Rights and Responsibilities

Youth – Rights and Responsibilities

What the youth can expect in the years to come will depend on how well they understand and leverage their rights and how willingly and efficiently they are able to shoulder their responsibilities. What then are the rights and responsibilities of the youth of India?

National Youth Policy – 2003

1. Preamble

1.1. The National Youth Policy, 2003 reiterates the commitment of the entire nation to the composite and all-round development of the young sons and daughters of India and seeks to establish an All-India perspective to fulfill their legitimate aspirations so that they are all strong of heart and strong of body and mind in successfully accomplishing the challenging tasks of national reconstruction and social changes that lie ahead.

1.2. The earlier National Youth Policy was formulated in 1988. The socio-economic conditions in the country have since undergone a significant change and have been shaped by wide-ranging technological advancement. The National Youth Policy - 2003 is designed to galvanize the youth to rise up to the new challenges, keeping in view the global scenario, and aims at motivating them to be active and committed participants in the exciting task of National Development.

1.3. The Policy is based on recognition of the contribution that the youth can, and should, make to the growth and well-being of the community and endeavours to ensure effective co-ordination between the policies, programmes and delivery systems of the various Ministries, Departments and other Agencies. The thrust of the Policy centres around “Youth Empowerment” in different spheres of national life.

1.4. For India to occupy her rightful place in the Comity of Nations and to meaningfully discharge the manifold obligations thereto, it would be imperative to ensure the effective pursuit of youth development programmes which promote personality development and Qualities of Citizenship and enhance commitment to Community Service, Social Justice, Self-reliance, National Integration and Humanism, an inclusive view of the entire universe as enshrined in our ancient scriptures. The Policy, therefore, recognizes these inter-related values and principles as its basic premise.

2. Rationale

2.1 Since our national progress depends, crucially, on the ways and means through which the youth are encouraged and nurtured as a positive force for national progress and are enabled to contribute to socio-economic development, it is essential for an appropriate policy framework to be in place to harness the energies of the youth in this task.

2.2 Recognizing, further, that youth development is a multi-faceted concept, it is equally necessary that all the relevant agencies, including the Ministries and Departments of the Central and State Governments, and local self Government bodies and Panchayati Raj institutions devise their plans and programmes bearing these aspects and features in mind. The Policy will facilitate a multi-dimensional and integrated approach in this behalf, with the State Agencies striving to accelerate the formulation and implementation of programmes.

2.3 An important indicator of the success of such programmes being the stake of the beneficiaries in the results of the same, this Policy also stresses that the youth of the country should enjoy greater participation in the processes of decision-making and execution at local and higher levels. Such participation would be facilitated by identifiable structures, transparent procedures and wider representation of the youth in appropriate bodies, with the emphasis being more on working with the youth than for the youth.

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Universal Acceptance of the Rights of Youth

The rights of our youth come from two sources: convention and written law. The law as it relates to the youth confers certain rights primarily to meet the needs of young people who require physical, material, and moral support because of their young age. These laws are basically protective in nature. And the notion of laws specifically for the youth is a recent development.

The legal rights to which an individual is entitled begin at birth, and as the individual grows in age entitlement to rights increase as too the responsibilities.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. After the adoption of this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration principally in schools and other educational institutions irrelevant of the political status of countries or territories. This was because the Declaration contained several articles of special interest to youth.

Principle 1

Declaration of Human Rights

The Declaration of Human Rights which deals with family life, work, health, and education contains certain Articles that have special relevance to youth. These Articles are as follows:

Article 16

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 23

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 26

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

The Indian Constitution and Youth

The Indian Constitution has certain articles with the primary objective of safeguarding the basic rights of youth. Some of these safeguards are built into the Fundamental Rights and are enforceable in a court of law. Other guarantees are part of the Directive principles of State Policy which cannot be enforced but underlie government policies and programmes.

