Five things that youth voters wish the next government to do in the next five years
This year Assam is going to its legislative assembly election. A question that arises is about due considerations of the aspirations of voters aged between 18 to 29 years from the next government. Youth voters are a substantial share in the total voters. Around 50 lakhs of the voters would be of this group. Are the parties aware of the hopes of the younger generation voters?Although it is hard to presume the extent of influence of manifestos, yet they have their own hopes and aspirations. And it is imperative for the political parties to be aware of the aspirations of these categories of the voters. They are the future generation of the state.
The issues that frequently features in the current electoral discourses and debates of are deportation of illegal migration, identity politics-granting of status of STs to six communities, and creation of a separate state-Bodoland. Blame game of parties is on its peak. BJP accuses Congress of misrule during the last 15 years of their rule. Congress alleges BJP of lying, failure to fulfill the promises made prior to Lok Sabha elections, scraping of special status, cut in fund allocations, religious politics, etc.Same is the situation with AGP and AIUDF. On the other hand, conventional issues -flood, land erosion, border disputes with Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, problems of farmers, and law and order-insurgency related issues have been side lined, and it seems that these have lost priority.
Four aspirations: at par with the peers from around the nation and globe.
Five issues that youth expects the next government to do these issues.
1. A decent employment:
A decent job is one of the major aspiration of youth. The reason that our boys migrate to Bangalore and Chennai to be a security guard is non-availability of a decent jobs here locally.Several other both boys and girls are working there as software engineers, banking employee, managers, etc. in the services sector.At the same time here in Assam, voices are prevalent for reservations for local youths in railways, public sector units-OIL and ONGC, other government projects.Without commenting on the policies of reservation, the demand for reservations of locals is an indication of availability and willingness of people who want to work. We have bunch of energetic youths if engaged in value generating economic activities that would contribute to state`s economic output.
Further, it is true that quality and employability of youths has to be ensured, and this obligations is also with the people who runs the government. With a hope, schemes- MGNREGA, Skill Development programs-DDUYK intends to create jobs and provide skills to obtain a job. The saying, "Good schemes, but bad implementations" should not corrode the objective of these job-enabling schemes. These only enable to get a job, but the question- will there adequate number of jobs be created remains imperative. It is not that everybody wants a white collar job, rather a job with decent earnings with dignity is general aspirations. Fulfilling this demand should be priority of the next government.
2. Entrepreneurship and export with the bordering countries
Next, another breed of youths who aspire to create their own destiny. They do not seek employment, rather would like to employ others. They create jobs.For instance, Pradip Bora`s Bhimshakti- food product for toddlers from BhimKol-a local banana, and GhanshyamMedhi`s Axom Prakritik Udyog are the few good examples of local entrepreneurial spirit. With entrepreneurship and start-ups becoming an attractive career, our youths do not want to miss the bus of this exciting options. Sizeable markets to sell the products is imperative. Given the size of the markets of China and the ASEAN, the necessity is to support to export the goods produced. This would not only bring profits, but would also generate substantial amount of jobs for the locals. Our USP is tea and petroleum products, now time has come to explore the markets of processed food products, handwoven ethnic textile and bamboo products.
The new breed of entrepreneurs would want to connect to the East Asian countries. They wish to see improved trade relationship between the neighbouring countries of the North-eastern region. For them, being a landlocked state and non-availability of sea ports is no more a barrier to export. They want Stilwell road, Asian highways, direct roads to Bangladesh and Bhutan, roads to Myanmar via Moreh in Manipur to explore trade. Need is to operationalize and make it more active. Idea is to explore available international markets without being limited within the national markets. Thus, aspiration is to be entrepreneurs and grow it through export with the bordering countries and other ASEAN countries.
3. Better internet connectivity and communication
Thirdly, another aspiration of our youth is to have better communication facility-internet-to move ahead along with their peers around the world. They hope to compete with the world, their competition is no more limited to national level. For example: Kabyanil Talukdar has won World Rubik's Cube Championship 2015 held in Brazil. By the same token,similar to Flipkart and Amazon, our local e-retails are coming up- Assam Karts, artexdirect, kraftinn,axomiaai, etc. They want to do things that world is doing and they seek to make a mark at the global level. They want to connect to the sources of information available online around the globe.
