Jobs, Youth and Riots

Steady jobs, incomes,careers and a hope for life keeps vulnerable youth, particularly, from unstable areas away from rampaging on streets. Unemployment may not directly cause a riot but it does fuel it. In an extreme case, a riot may itself demand employment, agitations by Jats in recent time is a example of something similar (economic quota in jobs and education). Perhaps economic prestige trumps social prestige, if there ever is a clash.

Places on the edge with thin rule of law are too muddled, while security and safety seems to be the primary need but then lack of opportunities for the young worsens and pushes the social disorder. In school, my teachers taught me that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop, perhaps for policy makers ensuring we mitigate the risks of this adage will prove to be a smart move. Idle minds and idle hands along with the effects of an incessant propaganda will no wonder have stones in it.

While, there are many new ways to make use of time and waste it too. It has become increasing harder to know the difference between the two.There is a limit to read messages on whatsapp and facebook. A virtual world leaves more longing in the real world. For the young- peer pressure, aspiration and the sense of disconnectedness pushes more spending on non-necessities than on education and life goals. No surprise fancy phone purchases may have a priority over glasses of milk. It is easy then, to make the street a place of arson, time pass and dangerous fun and in worst case live streaming it for likes too. Riding bikes, smashing cars, purposeless wandering, aided by thumping up and misplaced respect from fellow friends is not something unusual. As you get used to a higher status in the streets, the reforming power of homes and the government policies reduces.


One way to utilize youth energies has been through providing them with skills, while it looks theoretically sound, its practicalities are hard. It has been perennially asked why students from poor communities do not join/continue for the jobs they get after skill programs. It is rather simple to understand this. For the people who love the freedom of the streets, the thrill and the respect one gets from vandalizing is absent in a day to day job. Jobs by their very nature domesticate and tame for a specific purpose.Furthermore, most of the jobs available for poor are more dull, dry and low paying. For people used to immense freedom and liberty and in an age where they crave identity formation, it is only extreme need that can put them to such restricting use of time.

Perhaps, that’s why the focus on ensuring youth realize the right steps to take, before the sudden impact of fragile circumstances, involuntarily forces them to, will be a crucial step, the more people realize it voluntarily, the better it would be for them and us. Secondly, for the poor, entrepreneurship is a better policy tool than skills, but then entrepreneurship development is such intricate subject that a sound understanding and implementation of such a policy by government is very difficult.

So for the slums, the inner ghettos and troubled places. a sound understanding of the nuances is critical. These are places where we need a more focused social policy along with counselling and deterrence of law. Citizen engagement and law must go hand in hand. Seeds of a riot must be identified early on, as when many causes combine (perhaps Saharanpur may be an example), identifying the real cause becomes difficult and we normally we scramble to address an associated cause not the root cause. Every home in a place of no or limited opportunity is a potential mini riot. There might be a mini riot in each home. If you do not believe me ask the mother, whose child was picked up in Saharanpur, asked the mother in Kashmir who cannot believe that her child can be involved in something that directly puts him in danger’s way. Very simply, we need to understand that the minds of the youth will be filled with something, whether it is dangerous or beneficial, that is the choice the society has. A focus on skills, entrepreneurship and not paper certificates can at least be a last mile tool to the youth’s positive engagement with the society.

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