i]. Hence, there is a need to have specific central and state-level interventions that work actively towards ‘levelling the playing field’ where undoubtedly the role of the Governments will be key[ii]. To effectively achieve these ideals, we envision that Youth Development efforts will have to evolve into “Youth-Led Development”, where the youth would play a pivotal role in (and not be a passive recipient of) policy formulation processes, implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation.

A number of initiatives and policies currently exist in the field of youth Development at the Global, National, State and Local levels. This discussion paper will attempt to provide an overview of the present scenario and existing efforts, to facilitate meaningful discussion on how to expand and enhance opportunities for the youth, specifically in the context of urban India.


Urbanization Challenges + Youth Challenges = Urban Youth Challenges



Youth Development at the Global Level

The youth of today live in a world that is qualitatively different from the one in which their parents and grandparents lived. Theirs is a globalised world. Moreover, their world is increasingly turning into a Global City, rather than a Global Village. Parag Khanna, writing about the emergence of megacities in the latest issue of Foreign Policy, observes: “The 21st century will not be dominated by America or China, Brazil or India, but by the city. In an age that appears increasingly unmanageable, cities rather than states are becoming the islands of governance on which the future world order will be built. This world order is not – and will not be – one global village, so much as a network of different ones.” Recognizing this paradigm shift and adapting to its implications will be a key global challenge for all countries, and the more unified they can be in their approach to these common issues, the more successfully we can secure our common future.


Youth and the UN

The United Nations (UN) defines youth as those between the ages of 15 to 24. According to the United Nations estimates today, youth represent 18% of the global population or 1.2 billion people. 87% of youth live in developing countries facing challenges brought about by limited access to resources, healthcare, education, training, employment and economic opportunities. The United Nations World Youth Report (2005) clearly outlines the present day global youth challenges: 200 million youth live on less than US$1 a day, 130 million are illiterate, 10 million live with HIV, and 88 million young people are unemployed.[iii] Young people in all countries are a major human resource for development, positive social change and technological innovation. We should encourage, develop and capture their ideas, energy, potential and vision to bring about the transformative changes in society, which our world so desperately requires.

Youth Development as an issue has received high profile attention at the global level through key agencies like the United Nations Programme on Youth and also through the efforts of various international NGOs who work dedicated on youth issues. On 18th December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the year from 12th August 2010 to 2011 as the ‘International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding’. Announced on International Youth Day (12th August), under the slogan of ‘Our Year Our Voice’, the International Year of Youth (IYY) is intended to promote the ideals of peace, freedom, progress and solidarity towards the promotion of youth development and the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals. The IYY will coincide with the 25th anniversary of the first International Youth Year in 1985 on the theme Participation, Development and Peace. The year provides an opportunity for all global citizens to reflect on the value of young peoples’ energy, imagination and collective action as a crucial component for achieving peace and development around the world.

The United Nations is strongly committed to Youth Development. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, stresses that, “Youth deserve our full commitment – full access to education, adequate healthcare, employment opportunities, financial services and full participation in public life… The Youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national and global levels. As we expand our efforts, we must do even more to reach out, to listen and to learn from young people.”[iv]

The United Nations Programme on Youth is the focal point for youth related issues and activities within the UN Secretariat. The Programme on Youth, which falls under the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), is responsible for monitoring progress and constraints in addressing the objectives of the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) and is intended to act as the lead in inter-agency consultations on youth development. WPAY provides a policy framework and practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the conditions of the youth around the world by providing them adequate opportunities for holistic development. WPAY has identified 15 priority areas for action: Education, Employment, Hunger and Poverty, Health, Environment, Drug Abuse, Juvenile Delinquency, Leisure-Time Activities, Girls and Young Women, Participation, Globalization, Information and communication technologies, HIV/AIDS, Youth and conflict, and Intergenerational relations.[v] Based on these identified areas, individual development indicators have been formulated to quantatively and qualitively assess and monitor the relevant programmes. The Appendix of this paper contains further information on these indicators, which can be calculated for all cities and countries (provided that data is available).

It is estimated that ‘70 percent of the world population will be urban by 2050, and that most urban growth will occur in less developed countries.’[vi]  At the same time, by 2050, ‘the number of youth [globally] will have risen from just under a half billion in 1950 to 1.2 billion. At that point, about nine in 10 youths will be in developing countries’[vii] (where youth is defined as per the UN classification of 13-24). In the context of such global demographic and urbanization trends, UN-HABITAT has taken the initiative to investigate the challenges and opportunities for the Youth in Urban Areas. Sustainable urbanization being one of the most pressing challenges facing the global community in the 21st century, how we harness the resources and potential of a burgeoning youth population will be critical in addresses such challenges.

