By P.K. Joseph
According to a latest UN report India has the world’s largest youth population with 365 million 10-24 year olds. According to National Youth Policy 2014, youth in the age group of 15-29 years comprise 27.5% of the population. India lies on the cusp of a demographic transition as the population of India is expected to exceed 1.3 billion by 2020 with a median age of 28. This is considerably less than the expected median ages of China and Japan. However, in order to capture this demographic dividend, it is essential that the economy has the ability to support the increase in the labour force and the youth have the appropriate education, skills, health awareness and other enablers to productively contribute to the economy.
Despite ranking a close second to China’s booming population the bigger question for India still persists, are we a qualified nation? Do we possess the skill, and human resource to rise to domestic and global challenges? Are we nurturing our youth to be leaders of the future? The answer is an affirmative Yes. India with its 1.2 billion strong population is a warehouse of talent. Talent like any other skill needs to be sharpened and honed. The current wave of schemes and scholarships offered by companies via their CSR programmes is testimony to the fact that the education horizon is awash with promises of a bright future fuelled by the support of various stakeholders, and set to grow exponentially.
A country’s youth are a reflection of the state of affairs. Education here has always been a contentious issue, revolving around the oft-repeated arguments about structure, laws, funds and the sheer amount of planning that would require successful implementation of any programme. The Right to Education under Article 21A, an extension of the fundamental right to life bestows every child between the ages of 6 to 14, free and compulsory education.
The set-up of the government that ensures execution of this plan is still in its nascent stages requiring continuous investments and funding. Going by the statistics, the numbers will take a long time before they match the projected output. It is a fact that more than half of India’s population resides in rural or semi-rural areas, comprising majority of the youth. However, due to financial constraints, social norms, some talented young minds are losing out in the big race.
Despite the laws and government’s schemes providing primary, secondary education to all, the quality of education varies in private and public institutions, the former providing a more holistic curriculum vital to the overall development. It is quite disheartening to realize that knowledge is compromised due to lack of funds in institutions that follow the law. Alternatively, the face of educational institutions coupled with new-improved methods of teaching is not just a trend but essential to meet global standards. Public schools, state sponsored and state run institutions employ the conventional methods which unfortunately is not enough in today’s world.
Added to the plight of financial incapacity, is the lack of proper infrastructure and environment necessary for the holistic growth of students bubbling with infinite talent. Having recognized that, there is no dearth of talented individuals striving to reach the highest levels of excellence. The only impediment is the lack of means to do so. Economic shortcomings aside, it matters little where one comes from, when the destination is the same, i.e to rise, excel and prove to be assets to a country calling for the support and contribution of its youth.
DLF Foundation, the philanthropic arm of DLF Limited is a non-profit organization specializing in executing innovative Corporate Social Responsibility schemes in areas such as education, skill development, village cluster development, healthcare including Swacch Haryana Campaign.DLF Nurturing Talent Programme is one such initiative aimed at grooming bright underprivileged children. Over 837 bright and gifted students from underprivileged families receive benefit with 45% of the scholars being girls. 49 villages and 27 government schools in Gurgaon are covered by the school programme.
The Nurturing Talent Programme in the Professional category covers about 227 scholars in Engineering, MBBS, MBA, Sports and Arts category drawn from states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, U.P. and Uttarakhand. Post enrolment by DLF, regular monitoring, counseling sessions and soft-skills training workshops/seminars from time to time. Further, Aptitude Testing, Career guidance, review of performance, and recognition to achievers are also undertaken. Additionally in order to help cope with mounting pressures Counseling Cells are operated by DLF Foundation’s Scholar Guidance Cell, comprising Psychological Counselors and Educationists. Experts form an integral part of the Scholar Guidance Cell in the problem solving process and guiding young minds through tough times.
Alternatively, DLF Sahyog, an Integrated Employee Volunteer Programme wherein , senior employees of DLF stand in as ‘guides’, friend and facilitator to meet special needs of children. The objective is to raise a meritorious child in a learning conducive environment with a healthy dose of personality development.
The Foundation currently invests 4 crores on the programme and plans to expand its scope in the coming years. The programme was awarded the Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya Award for best practices in education by CSR Times in 2014. There are thousands of brilliant minds hiding away in deep pockets of India. DLF makes special efforts to seek them out and polish them for the future. There are many success stories to attest to this fact.
Needless to say there is an imminent need to uplift the poorer sections but more than that empower them by honing their talent, to build their self-esteem and to ensure that they have a level playing field to compete on global scale. DLF Nurturing Talent Programme is one such mechanism to contribute to this cause in its own small way. Our children are our future. We must invest in them.
About the Author: P.K. Joseph is a MBA, MAII, Stratford University, USA and MSW, University of Madras. He is a seasoned development management professional with over 15 years experience, in executing and managing social sector programmes in various capacities with national and international NGOs, as well as the private sector. The domain expertise lies in social research , feasibility study, micro-finance and livelihood, youth development, youth entrepreneurship, micro-enterprise action research, project monitoring and evaluation, global summits, global campaign, fostering youth networks, business mentoring, CSO development, public-private partnership building, training workshops as well as preparing toolkits/publicity materials.