Below are some of the provisions of the Constitution that have special relevance to youth:

Part III Fundamental Rights - Right to Education - Article 21 A

Freedom of education incorporates the right of any person to form a school and the right of parents, their children, or students to be educated at the school of their choice. In some countries enrollment in a public or government managed school system is compulsory and individuals are blocked from founding schools without a license. In principle, anyone could found a school, freedom of education is meant to eliminate any monopoly on education.

Right against Exploitation – Article 23 (1)

Article 23(1)prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labour and thus aims at “recognition and restoration of the dignity of man.”

Article 23(2) of the Constitution, the government should not discriminate the citizens on the grounds of Religion, caste, creed and group.

Article 24

This Article provides that no child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

Part III Fundamental Rights - Right to Freedom of Religion – Article 28 (1)

This Article provides that if the institution is an educational one and it is wholly maintained by the State funds, religious instruction cannot be provided in such institution.

Article 28 (2)

Provides that if the educational institution has been established under any endowment or trust which requires that religious instruction shall be imparted in such institution, then despite the prohibition in Article 28(1) and despite the fact that the education institution is in fact administered by the State, religious instruction can be imparted in such institution. Article 28(2) thus in no uncertain terms envisages that an educational institution administered by the State and wholly maintained by the State can impart religious instruction.

Article 28 (3)

States that there may be educational institutions imparting religious instruction according to whichever faith and conducting religious worship which can be recognised by the State and which can also receive aid out of State funds. Similarly, Article 28(3) provides that no individual attending any educational institution which may have been recognised by the State or is receiving State aid can be compelled to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution without such person's consent. Implicit in this prohibition is the acknowledgement that the State can recognize and aid an educational institution giving religious instruction or conducting religious worship. In the United States, on the other hand it has been held that State maintained institutions cannot give religious instruction even if such instruction is not compulsory.

Part III Fundamental Rights – Cultural and Educational Rights – Article – 29 (2) is a protection against discrimination on the ground of religion, race, caste or language, and does not in any way come into play where the minority institution prefers students of its choice.

To put it differently, denying admission, even though seats are available on the ground of the applicant’s religion, race, caste or language is prohibited, but preferring students of minority groups does not violate Article 29(2).

Article 30(1)

“All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”

Article 30(2)

This Article prevents state discrimination against a minority educational institution.

Article – 39(a)

All citizens of India have equal right to an adequate means to livelihood.

Article – 39(c)

The state shall direct its policy to securing the health and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength

Article 39(f)

Childhood and youth are guarded against exploitation and moral and material abandonment.

Article – 41

The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.

Article 42

The State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

Article 44

The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.

Article 45

The State shall endeavor to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

Article 46 Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections

The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

V Fundamental Duties Article 51 (A) (k)

It shall be the duty of every citizen of India who is a parent or a guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or as the case may be ward, between the ages of 6 and 14.

Although Part IV of the constitution refers to fundamental duties, it makes special reference to proper education and socialization of youth. The National Charter of 2004 of the Government of India emphasizes the government’s commitment to children’s rights to survival, development and protection.

Welfare Laws and Regulations

The governments at the centre and the states have enacted laws that favor welfare and development of children and youth in the areas of health, education and employment.

Responsibilities of Youth

The following are the responsibilities as enumerated by the National Youth Policy:

  • To contribute to sectoral, family and self development and to promote social and inter-generation understanding and gender equality
  • To extend respect to teachers and elders, parents and the family, in consonance with our cultural norms and traditions
  • To uphold the unity and integrity of the Nation, maintain peace and harmony, observe Fundamental Duties and respect the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution to all sections of the people
  • To respect others’ faiths and beliefs in the religious, cultural and social spheres and to different schools of thought and to neither exploit nor be instrumental in the exploitation of fellow citizens and other persons, especially women
  • To promote appropriate standards of ethical conduct in individual and social life, to maintain honesty and integrity of character and be committed to fight against all forms of corruption, social evils and practices
  • To preserve and protect the Environment; and
  • To commit themselves to create a discrimination and exploitation free environment and to devote their time and energy in nation building activities