UN-HABITAT, which publishes an annual report titled the “State of the World’s Cities”, has for the first time in 2010, produced a specific report on the “State of the Urban Youth – Levelling the Playing Field: Inequality of Youth Opportunity”, in view of the fact that the youth make up the majority of many world cities and are the catalysts of modern urbanization. UN-HABITAT has also set up a dedicated Youth Fund to assist Youth and You-Led Organisations worldwide to overcome the challenges of their urban environments. The Global Youth Fund, aims at undertaking research on best practices in youth-led development, and also aspires to create a greater awareness of the urgency to ensure that youth concerns are integrated into national and local development policies and strategies[viii]. The UN and its agencies believe strongly in the importance of creating opportunities for the empowerment and the involvement of the youth in policy formulation and implementation. As key stakeholders in the development process the youth must be engaged actively to contribute ideas and lead initiatives for their benefit, as well as that of their respective countries at large.

The UN-HABITAT 2010/11 ‘State of the Urban Youth – Levelling the playing field: Inequality of Youth Opportunity’ report is a cross-regional analysis of youth opportunity existing in select major cities from five developing countries (Jamaica, Nigeria, Kenya, India and Brazil). It includes a study of the institutional and organizational issues that affect equity and equality in the representative cities (Kingston, Lagos, Nairobi, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro). The report highlights how access to basic education, decent housing and living conditions in the early years directly determine the kind of employment opportunities that the youth of these cities avail later. As a result, there is great emphasis on the necessity of a ‘level playing field’ so that the underprivileged are not disadvantaged in the long term.

The report applies a multi-pronged factor analysis approach for assessing Urban Inclusiveness, using: predetermined circumstances (gender, race, and disability); family resources and location (access to basic facilities such as electricity, sanitation and health care); intergenerational inequalities (disparities that have been passed on from previous generations); and inequality of opportunities (in terms of primary and further education). As the report suggests, if opportunities for the youth are shaped by multiple factors, then to tackle issues hindering youth development, policy responses must also espouse the multi-dimensional nature of youth opportunities and be holistic in nature. Systematic data collection and local capacity building are also critically required (amongst other things) for achieving youth empowerment.

Key findings of the “State of the Urban Youth – Levelling the playing field: Inequality of Youth Opportunity” Report:

  1. 1.      Predetermined circumstances impact inequality of youth opportunities 
  2. 2.      Education is a key determinant of opportunity equality (especially for females)
  3. 3.      Inequality is, to a significant extent, determined by the quality of education
  4. 4.      Inequality of opportunity is driven by asymmetric political structures
  5. 5.      Gender disparities in educational achievement lead to unequal opportunities
  6. 6.      Higher enrolment numbers in primary, secondary and tertiary education lead to lower inequalities in Income 15 years later
  7. 7.      Higher primary enrolment ratios boost GDP 15 years later
  8. 8.      Parents’ education determines youth opportunity inequality
  9. 9.      Improved literacy rates have not resulted in proportional job opportunities

10. Education and early access to services make the “right to the city” more effective

The UN and its various agencies and programmes aim to address key areas within Youth Development such as health, education and employment, and opportunities for girls and young women, by providing data, information, policy frameworks and practical guidelines for national action and international support. Although, the UN as a body supports and facilitates the work of local country agents, the onus of responsibility for Youth Development does and should remain under the remit of the National and Local Governments.

The International Youth Exchange Programme

This is an international youth exchange programme funded and supported by the central and state governments, foreign governments, Indian embassies and United Nations agencies. The programme aims to financially support Indian youth between the ages 13-35 to participate in seminars, conferences and workshops in matters related to youth development.


