Youth unemployment in the Naga context – what is the way out?

Dr. V. Mepfhii-o

Today the problem of unemployment has become a deadly disease that threatens to disrupt our society, our state. Many of our Naga youths have become a disgruntled lot. If the youths of today become disillusioned and misguided then the future looks very bleak. And this is the present scenario that we see around us. The educated unemployed registered in the employment exchange office alone has crossed 40,000. If we include the uneducated and those who did not register there, the figure becomes appalling. The type of unemployment that afflicts us is not voluntary. The majority of boys and girls who complete primary, secondary and tertiary school levels of education are jobless not so because there exists categories of vacancies they dislike, but much so due to a solid void of any. Some of the indicators that prove this problem is slowly gaining subtle dimensions is the rising rates of crime, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, rape cases, prison congestion, armed robbery and extortion and petty theft in general. Not everyone can be employed by the government that is practically impossible. But there are other alternatives that can help us tackle this challenge. Just as the causes of unemployment are multifactorial so again the solution requires concerted efforts from various sectors of the government, society and individuals themselves. 

So, to tackle this menace let us start from the root – our education system. The goals of the education system must remain as they have always been, that is, to teach us how to read, write, analyze, grow, create, and build. We must strive to get the youth to think for themselves. These are the most important skills to bring to the job market. There are some improvements that the government has done in this regard by switching over to a grading system rather than the old system of pass and fail in our education system. This will go a long way in recognizing and nurturing the many talents and non-academic aptitudes of the young minds and provide them with a strong skills base for the future. Our students and youths should be encouraged to take up part time jobs, vacation jobs, odd jobs etc from an early age so that they will realize the value of time and money and also experience the thrill of earning something and develop a sense of self worth.

Another important measure that can be taken would be to conduct workshops and seminars on ‘youth leadership’ and ‘small and medium enterprises (SMEs)’ for different categories of people, so that in this way they receive proper guidance and encouragement to dare and try to start something on their own as groups and individuals and stand on their own feet instead of relying on the government. The Government can also reign in help from outside by linking up with national and international NGOs and other governmental industrial units and involving them to take up various schemes, studies and projects in our state so that our youths can be employed under the NGOs while others can be sent for specific job oriented short training courses like toy making, knitting, mobile repairing, car mechanics etc. to various industries, factories across India.  The youths of today can also be helped by making available to them increasing avenues for Govt loans and subsidies, study grants, scholarships, self help group schemes, PMRY, CM-corpus fund etc. so that they are not totally dependent on others.

The entertainment industry still remains a very underutilized platform by our Naga youths today. There is no dearth of talents in our Naga youths be it in the field of music, film, sports, arts and aesthetics. We have many potentially world-class candidates among us: with proper motivation and exposure and support they stand to bring fame and glory to our society. The Govt. and various NGOs can help in this regard by creating opportunities wherein they get to showcase their talents and receive positive feedback and aim for higher levels of perfection. Some cash incentives or some complimentary financial assistance to the various artist’s and athletes will go a long way in sustaining them to achieve greater goals. Otherwise many young talents get lost along the way due to lack of optimum support and proper avenues.

Sending out our youths on exposure trips like school and college excursions, sport tournaments and contests and competitions outside our state will infuse lots of fresh ideas and broader horizons into their minds. Such trips should not just remain a pure pleasure sightseeing trip but should include tours to industries, factories, science and technology centers so that the young fertile minds will be ignited.

The field of eco and cultural tourism is also another avenue where our youths can be harnessed into productive activities. If we develop more tourist spots and events, and involve our youth actively in organising and maintaining such spots and events, and co-incidentally promote indigenous products, our economy, as a whole will grow.

Stress should also be given to make our youth’s techno-savvy because information technology is already and will play a major role in the future world. At least basic short- term courses can be given on a wide scale at affordable fees to our youths at schools, college, at the work place etc. Nowadays it is becoming a must to be computer literate whichever walk of life one belongs to. Our students and youths should be encouraged to take up part time jobs, vacation jobs; odd jobs etc from an early age so that they will realize the value of time and money management and also experience the thrill of earning something and develop a sense of self worth.

As the saying goes ‘feed a hungry man and he will feel hungry again; but teach him how to fish and he will feed himself and his family for the rest of his life’. This should be our motto when approaching this problem of rampant unemployment in our state. It is a fact that a high economic development generates more economic activity, which in turn generates bigger employment avenues. Therefore in order to solve this unemployment problem one should stress also on building up the necessary industrial and technological infrastructure to create more avenues for employment and make it easier for the small and medium enterprises to survive and grow. Economic development and employment are intimately linked together and can either spiral upward or downward in a vicious circle. Therefore let us join our hands together and change the destiny of our land for the better.

(This essay was adjudged the best essay in the competition under the same title organised recently by the Youth Employment Summit (YES) Nagaland Chapter and YouthNet)