What does young India want?
Better health infrastructure, sex education, clean air – that’s what over 1,00,000 young Indians (between the age of 10 to 24) were asked in a poll called ‘YouthBol’ conducted by Centre for Catalysing Change.
The Delhi-based NGO asked the youth of 27 states to complete the sentence, “For my physical and mental health and well-being, I want...”
Access to good health infrastructure ranked on top, with 36% of respondents demanding it. Better in-school services like quality libraries and regular mid-day meals ranked second with 26% of respondents asking for them.
For instance, speaking about the lack of sex education, a 17-year-old girl from Tamil Nadu said in the survey, “There is a family planning and reproduction system chapter in the class 12 Zoology book. Teachers are not teaching that.”
The demand for clean air also featured prominently; a sentiment reflected in the outrage young Indians have expressed about Delhi’s air pollution crisis.
Prioritising Mental & Sexual Health
The poll found that a demand for more information and awareness about sexual health featured quite prominently, with 24 percent young people prioritising it as an issue they consider important under the broader demand for better healthcare. “We need awareness campaigns on human trafficking and information on sexual health,” said a 14-year-old girl from Mizoram.
Access to affordable mental healthcare is an important issue too, especially among young people from marginalised communities. A 17-year-old transgender youth from Gujarat quoted in the survey says,
“Mental harassment by ‘general’ (category) people in school causes depression.”
Need Education, Not Masti Ki Paatshaala
“It would be nice to be allowed to read storybooks in the library twice in a week,” said a 13-year-old respondent from West Bengal. Demand for better facilities at school such as playgrounds, libraries, teachers, access to toilets and improvement in mid-day meals was high on the priority list for young people in this survey.
A 15-year-old girl from Jammu and Kashmir said, “Our school should have a good computer lab where students can have access to the latest technological knowledge.”
Our World, Our Future
A clean environment – better air and water – was stated as their primary need for 9% of the respondents in the poll. Out of this 9%, better sanitation and clean air emerged as an important demand. It’s a demand that resonates with how teenagers today — like Greta Thunberg and the “Fridays for Future” movement — are at the forefront of the fight against climate change.
For young people, well-being is not divorced from good governance. Over 8,000 young people or 8% of total respondents in the survey demanded a government committed to providing services like roads and Anganwadi centres. A similar number of people asserted the importance of knowing more about gender identities and demanded more attention for gender-based discrimination.