Youth Development at the National Level

National Youth Policies and Schemes

While there are a large number of policies and ministries working directly and indirectly towards ‘youth-development’, for the purpose of this paper, we will be focussing on the flagship policies and schemes of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

National Youth Policy (2003)

The National Youth Policy formulated in 2003 lays emphasis on the need for ‘composite and all-round development’ of the youth, to empower them to become active participants in nation building. The policy stresses on a more participatory approach and aims to work with the youth rather than for the youth. It defines youth as persons falling between the age group of 13 to 35 years. Acknowledging that persons that fall within this range are not a monolithic group, but rather a collection of sub-groups with differing social identities and roles two broad sub-categories of youth are defined as 13-19 years and 20-35 years.  Within these sub-groups, priority target groups articulated by the policy are the rural and tribal youth, out-of-school youth, adolescents – particularly female adolescents, youth with disabilities, victims of trafficking, orphans and street children.

The thrust of the policy is to promote Youth Empowerment and Gender Justice. It aims to bring about Youth Empowerment through education, nutrition, development of youth leadership, ensuring equality of opportunity and inculcating respect for Human rights and Fundamental Rights. With respect to Gender justice, the policy aims to address domestic violence, eliminate gender bias and discrimination, provide health services, as well as promote equal opportunities for education and orientation of young women through education and counselling.

The policy recognises that youth development is a multifaceted concept and therefore requires a multi-dimensional and integrated approach. Eight key sectors are identified for intervention:

  • Education
  • Training and Employment
  • Health and Family welfare (General Health, Mental Health, Spiritual Health, AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Substance Abuse, and Population Education)
  • Preservation of Environment, Ecology and Wildlife
  • Recreation and Sports
  • Arts and Culture
  • Science and Technology and
  • Civics and Good Citizenship


Other broad recommendations brought out in the policy include the creation of a National Committee on youth policy and youth affairs to periodically review and assess all youth schemes and programmes, and the establishment of a National Youth Development Fund created through contributions from the government and NGOs, which would be utilised for Youth Development activities.

While the policy does indeed lay out a general framework to envision planning and implementation of Youth-Led Development some questions still remain unanswered.  The policy fails to specifically address the issues of Urban Youth. It does not make any backward and forward linkages to other Central and State Government policies appropriate to Youth-led Development. Nor does it detail the implementation agencies and mechanisms at the state level with respect to who will be responsible for putting these programmes into place at the ground level. Finally, it makes no specific policy directives, with time-bound action plans, which not only makes decentralisation of policy difficult but also undermines any efforts at effective monitoring and evaluation.

Nehru Yuva Kendra Sanghatan (NYKS) – an initiative for Rural Youth

Although this scheme is meant for the rural youth, its model is certainly worth deliberating for adoption in urban areas. Started in 1972 by the then Ministry of Education, NYKS is primarily involved in providing the non – student rural youth an opportunity to grow and get involved in the nation-building-activities. The two broad objectives as stated by NYKS include:

–          To involve the rural youth in nation building activities

–          To develop such skills and values in them with which they become responsible and productive citizens of a modern, secular and technological nation[ix]

To achieve the above ideals, NYKS essentially organises several programmes and activities through village level Youth Clubs which are in turn governed by monitoring bodies at the district and zonal levels. The organisation boasts of a rich human resource base with 28 Zonal Offices, 501 District Offices, 3311 Block level Youth Development Centres and 300,000 Village Youth Clubs. The clubs consist of around 12000 paid volunteers on a two year tenure (with another 8000 volunteers are being added shortly) who are involved with the day-to-day affairs of the clubs. NYKS also regularly appoints Monitoring and Evaluation Officers to increase efficiency and transparency in the implementation of its programmes and activities.[x]

Some of the indicative programmes and activities of the clubs include:

–          Youth awareness campaigns

–          Adolescent development programmes

–          Youth leadership and personality development programmes

–          Meetings with renowned Youth leaders

–          Capacity building of Youth for social sector programmes

–          Skill Up-gradation and Training Program (SUTP) for women in over 100 border/tribal/backward districts

–          Folk and Cultural Festivals


National Youth Corps (NYC) Scheme – An aide to the NYKS

Introduced in April 2010 by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the National Youth Corps Scheme is an amalgamation of two existing schemesThe National Service Volunteer Scheme (1977-78) and the Rashtriya Sadbhawana Yojana (2005) and is being implemented through the NYKS under the Department of Youth Affairs. The objective of the NYC Scheme is to induct volunteers in the age group of 18-25 for two years to take part in the activities of the NYKS Youth Clubs for which they would receive an honorarium. Initially, the scheme envisions induction of 20,000 volunteers of which around 40% will be enrolled in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Through their activities, the volunteers will be responsible to work with NYKS to promote inclusive social and economic growth, to disseminate required information and knowledge in their community, to act as group modulators and peer group educators, to promote public ethics and eschew the values of probity and dignity of labour[xi].

