Sports Ministry starts youth development plan

New Delhi: In a major initiative, the Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry has drawn up a programme for the skill development and employment of youth which will start with the North-Eastern region soon.

As part of the project, a workshop would be organised here on February 4 for the Youth and Sports Ministers and other officials of the North Eastern states to work out the specific programmes for the region.

New Sports Minister Ajay Maken told reporters that the age group of 15 to 35 constituted about 40 per cent of the country`s total population and it was imperative to provide opportunities and skill development programmes for them.

"The aim would be to make the youth a vibrant force against all existing streams of divisive, extremist and separatist forces," he said.

Giving details of the scheme, Maken said the the country would be divided into four parts for the programme — Jammu and Kashmir, North Eastern states, Tribals areas and the rest of the country.

Maken said the projects, in collaboration with FICCI, will start with the North Eastern region while the Naxal-infested tribal areas will be taken up next in March-April.

"We have to draw up new schemes for the youth as some of the schemes have become outdated. These are specific programmes and tailor-made for each region. The focus will be skill development and employment through sports," he said.

"If we can generate skill development programmes and employment, the insurgency-related problems could also be addressed. Unemployment is a root cause for such problems," he pointed out.

Talking about the north-eastern region, Maken said infrastructure has to be developed in the region. "In north east, there is natural talent for sports. We have to use," he explained.

He said after drawing up the programmes, he will approach the Planning Commission and Finance Ministry for financial assistance.

Asked whether he has earmarked a specific budget for the programmes, the Minister said the financial details will be worked out at a later stage.

"That is the second stage, we will work that out later," he said.

Maken admitted that many of the youth development schemes suffered due to lack of proper evaluation in the past.

"These schemes have been prepared in such a way that it has an in-built system of evaluation. All the future programmes will have these in-built system of evaluation so that we are in a position to measure the output," he said.