India’s youth are civically engaged, but they face challenges in other critical areas of wellbeing.
India’s overall rank in youth wellbeing falls in the bottom tier of countries in the Index. However, due to its strong democratic institutions and robust electoral processes at the national and state levels, the country does well in the citizen participation domain. India’s young people experience challenges in health, education, economic opportunity, information and communication technology, and gender equality.
India ranks 23rd in the economic opportunity domain. In 2014, the unemployment rate among India’s youth was 10 percent, significantly lower than the Index average of 17 percent for the same year. Early-stage entrepreneurial activity is at 11 percent, but global competitiveness has been following a downward trend (currently ranking 12th for this indicator). At 27 percent, India’s share of youth not in education, employment, or training (NEET) is significantly higher than the Index average (16 percent).
India has witnessed dramatic transformations in youth literacy, which went from 54 percent in 1981 to almost 90 percent in 2015. The percentage of youth completing lower secondary education also has risen significantly, from 43 percent in the early 1980s to 81 percent in 2013. However, relative to other Index countries, India places in the bottom third of the rankings for these education indicators.
Gender equality remains a challenge in India. Thirty-six percent of women report a fear of walking alone at night, and, at 27 percent, the female youth marriage rate is one of the highest in the Index. By contrast, India’s rate of adolescent fertility has decreased from 109 per 1,000 women in 1982 to 23 per 1,000 in 2015.
The Global Millennial Viewpoints Survey
India’s youth are optimistic about their economic future despite the objective data. Sixty-six percent of Indian youth surveyed believe that their future standard of living will be better than that of their parents.
A little less than half of young Indians surveyed believe that their government is serving them; 45 percent say their government does not care about their wants and needs. This figure is significantly lower than the Index average of 68 percent.
In contrast to what the objective data says about gender equality in India, 92 percent of Indian youth surveyed agree that women should have all the same rights as men. This response is on par with the Index average of 89 percent.