One of the biggest roadblocks today to youth-led development is their inability to organise collectively and claim social security entitlements which are rightfully theirs. The NYKS along with the NYC holds enormous promise to begin this process. In addition, youth clubs can play an essential role in instilling civic values and cultivating a sense of citizenship and camaraderie among youth which can go a long way in building a responsible, socially concerned and a productive youth population. However, the exact implementation mechanisms, the viability of this model in urban areas and accurately measuring the success of this programme are all issues which require further enquiry.

Other National Level Youth Initiatives

–          Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD): This training institute was set up in 1993 in Tamil Nadu to bring all Youth Development activities viz. training, action research, extension, documentation and dissemination under one roof. RGNIYD functions as a coordinator of Training, Orientation, Research, Extension and Outreach initiatives for State, Central Governments and national level youth organisations

–         The National Service Scheme: Funded at both centre and state level, this is a national student network consisting of 2.6 million volunteers spread over in 200 Universities, Polytechnics and Pre-University Colleges which aims to be a platform for information exchange 


National Skills Development Mission – The challenge of the rising talent gap

The discussion on benefitting from our demographic dividend is meaningless until we discuss the productive capacities of our youth labour force as of today.  While the economy continues to grow at a healthy 8%, most industry and policy experts see this still as “jobless growth” due to a serious talent gap estimated at about 5 million skilled persons in the next two years[xii]. “I’ve had sleepless nights; the task is daunting,” Mr. Kapil Sibal said at an international conference, referring to the infrastructure required to educate and train India’s workforce of tomorrow[xiii]. In fact this is not specific to India, this is now a global issue especially made grave due to the recession. ILO last month reported that out of world’s 620 million economically active youth between the ages of 15 and 24, 81 million were out of work at the end of 2009, a record high[xiv]. This problem will require equal focus on creating more high quality secondary and tertiary education institutes as well as upgrading our vocational training and skills development infrastructure. Therefore while discussing youth-led development it is also critical that we look at the National Skills Development Mission and the National Skills Development Policy even though this does not fall under the mandate of the Ministry of Youth Affairs.

This mission was launched in 2009, with the aim of modernizing existing vocational training and skilling institutes to open new employment opportunities for the youth, with the private sector as a key partner. The initiative also recognises the critical importance of skilling the unorganised sector and makes a concerted effort to inculcate the ethics of dignity of labour and environmental, safety and health concerns in its implementation.

The institutional mechanisms sought in order to fulfil this aim include[xv]:

–          National Council on Skills Development: The Apex body for policy formulation and review

–          National Skill Development Co-ordination Board: comprising of secretaries of relevant ministries

–          The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC): A non-profit company funded by the “National Skill Development Fund” to which the central Government has contributed a sum of Rs. 995.10 crores. Additionally the corporation is expected to mobilise about Rs. 15,000 crores from other governments, public sector entities, private sector, bilateral and multilateral sources. The corporation has been mandated to meet the skill training requirements of the labour market including that of unorganised sector which includes skilling 150 million people by the year 2022 and so far three proposals have been cleared to train 10,39,000 persons in next 10 years. NSDC will play a significant enabling role building curriculums, training faculty, standards and quality assurance, technology platforms, student placement mechanisms and setting up standards and accreditation systems in partnership with industry associations as well as international universities[xvi].

–          Strengthening the National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT): By setting up frameworks for competency standards, structure of courses, certification and accreditation of existing training institutes, creating labour market information systems and improving monitoring and evaluation on the effectiveness and efficiency of the institutes.

–          National Skill Development Policy: The NSDP envisions skilling 500 million people by 2022. The policy identifies key stakeholders and their roles in the process of skill development, lays out concrete suggestions for expansion of outreach, equity and access of skill development, raises pertinent questions on the quality and relevance of the programmes already in place and exhibits a benchmarking of the current skill deficit and the action plan to achieve the said target of 500 million persons by 2022.

The National Skills Development Mission surely merits further debate and consideration especially for the Maharashtra State Youth Policy. The potential of this mission is enormous and a forum like ours must be extremely positive about engaging with and fully understanding what new roles and responsibilities this will bring for state and local governments.

