Sanasam Yaiphaba Singh
Youths in Manipur have a limited and unequal access to healthcare, employment and other social issues apart from the exclusion in the decision making processes. In Manipur about 37 percent of the population are in the age group of 13–35 as per 2001 census. The Manipur State Youth Policy (2011) covered all youth of the State in this age group of 13-35 years. In India the share of youth (15-35) in the total population is about 34.8% and total youth population is 422 million in 2011. As per the National Youth Policy, youth was initially defined ‘as persons in the age group 13-35’, and in 2014 it was modified ‘as in the age-group of 15-29’. But for defining youth UN adopted the age group 15 to 24.
It appears that the strategy of slogan and instruction of lockdown and unlock will go on while waiting for all vaccination and availability of appropriate medicines along with possible upgradation of healthcare infrastructure and management system. Under such a grave circumstance a new strategy to involve the activities of youths and sportspersons who otherwise have been confining in their respective homes doing nothing except killing time with mental stress may be considered for engaging and their services utilised in implementation of Covid fighting programmes. The services of this category of people which constitute the most energetic sections of the State’s available human resource now being unused and lying idle may conveniently be utilised during the pandemic in managing suitable programmes to check the chain of spreading the virus otherwise there is chance of inflicting depression, anxiety, sleeplessness among them.
But what remains to be answered is-how to utilise the service of the youth, how shall the strategy be worked out, would it be bottoms down from top or from among the youth themselves ? The motivation, mobilisation and deployment of the youth force may be considered through the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports, Nehru Yuva Kendra of every district, National Cadet Corps of schools and colleges, National Service Scheme of colleges and universities, scouts and guides, local clubs, sports associations, certain non-Government organisations, besides the various local self-Government units in town and village levels. We have experienced that Manipur Red Cross Society, Manipur Chapter and a number of local clubs, committees and village authorities have contributed wonderful services.
Now everybody knows and feels the worst impact of the second wave of COVID-19 in Manipur. The impact has become so critical and pandemic that the positive cases have been continually surging every day from 314 on 29 April to 1032 on May 30, 2021. The higher the number of positive cases there is a corresponding increase in the number of death cases. The total positive cases was 49,882 while death toll was 793 as on 30th May 2021. In view of present trend of infection among a wide range of the people, it is likely that everyone is apprehensive in some way or the other about the likelihood of getting infected by the virus. It seems that some day or the other the coronavirus is sure to arrive at every locality and will start knocking at the door of each family if present trend is allowed to continue.
Under such pandemic situation, the youth have a very big role to play. The population percentage of youth between the age groups of 13-35 is about 37% and the number of youth in this group is about 8.84 lakh in Manipur (2001). Besides the literacy rate of the State is 76.90% (Census 2011). As per provision of the Right to Education Act, the light of education has already reached every corner of the State. With the education, if the youth are engaged in fighting COVID-19 it would be fruitful in helping to contain the disease.
If the youth associate with the practical aspects of the implementation of the Government orders and guidelines in its true sense, it will certainly be effective to contain the disease. It is the responsibility of the youth to be aware of the the appropriate use of facemask, keeping physical distance, frequently hand wash and the advices of the authorities. The communication can be done suitability by using social media and telephone during the present lockdown and curfew. We know that lockdown will not continue for a long period and a time will come to relax it. During such a period of relaxation, people tend to come out to purchase essential items and vegetables. During such time the youth with their knowledge as responsible citizens of the State can manage to strictly observe SOPs and help the others follow the guidelines without difficulty.
Youth are the future of the society. They should face the present situation with all their might and resources, and this will create meaningful future for them. We have to depend on policy which may need frequent upgradations and changes. The youth of the State took active role during the Seven Years Devastation and the Anglo Manipur War. Hijam Irabot while he was studying in Johnstone School fought against the teacher for torture of innocent students. They fought their present for our future. The COVID-19 has waged a war on human beings and we are fighting the war. It is our unavoidable responsibility to fight the present pandemic with all our resources. We cannot escape that there is shortage of resources and money. We will defeat the disease and succeed. Our state is fortunate that we have sufficient manpower and capability to fight. Only about 5% of the strength of the youth force can cope with the situation. Our only requirements are a little improvement in the system and resource mobilisation. Medicines, medical infrastructure and vaccine are areas of concern.
The writer is PhD scholar, Manipur University Id: [email protected]