Magazine 2012
Healthy Youth : Our Best Resource  
Ms. Kinjal Mehta  
Maniben Nanavati Womenb s College,Mumbai.  
Youth symbolizes action, speed, change and dynamism. Throughout the history, young people have always  
played a major role in shaping the destinies of nation, be it in wining wars, achieving economic progress or in  
changing social norms. Recognizing the importance of youth in the wake of the rapid economic development,  
urbanization and changing life style in one of the greatest challenges India is facing.  
The role of youth in bringing about change, growth and development in art, culture, education, health and  
polities has been very significant as they constitute about 35% of the total population of the country. It is  
therefore, necessary to see that youth keep themselves physically, mentally and morally healthy so that they  
can contribute in the process of development and progress of the nation.  
This paper makes an attempt to focus on and highlight the issues related to social factors and health of youth  
in India which manifest that the society plays a crucial role to promote, protect and maintain health of youth.  
Youth are the hope of the future. It is from these youngmen and women that the future  
leaders of the nation are to riseb .  
Mahatma Gandhi  
Youth symbolizes action, speed, change and dynamism. Throughout the history, young people have always  
played a major role in shaping the destinies of nation, be it in wining wars, achieving economic progress or in  
changing social norms. Recognizing the importance of youth in the wake of the rapid economic development,  
urbanization and changing life style in one of the greatest challenges India is facing.  
b Healthy youth is the best resource for the development of any nation if their potential energy is tapped and the  
impression of their being rebellious, unpredictable, short-sightedness, sloppy and wild is removed by the  
society and political leaders.b   
Youth in India is a big force to reckon with that can contribute greatly in all aspects of national life. As they have  
to offer something to the nation, the nation in turn has to give to them so that they feel socially and economically  
secured and lead morally and physically healthy life. Sound health is a prerequisite for any individual in general  
and youth in particular to perform his expected role because it is the section of young people that is engaged  
in labour and employment. The health problems such as drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, stress and  
strain, prostitution etc are the by-product of our social system that specially affect the youth. Proper guidance  
and effective education to the young people by the individual family and society at large is imperative to avoid  
wasteful of life of young people. Youth of today tends to deviate from performing socially and culturally accepted  
roles, tend to disrespect socially accepted norms, thus generating conflict between two cultures b  old and  
This is not because he has inborn drive to do so, but many a times he is forced to act in the fashion he likes by  
the compelling situations created by a host of social factors and agents of social change in the society. In  
India, collective efforts by the government and voluntary agencies involving the youths themselves in the  
programmes for their overall development bear a testimony of the nationb s commitment to the young people.  
Nevertheless, it is not to be mistaken to thinks that if society, family and those institutions responsible for  
nursing the young people do not come forward, the young people will have a sound ground to create their  
institution as individual or groups and turn to deviant and destructive behaviuor. Considering these reality  
issues, this research paper will highlight the intricacy of the problems relative to the health of youths.  
Characteristics of Youth  
Of our total population, 35% is constituted by the youth, unfortunately, most of it remains unutilizedb .  
Whenever we think of youth, a mental picture emerges before us, one half of which gives a feeling of  
freshness, fitness, energy, enthusiasm and idealism and the other half gives the impression of being rebellious,  
unpredictable, short-sighted, sloppy and wild. It is because of these negative traits of the youth, coupled with  
lack of political will the potential of youth energy remains untapped.  
How Can Youth Prove to be the Best Resource ?  
The youth will become a resource only if they are made to feel confident and capable. They donb t want to be  
watched, judged or criticized. They want to participate as co-equals. If his opinion is not respected he would  
retaliate, leading to negative achievements to show his capability.  
India is a country of great diversities and contrasting characteristics. It has a large population and very low  
resource consumption. The yield efficiency of the land is poor. And its per capita Gross National Product (GNP)  
is low. Giant strides in the economic field can be achieved if youth energy is exploited for productivity.  
Before a dam was constructed on Sutlej River at Bhakra, the water resource was not only wasted, but it resulted  
in floods, leading to loss of life and property. The same is true for youth resource. The idle youth is not only a  
waste, the tide of this un-utilized energy can result in development in the negative in the field of health and  
economy. The youth can be our best resource if they are healthy and if their energy is exploited for building a  
better society. The potential energy of youth has to be channelized with understanding, support and technological  
Enthusiasm, initiative and idealism of youth can play a big role in the field of health care and education.  
Fortunately, majority of youngsters do want to help themselves and other to achieve healthy and happy style.  
The love of sharing and joy of giving to the physically handicapped or weak brings satisfaction and brightness  
on the faces of youth.  