Youth Development at the State Level

Maharashtra State Youth Policy Declaration

Maharashtra does not yet have a dedicated, formally ratified, State Youth Policy. It is fitting that in 2010 – the Golden Jubilee year of Maharashtra state and coinciding with the Year of Youth – a group of non-profit organisations lead by Navmaharashtra Yuva Abhiyan have drafted a document that gives direction and serious thought to Maharashtra’s Youth[xvii]. The Maharashtra State Youth Policy Declaration (a draft document of the ideal state youth policy) was submitted to the Government of Maharashtra on 12th January 2010. Under the political leadership of Smt. Supriya Sule, the draft has been developed in a manner that reflects and builds on the National Youth Policy, outlining the focus on youth empowerment, and reiterating the importance of working with the youth rather than for the youth. It aims at identifying specific needs and concerns of the youth whilst simultaneously keeping in focus their aspirations and goals, and outlining the broad level action needed by the state to make these a reality.

As in the National Policy, the Maharashtra State Youth Policy Draft (MSYPD) defines the youth as persons between the ages of 13 to 35, which is further sub-divided into adolescents (13 to 19 years) and young adults (20 to 35 years). According to the 2001 census, 40.6% of the total population falls between the age group of 13-35 years in India. At the same time, the youth population of Maharashtra was 41,347,821 – implying that a staggering 42.68% of the total state population falls under this youth classification. Although the draft explicitly recognises that the focus of empowerment efforts should be more on youth in the 20 to 30 age group, it acknowledges the potential and the lack of dedicated schemes for those aged 30 to 35 and thus includes them in the definition of youth. However, the document does state that the inclusion of persons in the 30 to 35 age group as youth needs to be debated and eventually reviewed. The Observer Research Foundation supports the inclusion of young adults aged 30 to 35 in this programme, as we strongly believe that they are best placed to provide leadership, guidance and mentorship not only for younger youth but for society as a whole.

The vision of the MSYPD is to create “a society where the youth are self-reliant, empowered, instilled with values of equity and social justice and are committed to the spirit of volunteerism and holistic development of the state and society.”[xviii] The policy further identifies the core values such as Gender Equity, Youth Participation, Inclusiveness, Respect for Diversity, Sustainability and Accountability, which are necessary to bring about Empowerment of the Youth. The draft policy is sensitive to recommend special focus on Female Youth, Youth from remote areas, Tribal Youth, Youth from minority populations, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Vimukta Jamati and Nomadic Tribe youth, Youth from urban slums, street youth and homeless youth, Youth drop-outs from formal schooling, Youth with disabilities, Socially stigmatized youth (such as LGBT, commercial sex workers, or criminals) and Youth under difficult circumstances like victims of trafficking.  Whilst there can be no contention against these values, it should be noted that a one-sided emphasis on Respect for Diversity is also not desirable. There should be equal emphasis on Commitment to Social and National Unity. Particularly, as in the absence of a strong sense of unity, diversity could be misused for divisive purposes.

In pursuit of the outlined vision, the policy recognizes the need for a detailed and comprehensive plan of action for the empowerment of the youth, to channel their energies in a positive and productive manner into asset for the state. The MSYP commendably addresses all the various issues that the youth of Maharashtra face in the areas of Education, Training and Skill Development, Livelihood, Social Security, Health and Lifestyle, Environment, Recreation and Sports, Arts and Culture, Science and Technology, and Citizenship and Participation. However, whatever it adds in breadth, it lacks in depth; whilst it seeks to address all the issues concerning the youth today, and provides reasonable and thoughtful policy directives in these areas, it does not deal with the existing policies and practices of various government departments nor does it elucidate as to how such inter-governmental coordination may function. Whilst it is the youth who particularly suffer from inequality of access and opportunity in Health, Education, amongst other areas; it must be acknowledged that a number of other groups in society also face such issues. The creation of a dedicated and separate youth policy, will positively refocus the government’s attention on youth and has the potential to address the needs and issues of the youth, however the implications of creating additional institutional for governance and coordination will also need to be further debated and discussed.

In addition to renaming the ‘Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs’ as the ‘Youth Development Ministry’ the MSYPD outlines an action plan with suggestions such as: changing the orientation of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports from ‘welfare’ to ‘empowerment’; functional reorganisation of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports; constitution of a State Youth Commission; institution of various committees and task forces; reinstating the State Youth Award Scheme; creation of District Youth Centres; introducing a state level Residential Youth Training Centre; enabling a single window information system for the youth to avail information about schemes and programs under different ministries and departments; as well as publication of Youth Development Reports and Youth Development Indices every three years, amongst other proposals.