This connectivity cannot be limited to within Guwahati or other towns. It has to be spread across villages of Dhemaji to Dhubri, and Lumding to Haflong. If not for using Google or Facebook, at least it is required for early warning system in case of floods, and relief disposal in cases of earthquakes or landslides. Shall we not help our farmers to get better prices in markets of their products through usage of Apps in smartphones? Because the world is moving beyond communication of Radio and Television.
Moreover, smartphone or computer has have moved from being a luxury to necessity. With the advent of globalisation, penetration of televisions into remote villages and smartphones, young adults are aware of the happenings around the world. These are tools through which students, researcher, entrepreneurs would like to explore enormous online information. The students want to learn e-courses, researcher wants to avail the research journals available online, and entrepreneur would like to see the market trends, and costumer preference for different products. They do aspire to be become a global citizen. So, internet connectivity, improved mobile penetration, and last mile connectivity of electricity is required.
4. Innovation and knowledge centre:
Fourth, youth would definitely love to have an ecosystem that would incubate their innovative brains.We will need universities, educational institutes, and individuals of the state to invent new technologies, new apps, new medicines, etc. It is not that we lack innovators, example of Uddhab Bharali justifies it. We have 16 year old Alfree Islam has invented a new operating system for computer. Chandra Siwakoti Sharma, a mechanic by profession caught the limelight of national media by building a helicopter. Similarly, in most of the top research institutes youths of Assam are working for innovation.
If such innovative individuals could be put into a conducive system to experiment their ideas, they would possibly invent machines and tools of local needs. Innovations are solutions to problems that mankind faces in day to day lives. Sometimes internationally innovated technologies fail to comply the local needs. That`s why indigenous technologies is essential. In districts-Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, and Lakhimpur flood is annual usual features. Due to floods, losses occurred in damage of paddy fields and erosion of rivers is regular and severe. We need flood resistant varieties of rice and we need technology that can resist soil erosion. The products developed in other countries fail to produce the similar results in the Indian climatic conditions, and so it is in Assam.These new ideas would be applicable in the state and also for the world.
5. Arts, Cinema, Music, and Sports
Furthermore, this is point that we easily associate with the youth. In this field, comparatively the picture is satisfying. Still, the aspirations is go beyond the current status and make national and inter-national mark.So, the thrust area would be to create more Zubeen Garg and more Jahnu Baruah who could give Assam more national awards in cinema and music.Although few individuals have been able to mark Bollywood being in supporting teams, our Assamese cinemas have long way to go. Tamil and Telugu movies have made own identity. Recently, a Marathi movie-Court has been nominated to Oscars. Can we dream same for an Assamese movie?
Yes sportspersons from Assam has been able to make presence in national teams in Boxing, Archery and Football.Shiva Thapa, Jyanta Talukdar, and Holicharan Narzary have been regular names.But in comparison to states like Manipur, Mizoram, and Haryana, our state would require more attention to surpass these states and become number one sporting state. Football- being the most popular game in the state, youths would love to cheer for an I-league team from Assam. In cricket,our Ranji Team has played semi-final for the first time.Undoubtedly, many budding cricketers aspire to play in Indian Premiere League and senior India team.So, today`s youth of Assam aspires to participate and win medal in Olympics, represent national football and cricket teams.
Aspirations needs to be nurtured
Finally, the land of blue hills and red rivers will have to be cut above other states in the coming years. It will build upon a base that is built within next five years.It is true that we have scores of issues-tea tribes are still living at a minimal wage, tribal communities do not want to be called as Assamese, the cohesion is loosening, dialects are disappearing, and 32 percent population are below poverty line. If we, as one community, a civilization on the bank of Brahmaputra want to flourish, we would have to move ahead along with the world. We cannot keep on pondering the same wounds again and again. We would have to channelize these aspirations to sustain ourselves.
(By Dulan Boruah )
The views reflected in this piece are that of the author and need not necessarily be that of TNT-The Northeast Today