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Narayana Raja, Principal, Madurai Institute of Social Sciences, Madurai The greatest asset of every Nation is youth resources. The social scientist describes youth as "assets," "active agents of social change," or "decision-makers," as well as by individuals who are promoting more democratic, inter-generational relationships through "adult-youth partnerships. Swami Vivekananda the great Philosopher says to youth: "Supreme value of youth period is incalculable and indescribable. Youth life is the most precious life. Youth is the best time. The way in which you utilize this period will decide the nature of coming years that lie ahead of you. Your happiness, your success, your honor and your good name all depend upon the way in which you live now, in this present period..." Youth are the agents for sustainable long-term social and economic development, and are an integral part of Nation building process. The United Nations has recognized the important role that youth play in development of the world. The year 1985 was observed International Youth Year for Participation, Development and Peace. The General Assembly adopted in 1995 the World Program of Action for Youth. The UN General Assembly has defined youth role in society as consisting of following four components (UNA/40/256, 1985): 1. Economic participation, relating to work and development; 2. Political participation, relating to decision making processes and distribution of power; 3. Social participation, relating to community development and peer group; and 4. Cultural participation, relating to arts, music, cultural values and expressions

Active participation and strong leadership are not dependent on age, but rather on personal factors such as motivation to achieve, vision, and passion for a cause. UN Action for Youth agenda recognizes that youth voice should be increased through meaningful representation, participation in community affairs and political decision making bodies. But this is dependent upon conditions such as opportunities to participate, the supportive networks, National policies, and political contexts. The condition in which youth can succeed is by virtue of two drives. One is personal initiative and the other is social supportive networks. The paper is an effort to highlight importance of youth in development of rural areas based on the five components of competency principle.

1. Character: Youth acquire a sense of responsibility and accountability, the ability

to thrive despite adversity

2. Confidence: Young people develop a sense of self-worth based on their ability to

make choices and take the initiative

3. Connection: Young people develop a positive sense of belonging to their

community, to caring adults, and to their peers

4. Competence: Youth are enabled to master sound educational and vocational skills

to earn a living
5. Contribution: Youth become civil minded and wish to contribute their time, ideas,

and talents to better their communities

Through this participation in development the young people gain self esteem, confidence, and essential life skills such as decision making, conflict management, teamwork, etc. As they build these competencies, youth begin to think of themselves as partners and stakeholders in society


India lies in villages and the rural development is core for the overall development. Rural development has long been equated with agriculture but with the onset of Panchayat Raj system and 73rd amendment of Indian Constitution the concept of rural development moved to a dimension inculcating more comprehensive development. It encompasses employment generation, health, education, infrastructure and thus youth participation in community development and local governance has been articulated several times over. The role of rural youth has been described as 'change agents' and 'bridge between technology and society'. Rural youth with relatively greater exposure to modern production technologies, institutional forms, linkages within the rural society and outside world and greater propensity for experimentation with new systems can very effectively plan and play development roles to bring fruits of change for the whole society. Rural youth have played as drivers by ushering social and political systems towards change. As the first principle of competence says Youth need to develop the feeling of accountability towards the community that they live in and to foster the development process. This can be achieved only through their increased participation in the activities Traditionally youth all over in rural community continue to provide additional income to their families, diversify the range of family income generation sources. Their boundless energy and innate idealism could yield higher results to the various development activities which could bring out the desired social transformation. It forms an absolute necessity to provide opportunities, motivate and train the youths for involvement in programmes and activities which could develop the total personality of the youth and make them functionally efficient, economically productive and socially useful for the rural community. This will highly develop their self worth and thus their development The big change can be initiated with the supportive role of Nehru Yuva Kendras, NSS and other local youth clubs.

In addition to undertaking programmes, like construction and repair of roads, school buildings, village ponds, tanks, tree plantation, etc., youth can widely be trained as trainers to participate in programmes like environmental improvement, hygiene and sanitation, family welfare, child-care, mass immunisation, vocational training in craft, tailoring, knitting, and organizing co-operatives. They can also render assistance to local authorities and communities in the implementation of various relief and rehabilitation programmes. Thus, as partners in development, the performance of youth need to be channelised. Youth are playing leading role with regard to their political participation specially with regard to involvement in panchayati Raj. A majority are coming forward to take up the reins of leadership. As participants in Grama sabhas, nowadays, their involvement has far improved beyond the stage of silent spectators. But majority still remain onlookers. When a portion of them stay away it not only affects the implementation but also the accountability of the programme. Every Grama sabha should have a vision for development combined with a youth mission. This will help in utilizing the productive youth resource. Especially in the case of Social Audit it is noteworthy to say that rural youth should actively participate in the Social audit. CONSTRAINTS: Rural youth like any rational economic agent are guided by self interest. The first and foremost concern that they have relates to issues surrounding their employment. Various employment programmes like TRYSEM has been initiated by government to give push to the process. Therefore, there is no harm in assuming that most of them do have a concern for parental households and community: it would be more realistic to recognize that they would pursue activities that are personally most rewarding. Employment is the most pressing problem that is also limiting the role that rural youth can play in other spheres of life. It would be imprudent and unrealistic to expect that they would be able to play any meaningful role in political, community and social & cultural spheres all of which require a certain degree of personal financial security. A person who doesnt have the finance for his basic needs are going to be less likely concerned with Society and its issues.

The other is the lack of training and other supportive networks.The government should more steps to motivate and develop the competency to connect with the local resources,provide them with competence in traing aspects to make them contribute positively. CONCLUSION: Youth participation acquires particular significance in rural development initiatives. The new generation must be educated about how to build a strong rural India and to contribute significantly to development. But active participation cannot be expected to happen overnight when a person just reaches voting age: it must be learned "by doing" through experiences: opportunities to participate in decision-making, weighing options and consequences. These are individual skills that help build rural society and young peoples commitment to the rural development.

REFERANCE: Apabarao Uppakar (1998), Rural Youth in Mordern India, New Delhi, Uppal publications, Gupta.K.R. (2003), Rural Development In India, New Delhi, Atlantic publishers,