Where the policy could be improved upon is in its specification of the processes of implementation. There needs to be more clarity in how to achieve purported policy objectives. Furthermore, it would help if the policy could distinguish between the rural and urban youth, at least in terms of implementation, where the strategy and processes will necessarily have to be different. Some recommendations of the Art and Culture as well as the Science and Technology sections appear to be very broad and general, these should be tailored to be more specific to youth if they are to feature in a dedicated Youth policy.  

The MSYP is proactive in its approach to monitoring and evaluation. The tone of the policy is humble and honest with a genuine note of introspection included in the “Challenges” section which accurately identifies lack of political will, red-tapism and family/social non-cooperation as critical hurdles for the success of this policy. As a policy document it imbibes a lot of the theoretical best practices, but whether these great ideas will be successfully adopted by the state government and translated into action will be the real test of the policy.


2010 – The right time for Youth-Led Development in Urban India 

2010 being the year of so many youth initiatives globally, nationally and locally, it has the potential of turning around our opportunity and benefitting from the demographic dividend – provided we invest and act before it’s too late. The upcoming ORF Event on Saturday, 28th August will provide a platform for discussing and debating Maharashtra’s State Youth Policy as well as the implications of UN-HABITAT’s latest report on Urban Youth. We hope it can also act as a medium for exchanging ideas and resources between various organisations working in the field of Youth Development.

Discussion Points

At this juncture we recognise our responsibility to contribute to this debate and as a preliminary effort in this area, we are conducting this event on “Opportunities for Youth-Led Development in Urban-Indiain collaboration with E-Social Sciences and UN-HABITAT to mark the beginning of the International Year of Youth. The event will be presided over by Mr. Eirik Brun Sorlie, Project Officer from the UN-HABITAT and Smt. Supriya Sule, Member of Parliament and one of the main authors of the draft State Youth Policy.  We wish for this event to be the beginning of a fruitful and engaging ongoing debate on this issue.

Some of the questions we wish to address through the deliberations include:

  • Defining what we actually mean by “Youth Development” and “Youth–led Development” for Urban India and Maharashtra at large
  • Articulating the various stakeholders and their specific roles in Youth-led Development in Maharashtra and Mumbai
  • Identifying the specific means of addressing each stakeholder group’s needs and wants, especially of young women and the youth belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and other deprived communities, to ensure gender sensitivity, social justice and inclusive development
  • Uncovering the pressing needs of the Urban Youth of Maharashtra and Mumbai (examples: employment, education and skill development, opportunities and spaces for creative activities, etc.) as of today and deconstructing existing policies and schemes at the centre and state-level to see if the they adequately address them
  • Focusing on ways to tap young people’s tremendous energy, innate idealism, spirit of voluntary service, and leadership potential for social transformation and nation-building
  • Ensuring, through de-politicisation and de-bureaucratisation of government policies and schemes, that Youth Development efforts are “for, by and of the Youth”, not just on paper
  • Extending Participation and Leadership to policy formulation, implementation and monitoring and evaluation
  • Working towards building more synergy between international, national, state-level and local efforts in this field to more effectively reach / realise the common vision for youth
  • Constructing a workable and deliverable agenda, specifically in the context of the forthcoming Maharashtra State Youth Policy, for the sustained promotion of Youth-Led Development projects and programmes and to continue to engage government, civil society, private sector and individuals (especially the youth) in debates on urbanisation and youth


ORF Mumbai is strongly committed to supporting Youth-Led Development initiatives and is keen to work with multiple groups of stakeholders including the State and Central Governments, NGOs, CBOs and International Agencies to jointly expand and enrich the opportunities (and access to those opportunities) available to the youth in urban India today as a means of tackling some of the critical development challenges the country faces at its current stage of urbanisation, growth and global integration.



