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Empowering JK’s youth

Empowering JK’s youth
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By: Mohammad Hanief

Jammu & Kashmir is bestowed with a predominantly young population with about 69% of the population being below the age of 35 years. In order to provide a platform for holistic implementation of all youth engagement and outreach initiatives, and to bring the interests and empowerment of youth to the centre of policy making, government of Jammu & Kashmir Union territory has rolled out a pioneering initiative – Mission Youth.

Mission Youth is an ambitious initiative aimed to provide a vibrant medium for youth engagement & empowerment in Jammu and Kashmir and the mission and strategy is to facilitate youth to become ambassadors of peace, prosperity & socio-economic growth through systematic interventions across domains.

The initiative has been successful in addressing the socio-economic issues faced by the youth of the UT by providing them a platform to optimally harness their skills in different potential entrepreneurial prospects, thereby contributing towards growth and development of the region. Mission Youth, a comprehensive youth development program, launched by Jammu and Kashmir government, has proved boon towards enhancing skills and entrepreneurship among youth of the region.

In the present financial year, 4482 youth have been facilitated for self-employment under the scheme with a total financial support of 165 crore through scheme banking partner and 16 crore as government contribution towards subsidy. Self-employment avenues created under this scheme have instilled a sense of self- reliance and positivity among youth and assistance to more than 1588 women entrepreneurs has been provided under a scheme with a resultant employment generation of 3615. Total financial assistance to the tune of ₹ 102 crore has been sanctioned along with an amount of ₹ 12 crore as government contribution towards subsidy.

Mission Youth under the program of innovation aims to enhance young people’s learning and development through a range of non-formal learning activities with focus on pioneers experimentation and innovation in education, entrepreneurship, art, research and cross-sectoral partnerships. Innovation may be defined as exploiting new ideas leading to the creation of a new product, process or service. It is not just the invention of a new idea that is important.

Mission Youth has been a game changer for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir. The initiative has provided the youth with the necessary resources and support to enhance their skills and promote entrepreneurship, thereby contributing to the socio-economic development of the region. The success of Mission Youth serves as an inspiration for other states to implement similar initiatives for the development of their youth.

Mission Youth has succeeded in turning J-K youth into ambassadors of innovation, peace and development through systematic interventions for youth engagement and outreach under six domains including livelihood generation, education/skill development, financial assistance, counseling/theory, sports and recreation. It was rolled out specially designed community oriented livelihood generation scheme for youth of J&K under the name of “Rise Together”. The programme envisions promoting community based entrepreneurship optimally to generate jobs, income and promote spirit of social service among new-age young entrepreneurs of Jammu & Kashmir.

In order to bridge the gap between demand and supply of skilled workforce and to create a strong environment for professionals and technical skill development in Jammu and Kashmir, Mission Youth team of Jammu and Kashmir administration has been in touch with prominent organizations of the country including ICICI Foundation, Tata Technologies Ltd, Primal Foundation, Wipro etc for working on upgrading skills of youth in the sectors having high employability potential like Banking & Financial Services, Digital Marketing, Media Management etc.

Young people who volunteer regularly develop a civic identity, as leaders and change-makers, and therefore become more socially and politically active adults. They also learn new social skills like collaboration and problem solving that are vital to succeed in academics, the workplace, and their personal lives. Thus, youth volunteerism can play a pivotal role in creating lifelong change among youth and result in their overall personality development, which happens to be the core agenda of Mission Youth. The youth clubs have been constituted to realize this vision.

Mission Youth has also initiated the process of setting up super specialized youth centres across all the districts of Jammu & Kashmir. These centres are primarily aimed to present a safe youth-appealing environment with manifestation of hope, security and aspirations of the youth and are planned to offer a first of kind initiative in a supervised environment covering four fundamental contours of youth engagement & empowerment viz. Inform, Inspire, Interact & Innovate.

The UT administration is laying special thrust with Mission Youth programmes on skilling & self-employment of youth with targeted schemes to drive a socio-economic transformation as government has already instructed for impact assessment of initiatives and called upon stakeholders for exploring all avenues for enhanced corporate engagement in Youth empowerment and skilling programmes/schemes. According to officials more than 30,000 youth, including more than 12,000 girls, have been provided with direct livelihood means during the year 2021-22.

One of the primary objectives of Mission Youth was to address the issue of unemployment among youth which has been successful in creating employment opportunities by providing requisite training and support for entrepreneurship. Under the initiative, the government has established incubation centres and provided financial assistance to young entrepreneurs to start their own business ventures. This has not only created jobs but also boosted economy of the region.

Likewise, the Mission Youth started ‘Youth Volunteer Program’ for youth engagement at grassroots level and rolled out a special volunteer program in the name of YOUTH CLUBS. The initiative was approved by the governing body of Mission Youth, headed by Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. The volunteer program was made fully operational on the eve of International Youth Day 2021 and 4500 youth clubs have been constituted under the program across the UT.

More than one lakh youth have been involved in volunteer activities through the program and got opportunity to work through real challenges and make meaningful change in the society. Youth have been enabled to learn new social skills like collaboration and problem solving that are vital to succeed in academics, workplace, and their personal lives.

Remarkably, tremendous work performed by the Mission Youth during past few years bore fruit when the Mission Youth was awarded with Prime Minister’s award for the Excellence in Public Administration 2022, under the Innovation (State) category on 16th Civil Services Day this year.

In order to promote meaningful livelihood activities and employment to instill a sense of purpose and self-esteem in individuals to steer them away from drugs, programmes for skill development, vocational training and livelihood support of ex-drug addicts would be carried out through National Backward Classes Finance and other Development Corporations of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

In addition to this, vocational training and livelihood programmes would also be carried out in collaboration with Department of Women and Child Development, Department of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and its affiliated institutes.

(The author is a columnist based in Srinagar)

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