S S Bindra, Chairman of the PYDB, seeking feedback from youngsters. (Gurmeet Singh)
In Punjab, as in the rest of the country, youngsters are increasingly bothered about the lack of employment opportunities. In Punjab, in particular, they often fall prey to drug addiction. Those that are good in studies, tend to leave the state for foreign shores, either to study further or work. Those who stay back and fail to get a job can be seen protesting on the streets. Now, the Punjab government has started a unique initiative which aims to reach out to the state’s youngsters and understand from them the problems plaguing their life.
Under this initiative, which is being spearheaded by the Punjab Youth Development Board (PYDB), the government is conducting meetings with the youth across the state — cities, blocks and villages — and urging them to tell the government what needs to be done to remedy the situation.
Sukhwinder Singh Bindra, the newly appointed Chairman of PYDB, says, “I took charge 2 months ago and after taking the charge, I thought of finding out as what is ailing the youth of the state. Why are they so keen to go to Canada, Australia or other countries abroad? What is the reason for their unrest?” Bindra’s idea was to connect with the youth in a better way. “We are doing meetings in every district in which the youth is invited to give us feedback. Several government officials are also involved in these meetings and at times, we redress their issues on the spot,” says Bindra. “They are also writing to us. Daily, our office in Chandigarh gets 20-25 written responses from youngsters from across the state,” he claims.
So what has been the typical feedback? Bindra says many of them who come from the cities complain about overcrowded roads, traffic congestion, increasing road accidents. In the villages, people give feedback about the smuggling and use of drugs. “We do intimate the local police when we come across such information,” says Bindra.
But beyond the lack of adequate civic amenities in the cities and the use of drugs in the villages, the main issue troubling the youth is unemployment, according to Bindra. “I have written to all the universities in Punjab seeking details of the success of their placement camps. Normally, it is the duty of the colleges to organise placement camps and help children get employment as these students pay a fee. But the placement record of many colleges is not very encouraging. Though their feedback is yet to come back, as per rough estimate, placements are not more than 30 per cent in most colleges while it should be more than 90 per cent,” says Bindra. He believes that if the Punjabi youth can find jobs within the country they will not run abroad.
Beyond the lack of adequate employment, the PYDB members also found that they received several complaints about pending cases in the police department. To set this right, PYDB approached the concerned officers.
“Our meetings have just started and we have conducted over 25 such meetings and these meetings will continue to happen. The Board will be giving overall feedback to the Chief Minister of Punjab,” Bindra added.
But the PYDB is going beyond just redressing complaints and following up with universities and police departments. It is also trying to build confidence in the youth and encourage and help them get a job as soon as possible. To this end, they have decided to honour the youngsters who are doing credible work in any field — be it sports, social sector or academics. The idea is for the youth to find it easy to get a job and make their job application better.
Further, in the village level meetings, the PYDB is trying to revive sports clubs. Not too long ago, there were over 13,000 such sports clubs across the state but now nearly 6,000 of them are lying unused. New elections of club management bodies are being conducted so as ensure more youngsters connect with each other and get involved in different sports.