Role and Relevance of the Youth in Policy-making and Governance: India, Africa and G-20

G-20 Presidency, 2023

India’s assumption of G-20 presidency for the on-going year is the one pivotal episode that offers myriad opportunities and variety of challenges in various sectors and focal areas across technology, economic transformation, climate change, supply chains, entrepreneurship and design driven solutions shaping the future of shared prosperity, both for the country itself, G-20 and beyond.

India being credited as a civilizational nation state, largest functional democracy, most populous nation with the largest youth population of over 600 million in the age groups of 18-35 years, out of which more than 450 million are enrolled across country’s schools, colleges and institutions of higher learning, making it the largest place of millennial and Zen G in the world.

Scale and magnitude of the Indian youth power

Comparatively, this 450 million enrolment numbers in India equal to that of the EU population, offering size and scale to the possibilities that India has as youth dividend. These many numbers of the youth, in productive category, is by far the biggest and the largest anywhere in the world at a time when most nations, with exception of the African continent, have been either facing the challenge of a shrinking or aging population and in some cases even combination of the both.

While the debate on its youth population, trajectory of policies for their purposeful deployment continues, India has been pushing in finding solutions to complex issues of socio-economic and political nature through its youth power, their creativity and innovations across range of sectors and focussed areas through skilling, entrepreneurship, employment guarantee schemes and support through education and innovations. National Education Policy 2020 in this direction further lays out the systematic vision and progressive mechanism to create a sustained and sustainable development model in India by 2040, coinciding with India’s independence centenary.

Africa’s youth and its place in the world

Relevance of African continent in emergence of the future of a ‘new world order’ also assumes a vital significance as the continent has over 407 million youth population in the age groups of 25 and 49 years. If the numbers of the youth populations from India and Africa get added, they alone total up to more than a billion youth population, twice the size of the European Union. It’s thus evident and even fair to state that inclusion of Africa into G20 mechanisms could be considered in collectively searching for solutions to humanity’s most complex problems that could range from unleashing youth power for innovation, skills, social development, education, entrepreneurship, climate change, migration, poverty reduction, income inequality, among others. Pathway to solutions for shared prosperity is potentially going to significantly pass through India-Africa ‘youth power and youth laboratory’ corridors in large measures.

Fiscal value of youth’s (unpaid for) contributions  

Amid on-going economic and geopolitical episodes and to keep the focus trained on supporting the youth and its work, Federal government and its central bank in India have been acting concertedly and in unison with their fiscal and monetary policies and economic tools to continue to provide solace on cost of living front for the youth population, among other beneficiaries. The country, due to its fiscal prudence and better monetary policy management, is expected to grow at 7 per cent growth rate as per IMF forecast, among the fastest in the world.

Alongside, as the world continues to experience unpredictable socio-economic unpredictability’s  and cost of living challenges, riveted by bilateralism, India’s focus on self-reliance, indigenous supply chains, country continues to push forward for resource optimization and revitalization of socio-economic resources, in the aftermath of the global pandemic.

There is also a need where governments around the world need to find avenues to measure and quantify the ‘unpaid work’ contributed by the youth and reflect that through the growth and development numbers accordingly to local context, circumstances and household realities.

India’s case and a collective call to action

India’s push for entrepreneurship and self- reliance has shown green shoots reflected through success of national initiatives such as Make in India, Start-up India, Production Linked Incentive Scheme and Local for Global – leading to greater incentivisation offered to the industries, start-ups led by the youth, and communities resulting in large investments. India today tops the entrepreneurial landscape with more than youth led 100 start ups in category of unicorns (valuation of USD 1 billion or more) against a total number of 1200, internationally.

In addition, India as the largest democracy has been an experiment ground for youth politics and change on the ground levelling up its diversity in schools, colleges and politics both in the federal parliament and state legislative assemblies in its constitutional make up of quasi-federal ingredient, holding the base and foundation of governance across judiciary, executive and legislative braches of the government, a potent lesson in how to keep democracy vibrant for international community.

Youth and entrepreneurship

The self-reliance pivot with entrepreneurship ecosystem has also led to country’s diminishing dependence on fragile supply chains and unpredictable delivery systems, in lead up swelling international investments in defence, technology, health care, physical infrastructure, education, innovation and vaccines protocols, as key focus areas of the G-20 under India’s presidency,  where a large number of youth population is being driven in direction of focussed areas through ‘policies by design’ approaches and mechanisms.

While such trends continue to deepen and expand, results thereof continue to benefit country’s youth population through a number of socio- fiscal incentives and revitalization of local economies while opening up opportunities for them at devolved levels. Such empowering outcomes are likely to further reduce poverty, tapering off the gaps in income inequality, while triggering robust fiscal incentives for the youth population across rural and urban areas.

Digitization, economic disruptions and future of the youth  

As country continues to ramp up its progress in terms of economic size at scale and impact, India would need to consider likely adverse impact of fast paced digitalization processes set in force not seen in decades since industrialization may likely adversely impact lives and livelihoods of the youth population. The nation would also need to consider taking adequate and cautionary measures to secure safety nets of the poor and the vulnerable youth population in pursuit of balancing out human welfare with economic growth.

India’s current approach to striking a tenuous balance between ‘economic development and human welfare’ amply triggers the goal of regional prosperity and international cooperation. This is also reflective of essential ingredients of a replicable model to secure rapid economic growth with well-being of the diverse youth population amid techno economic disruptions reflected through fragile supply chains and uncertain labour market conditions, across the country, G20 territories and beyond. Such contexts also build a case for safeguarding the youth as an asset through time bound capability development and their welfare through innovative policy instruments.

Partnership for progress

As G20 is a premier grouping of both developed and developing economies accounting for over a three  fourth of the world’s gross domestic product and world trade, the role that the youth would decidedly play in further ramping up their contribution in creating a world shaped by shared prosperity at all levels – economic, political, legislative and beyond. A collective approach to partnership driven model involving the governments, industries and civil society actors with youth representation at the centre would need to be developed and deployed to better harness possibilities in shaping a sustainable, inclusive and growth oriented mechanism for a world shaped by shared prosperity and collective collaborations.

India, Africa together in G20

India’s role as G20 presidency, as the largest democracy and its responsibility as the fastest growing economy is being keenly watched out by international community including its resolve and ability to shape  a ‘new socio-economic world order’ based on the principles of ‘One World, One Family’, values and compassion.

Furthermore, Africa’s inclusion within the fold of G20 and India-Africa partnerships particularly, keeping the youth at the centre, could catapult and reshape the face and future of technology, socio-economic development and entrepreneurship for the shared prosperity.

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Pooran Pandey is a Non-Resident Fellow – Sustainable Development at Nkafu Policy Institute. Contributor to (Springer Nature, Germany) first global encyclopedia on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (2019), Pooran Chandra Pandey is also the founding CEO of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, a Berlin, Germany, based international think tank (2016-2018)

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