Table 1

Age Group/Sex-wise Youth Population in Maharashtra
(2001 Census) 
Age-group  Total  Rural Urban
Person Male Female Person Male Female Person Male Female
All ages 96878627 50400596 46478031 55777647 28458677 27318970 41100980 21941919 19159061
0-4 9532843 4983885 4548958 5873107 3068305 2804802 3659736 1915580 1744156
5-9 10230090 5302533 4927557 6228773 3215898 3012875 4001317 2086635 1914682
10-14 11337442 5945917 5391525 6870566 3591211 3279355 4466876 2354706 2112170
15-19 9570648 5262931 4307717 5370972 2940496 2430476 4199676 2322435 1877241
20-24 8856660 4781322 4075338 4574262 2401727 2172535 4282398 2379595 1902803
25-29 8218364 4187247 4031117 4239973 2082403 2157570 3978391 2104844 1873547
30-34 7392720 3800551 3592169 3944147 1944710 1999437 3448573 1855841 1592732

Source: Census of India, 2001


Table 2

Projected Youth Population by Age-group and Sex in Maharashtra
(As on 1st March, 2016, 2021 and 2026)
(In ‘ 000)
2016 2021 2026
Persons Males Females Persons Males Females Persons Males Females
0-4 9691 5114 4578 9480 5004 4476 8967 4738 4229
5-9 9971 5286 4685 9773 5185 4588 9574 5083 4491
10-14 9880 5258 4622 10064 5361 4703 9876 5267 4609
15-19 10470 5464 5006 10103 5389 4714 10305 5502 4802
20-24 10911 5710 5201 10831 5643 5188 10495 5583 4911
25-29 11194 5948 5246 11042 5812 5230 10981 5757 5224
30-34 10242 5566 4676 11231 5991 5240 11096 5868 5228

Note: Projection is based on 2001 Census
Compiled from the statistics released by: Census of India

The United Nations Youth Development Indicators

General Demographic Information

1. Total youth population 15-24 years old

2. Youth as a percentage of the total population

3. Percentage of youth who are ever married


4. Youth literacy rates

5. Gross enrolment ratio for secondary education

6. Net enrolment rate for secondary education

7. Gross enrolment ratio for tertiary education

8. Transition rate to general secondary education


9. Youth unemployment rates

10. Ratio of youth to adult unemployment rates

11. Youth employment-to-population ratios

12. Youth labour force participation rates

Hunger and Poverty

13. Percentage of severely underweight youth

14. Percentage of underweight youth

15. Percentage of young people living in absolute poverty

16. Percentage of young people living in poverty


17. Adolescent fertility as a percentage of total fertility

18. Percentage of married or in-union young women currently using modern contraception

19. Maternal mortality ratio

20. Top 3 reported deaths by cause for youth

21. Probability, for a 15-year old, of dying before age 25


22. Percentage of youth severely deprived of water

23. Percentage of youth severely deprived of sanitation

24. Percentage of youth severely deprived of shelter

Drug Abuse

25. Lifetime prevalence rates of drug abuse among youth

Juvenile Delinquency

26. Rate of convicted children admitted to closed institutions

27. Age at which people are held liable as adults for transgression of the law


[Due to lack of availability of suitable data an indicator for leisure has not yet been evolved]

Girls and young women

28. Percentage of all women who have undergone female genital cutting


29. Voting Age

30. Legal minimum age of marriage without parental consent

31. Existence of a National Youth Council


32. Ratio of international youth to adult migrants

33. Internationally mobile students in tertiary education by host country

Information and Communication Technologies

34. Proportion of young people who used a computer in the last 12 months

35. Proportion of young people who used the Internet in the last 12 months


36. HIV prevalence rate among youth

37. Percentage of youth with comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS

38. Percentage of youth who used a condom at last high-risk sex

Armed Conflict

39. Estimated number of youth refugees by country of origin

Intergenerational Relations

40. Median age of population



[i] Business Line – The Unrealised Demographic Dividend:

[ii] UN HABITAT Report





[vii] Population rEference Bureau, 2009 – World Population

[viii] UN-HABITAT:

[ix] Nehru Yuva Kendra Sanghatan:

[x] Nehru Yuva Kendra Sanghatan:

[xi] The National Youth Corps:

[xii] Unrealised Demograhic Dividend:

[xiii] Bridging the Talent Gap in India’s Demographic Dividend:

[xiv] Global Youth Unemployment at Record High: ILO:

[xv] National Skills Development Policy:

[xvi] National Skills Development Mission – Press Release:

[xvii] Maharashtra State Youth Policy (2010), Page 7

[xviii] Maharashtra State Youth Policy (2010), page 11

For further information about this paper please contact Varsha Raj at


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This entry was posted on 27/08/2010 by in Urban Renewal, Youth Development and tagged , , , .
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