New Delhi: Plagued with problems ranging from stress, unmet family planning needs, unbalanced diets and gender disparities in labour, the Indian youth seems far from turning into an aggressive workforce in future.

India is facing a major challenge in nurturing its youth to make it  a productive labour force. Population dynamics, marital statistics, fertility and contraception, mortality and neonatal health care, literacy and employment play important roles in the lives of young men and women. Interestingly, around half of India’s population in its reproductive age (15-49 years) still does not use a modern method of contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies or space births.

“The aspirations of today’s youth are different. An unmet need for family planning not only affects the abilities of men and women to plan families, but it also decreases overall well-being, limits opportunities to increase earnings, participate in the workforce, access health services, and pursue their own education and that of their children," said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of Population Foundation of India.

For youth already in the workforce, stress remains a major factor. The Cigna 360° Well-Being Survey 2018 done by Cigna TTK Health Insurance covering nearly 14,500 people in 23 markets around the world reveals that stress levels are high in India compared with other developed and emerging countries. About 89% of the population in India said they are suffering from stress compared with the global average of 86%.

The statistics are also disturbing for women in workforce. A report by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation—Youth in India-2017—stated that during 2011-12, about 55% of males and about 18 % of females in rural areas were in the labour force, whereas the corresponding percentages in urban areas were about 56% for males and about 13% for females.

“The lack of infrastructure, unavailability of basic amenities at work places, rigid and inflexible work hours, absence of care facilities at or near the work places have not motivated women to participate in the labour market significantly," said Arup Mitra, professor, health policy research unit at the Institute of Economic Growth.