The 14th conference of Highway Area Sumi Students’ Union (HASSU) was held on December 15, at Diphupar-B Sumi Baptist Church under the theme “Integrity with Progress”, comprising of 21 villages in the union.
The speaker of the conference was founder and chair governing council YouthNet, Hekani Jakhalu.
Jakhalu in her speech reminded that according to census 2011, the youth as defined by the age group 15-35 constituted significant 40.2% of the population or around 8 lakhs. “Over the next 15 years this group will be at the centre and be the main drivers in every aspect – social, political and economic of the State.
Nagaland in 2030 will be defined by how the youth today shape up, moulded by the opportunities and platforms they will or will not get advantage of in the years ahead”, she stated.
Nagaland has the highest rate of rural unemployment amongst all the North Eastern states – 15.9% of the labour force. The urban unemployment rate is also at a high 11.6%, one of the highest in the country and also noted Nagaland has one of the highest school dropout rate in India, which she considered as a personal challenge to improve the conditions and has been working proactively towards it. Against the backdrop of the statistics shared, she mentioned opportunities were limited and only people with merit will shine. If Naga youth has to progress and “New Nagaland” is to develop only meritocracy will work as there was no other substitute. She encouraged the youth to focus on excelling in whatever area they choose to follow and shun away from petty politics and wasting time, saying it was high time for a self-sustainable economy that Nagas build with a focused approach which is achievable target.
She shared her experiences of YouthNet working with 500 Cr Japanese International Development Corporation funded Nagaland Forest Management Program in Dimapur and Zunheboto districts, where only youth with high merit and credible experience were hired to implement the project.
She stressed on the need of having a conducive eco-system for private enterprises to thrive and thus open up employment opportunities for which peace in the region was critical for future investments by private investors. She further stated that infrastructure especially road will be the first point of opening up avenues for development and HASSU needs to identify important roads and push on developing those areas by collectively pursuing it, as good road assures growth in the region. As YouthNet works on building youth, so that they have a better quality of life and future, she committed to helping 100 youth under HASSU on skill development, capacity building and various training programs, which would improve their capacity to be more productive in various walks of life. She also committed to working with HASSU on various areas of youth development like setting up sports clubs and coaching camps to identify and nurture youth in sports, which is equally important to build up their leadership skills. On entrepreneurship, she encouraged HASSU to work on clusters approach for enterprises focusing on handicraft, handloom and agro-based business, which was inherent strength of the region for instant growth.
Western Sumi Students Union ((WSSU) president Kughaho Achumi also exhorted the students.
Earlier in the programme, Minister Jacob Zhimomi, as chief guest stated that the young and dynamic youth of our nation was our greatest strength today, and shared about governance and employment opportunities in various sectors and the way forward.