China has shown us the way by finding jobs for its many million young people in the fast few years. This is  
proving useful for the settlement of the youth as well as for the upliftment of the society. On the other hand, the  
Government of India has not so far carried out a valid cost b  benefit analysis of population growth. It has entirely  
neglect the benefits from growth of youth population.  
Todayb s youth also stand at the threshold between traditional and modern ways of life. The modern youth can  
take a wider and global view of the problems and the means to solve them. They can rise above the narrow and  
partisan compartments of villages and cities, castes and religions, as also states and countries. They can surge  
forward in this 21 century to foster the close ties of international brotherhood and understanding.  
In recognition of the potential of the youth and to harness the youth energy, the year 1985 had been declared  
and celebrated as International Youth Year all over the world. In a message on the World Health Day 1985, Dr.  
H. Mabler, the then Director General of the World Health Organization has suggested that :  
In the drive towards health, every community should take stock of its youthful resource and nurture it for all its  
promiseb .  
Encouraging the world to look on its young people positively as a resource instead of as a problem had been  
one of the major aims of international youth year. If a negative picture is repeatedly reinforced by the media, it  
may force the youth into the role of a rebel of the three themes of the International Youth Year b  b Participation,  
Development, Peaceb  b  participation comes first. And rightly so, if the energy and ideas of the young can be  
attracted to health programmes then change will follow.  
What can be done to improve their health ?  
Hallmark of youth period is fitness, which is defined as freedom from disease and provide strength, power,  
ability, balance, flexibility, muscular endurance, heart and lung endurance and co-ordinationb .  
It is to be emphasized that fitness is not an unearned income of the youth hood. Improper intake of food,  
coupled with inadequate or complete lack of exercise is the rule rather than an exception in India. The youth of  
today prefers to eat fast food which is referred to as b Mac Donalizaitonb . This reluctance about nutrition and  
exercise has unfortunate results soon after the glory of youth start declining. Many successful men and women  
let their health suffer and consequently find themselves inefficient or their careers cut short by diseases associated  
with physical and mental deterioration, hyper-acidity and dyspepsias, stress, ulcers in stomach, limb pains and  
lethargy, neurosis, hyper-tension, heart attack, cerebral stroke etc.- are simply too high a price for laziness and  
lack of initiative in fitness. On the other hand with a minimum amount of training and by watching oneb s diet one  
can protect health as well as raise their energy level.  
Setting up of youth health clubs and centres at various places can go a long way to ameliorate their lot. The  
youth can visit such places freely to sort out their own problems and to plan services for the weaker sections of  
society. They can discuss such subjects as sex (pre-marital, extra b  marital or marital), STDb s, drug abuse, rape  
and violence, unwanted pregnancy and contraception, diet, obesity, prevention of accidents and fitness  
progremmes. On the other hand, they could contribute to improve the lot of other eg:- programmes of  
immunization of children and youth, family planning and nutrition, adult education, shapping of hospitable  
environment, organization of eye camps, yoga camps, blood donation camps, health camps etc. We read in  
newspapers how youths belonging to NCC, NSS, Bharat Scouts are involved in such camps like polio drives  
and Teach India programmes which is a good beginning.  
The need to set up such centre in rural areas, where the huge reservoir of youth power is not only un-utilized but  
also lacks support and guidance completely. The same youths can take the responsibility of immunization,  
nutrition education, hygiene and environmental control in their own areas. Outstanding among such youths  
could become a human resource development officer to control a few such centres. As a group of youths  
succeed in such a venture, it will attract more and more young people. In this manner the youth will join the  
main stream of society and participate in this new alliance between the government and the community.  
Marriage is being delayed in general, the age of first intercourse is dropping, with the obvious implication the  
pre-marital sex explosion is becoming very common now. The need for early sex-education is being felt all over  
the world. The adverse consequences of sexuality tend to team from ignorance and not from permissiveness.  
Many abortions and their attendant risks could be prevented if contraceptive services were easily available, well  
understood and adequately applied. It is our duty not to leave the youth alone, in ignorance to cope with the  
tremendous demands of intense sexual impulses. We should not allow our youths to swim in troubled waters  
without guidance, support or experience.  
The psychic craving for only chemical substance licit or illicit, which results in an individualb s physical, mental,  
emotional or social impairment is called drug abuse. Youth tend to pick up the habit mostly due to peer  
pressure and at times just for fun. To fulfill the growing need of the drug, the youth freely indulges in crimes of  
various types. How we wish if there was a vaccine which could save our youth from drug abuse !  
b A leading cause of mortality and morbidity among the youth it the traffic accidents, for which the well- established  
vogue for mopeds and motorcycles coupled with alcoholism, psychological stress and speed are largely to be  
blamed. The mortality rate of boys in such accidents is much higher than in girlsb .  
