Introduction

Introduction

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7384-5.ch001

Abstract

Adolescence, the second decade of life, is a period of transition from childhood to adulthood marked by rapid changes, which are physical, social, and psychological in nature. Of the 12 million girls born in India every year, 1.5 million girls die before the age of one and one out of every four does not live to celebrate her fifteenth birthday due to gender discrimination and gross neglect. This can be linked to neglect of females as infants, as children, as adolescents, and as mothers. Impaired mental and emotional health is a precursor or consequence of many health-risk behaviors such as physical, sexual, social, or emotional abuse. These dilemmas arise out of everyday issues like peer influence, dating identity, emerging sexuality, independence, separation, identity crises, anxiety, and responsibility as well as more serious ones like violent behavior, experimental sex, teenage suicides, and other health-related disorders.
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Key Facts

  • India is one of the largest demographic countries in this world, with 22.1 percent of youth available in the country (Paramasivan & Kumaresan, 2016).

  • About 34 percent of India’s Gross National Income (GNI) is contributed by the youth, aged 15-29 years (Paramasivan & Kumaresan, 2016).

  • Worldwide, there are more than 1.2 billion adolescents who indicate that roughly one in every six persons is an adolescent (UNICEF, 2012).

  • In India, about 2 percent of total population is adolescent which constitutes about 243 million adolescents (Government of India, 2014).

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Introduction

Youth constitutes the most precious human resources contributing to social and economic progress of any nation. Though there is considerable vagueness in the definition of youth and terms like adolescents, youth and young adults which are often used interchangeably. However, World Health Organization (WHO) defines ‘adolescence’ as the second decade of life from 10 to 19 years, “youth” as those who are in 15-24 years’ age group and these two overlapping age groups constitute “young people” covering the age group of 10-24 years (WHO, 2013). As per the National Youth Policy (2014), the age group of 15-29 years considered as youth, and as per the UNESCO report, the age group of 15-24 years are considered as youth.

India is one of the largest demographic countries in this world, with 22.1 percent of youth available in the country. Young people are the nation’s future and investment in their development is critical. Youth in the age group of 15-29 years comprise 27.5 percent of the population. At present, about 34 percent of India’s Gross National Income (GNI) is contributed by the youth, aged 15-29 years (Paramasivan & Kumaresan, 2016).

Truly, the youth are the most important and dynamic segment of the population in any country. India is witnessing a historic demographic shift and ability to find its rightful place in the community of nations depends upon how well India as a nation, can harness the latent power of the young people of the country. However, there exists a huge potential to increase the contribution of this class of the nation’s citizenry by increasing their labour force participation and their productivity (Paramasivan & Kumaresan, 2016).

Adolescents constitute the population in the age group of 10 to 19 years. It is a transitional phase characterized by physical, physiological and psycho-social development ranging from puberty to adulthood. Worldwide, there are more than 1.2 billion adolescents who indicate that roughly one in every six persons is an adolescent (UNICEF, 2012). In India, about 2 percent of total population is adolescent which constitutes about 243 million adolescents (Government of India, 2014). These adolescents are the future of the nation, thus forming a major demographic and economic force.

This period of adolescence further comprises of three phases i.e. early adolescence (11-14 years), middle adolescence (15-17 years) and late adolescence (18-21 years) (Stang & Story, 2005). Young adults are the individuals in the age group of 20 to 24 years (Jekielek & Brown, 2005). The National Youth Policy of India (2003) defines the youth population as those in the age group of 15 to 35 years (Planning Commission Report, 2008).

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