But should we accept this loss of human life as inevitable, as a price of speed? Are we vitally concerned with the  
fact that every year around a quarter of a million people must die and a million more be injured ? quite apart  
from the loss in human terms, the financial costs involved are incalculable. We need not accept massive death  
and injury as the price of progress.  
Gandhijib s vision of youth as agents of social change  
Gandhiji envisaged great role for the youth of this country in the establishment of the new social order. His  
simple life itself was the best source of inspiration. Gandhiji said :-  
Youth must take part in party politics. They may not resort to political strikes. They must do all sacrificial  
spinning in a scientific manner. They should be khadi users all through and use village productsb .  
He wanted the youngmen to be aware of the culture they inherit. The youth must perpetuate the present rural  
civilization and endeavour to rid it of its acknowledged defects. Gandhiji exhorted the youth to be beware of the  
seven social sins, politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure conscience, knowledge without  
character, commerce without morality, science without humanity and worship without sacrifice.  
The Policy Environment for Young Peopleb s Health  
While every country has some policy basis for action to promote adolescent and youth health, too few national  
health policies give specific attention to young people. Nonetheless, most United Nations specialized agencies  
are working to ensure that regional strategies and national plans for adolescent and youth health are being  
developed, published and acted upon.  
A successful adolescent and youth health policy, strategy, service, programme or project will almost certainly  
be interdisciplinary and extend beyond the health sector. The role of various social sectors is already known  
and the effectiveness of youth participation acknowledged. The planning and policy frameworks exist at the  
international level and are to a large extent nationally adopted, though so far this has not guaranteed that  
community responses are appropriate, effective or efficient.  
Frameworks, statements, guidelines and policies already touch upon adolescent and youth health in general  
and often cover the health and development concerns of adolescent girls and young women. Adolescent and  
youth concerns receive brief mention in assessments of mental health, violence and injury prevention, and HIV/  
AIDS prevention and care. Adolescent sexual and reproductive health is as yet largely underprotected by  
effective laws and policies.  
The systematic documentation, evaluation and dissemination of projects and intitatives in which young women  
and young men act as agents or change will influence and if necessary reorient how youth health projects are  
managed. Norms, standards and indicators for evaluations, as well as technical guidelines, are still being  
developed as part of the overall effort to achieve large-scale adolescent and youth health programming in which  
young people are fully involved alongside clinicians, technicians and politicians.  
Conclusions and Recommendations  
It is hoped that this paper will stimulate action to build on existing experience in adolescents and youth policy  
and to help accelerate programming in order to ensure the physical, mental, emotional and social health and  
overall well b  being of young people.  
b "
b "
b "
Creating a positive environment for promoting the right of young people to participation. development  
and peace as milestones on their road to better health ;  
Equipping young people with adequate knowledge, self b  esteem and life skills to ensure their healthy  
development and to advocate for their provision at the family, school and community levels;  
Enhancing the concept of gender equality between young men and young women and redressing the  
imbalance in the provision of opportunities- particularly for adolescent girls at risk of early marriage and  
consequent high b  risk pregnancy ;  
b "
Providing care and protection for all young people b  whatever their health, disability, vulnerability or risk  
status, their age, gender, sexual, orientation or class is supported by appropriate legislation, clinical  
procedures and health services including counseling.  
Knowing this, we must act.  
What a difference it makes to our youth when they have places of quality and compassion that care  
about their healthy development b  when our schools and communities are places of welcome that prepare  
them for a future full of options. What a difference it makes when young people have opportunities for active  
engagement and valued contribution. What as difference it makes when there are imaginative advocates who  
refuse to see adolescents only as a set of risk factors and problems. This is the kind of imagination and  
advocacy we need. Our youth deserve this from us; and we cannot afford to do otherwise.  
We must remember b  The young are the future of society but they are very much itb s present !  
Bibliography :-  
Hiramani A B and Sharma Neelam, (1988) b  Health and youth in Indiab , New Delhi, Agam Prakashan.  
Radhakrishnan N, b Gandhi, Youth and Non- Violence : Experiments in Conflict Resolutionb , Shiba printing  
press, 1992.  
Centre for youth Development and Policy Research b  What is youth development ? Academy for educational  
development, 2002. Available at : http// is. html [ accessed Sept 2005].  
Gallagher, Stanley, Shearer, Mosca, b Implementation of youth development programs : Promise and  
Challenges,b  Academic press, New York, 2005.  
Govt. Of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Health Stastics in India, 2009.  
Footnotes :  
Bose R. K., Population in Indiab s Development, Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, 1974  
Source : Population reference bureau : World youth data Sheet. 2009.  
Mahier. H, b World Healthb , WHO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland (1995).  
United Nations Development Programme : Human Development report 2003, New York, Oxford university  
Press , 2003.  
Paul Soundel, world health, WHO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland (1972).