Definition of Youth

Youth are defined as those aged 15 to 29 in the national youth policy (2014). This age-group constitutes 27.5% of India’s population. The 2011 Census counted 563 million young people from 10 to 35, according to the 12th Five-Year Plan Vol. II (2013).


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 21
  • --
  • XX

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Between the agres of 7 - 12, it must be proved that the child had criminal capacity at the time of committing the offence. Source:  Penal Code of India

Majority Age


A range of different minimum legal ages are defined by national legislation. Source: UN Child Rights Periodic Report (2003)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 92.87% Male (15-24) %
  • 87.21% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 19.00% Male (13-15) %
  • 8.30% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
A new national youth policy was adopted in 2014. See the 2010 draft, 2012 draft and 2003 version.

The new national youth policy (2014) aims to: create to a productive workforce –contributing to India’s economic development – and a
strong and healthy generation; promote social values and community services; facilitate participation and civic engagement; support youth at risk and create equitable opportunity for all disadvantaged & marginalised youth. Priority areas of intervention are education, employment and skill development, entrepreneurship, health, sports, participation in politics, inclusion and social justice. The new policy also aims to provide a framework and guidelines for stakeholders. Another guiding document in the field of youth is the Report of the Working Group on Adolescents and Youth for the formulation of the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017).

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Youth and Sports is the governmental authority responsible for youth at federal level in India. It is supported in its responsibilities by the respective departments in the Indian states. The central Ministry oversees programmes geared towards young people in the field of education, volunteering, housing and development, and it organises an annual National Youth Festival. The Ministry funds the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, a think-tank and training institution for youth related policies and implementation strategies.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
According to the national youth policy (2014), youth organisations in India are “fragmented, and there is little coordination between the various stakeholders working on youth.” Various national platforms and party youth wings exist, yet, “there are no systematic channels for engagement between the government and young citizens and no mechanisms for youth to provide inputs to government,” the national youth policy (2014) highlights. India is a member of the Commonwealth Youth Council.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
INR 370 billion
USD 6.16 billion
The national youth policy (2014) states that targeted expenditure on youth of INR 370 billion (USD 6.16 billion) is supplemented by INR 550 billion (USD 9.17 billion) spent on youth in other schemes. Together this equals outlays of INR 2,710 (USD 45) per young person in 2010-2011. According to the 12thFive-Year-Plan Vol. I (2013) the Budget of the Ministry of Youth and Sports declined by 15.1% between 2007-2012 and 2012-2017. According to the World Bank, India spent 11.02% of its government expenditure and 3.17% of its GDP on education provision in 2011.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

From the national youth policy (2014)  
A key challenge is that there has been no systematic assessment to understand the current status of the youth segment, the challenges they face and the inter-linkages between these areas. Furthermore, there has been no concerted effort to identify the range of stakeholders working on youth development, analyse the impact of their activities and determine how these stakeholders can be aligned & leveraged to more effectively support the youth.
It is critical that youth are represented and can participate in politics at all levels. Youth participation and engagement on issues related to politics, democracy, accountability and governance will help create an able generation of future leaders of the country.
Despite a growing focus on youth participation in lower levels of governance, and a clear political push to help more young people transition from student and youth politics to national politics; there is very little coordinated action to promote youth engagement in politics and governance. … Existing programmes …  are focused on youth who are already elected leaders or in some way associated with politics, rather than on bringing more youth into political systems. … It is important to note that youth political participation is not limited to young individuals contesting elections. It also includes mobilising the youth to vote and promote the effective functioning of democratic systems and processes. A more consistent effort is required to engage with young voters, understand their concerns and help them see the short-term and long-term benefits of voting for their most preferred candidate or party.
Youth development is not an activity that can be performed in isolation by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. One key mechanism for ensuring that all Ministries work towards mainstreaming youth development and participation is to identify linkages between Ministry of Youth and Sports and other Ministries.
  From the Report of the Working Group on Adolescent and Youth for the formulation of the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017).  
The Working Group … makes the following recommendations: … 18-30 years of age should be the age criterion for Youth and those between 13 to 18 years should be categorised as Adolescents. Young persons in the age group of 13- 18 years must be the responsibility of Schemes under the School Education Sector and the Child Development Sector. The age for exercising adult franchise is 18 years. Therefore Youth Policy (and the Ministry of Youth Affairs) must focus on youth between 18-30 years.
All States should also have a State Youth Policy to cater for State or region-specific needs and concerns of young people and a Department of Youth Affairs to have focus on programme and activities for youth who are within the age-group of 18 to 30 years.
Even though National Youth Policy has chalked out various strategies for mainstreaming the unrepresented sections of youth in India, a common understanding of what is meant by 'youth mainstreaming' in different circumstances and contexts does not exist. Mainstreaming of youth needs incorporation of the voices of young people into decision making processes and implies major changes in the attitude of both youth and adults, in policies and social structures.
  From the 12th Five-Year Plan Vol. II (2013)  
Even though public spending on youth affairs and sports has risen from a meagre INR 1,146 crore in the Eighth Plan to INR 14,764 crore during the Eleventh Plan, it remains very small, just about 2 per cent of the public spending on education. This should progressively be increased to 5 per cent over the years. More so, the relative share of the States has continuously gone down from 62 per cent in the Eighth Plan to 43 per cent during the Eleventh Plan.
The total youth population (10–35 years) in the country was 563 million as per Census 2011 with about 70 per cent living in the rural areas. With a view to bring greater focus and better targeting, youth is being redefined to cover people in the age group of 15 to 30 years in place of 15 to 35 years.
  From the 12th Five-Year Plan Vol. III (2013)  
The country has made significant progress in improving access to education in recent years. … Enrolment of children at the primary education stage has now reached near-universal levels. … Youth literacy increased from 60 per cent in 1983 to 91 per cent in 2009–10 and adult literacy improved from 64.8 per cent in 2001 to 74 per cent in 2011.
The gender gap in elementary education has declined with the female/male ratio for years of education and literacy reaching over 90 per cent in 2009–10. A significant reduction in socio-economic inequality in access to education and a narrowing of the gap between Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) and other social groups has been achieved.
The biggest concern in elementary education is the poor level of student learning—both scholastic and co-scholastic/non-cognitive. Evidence suggests that learning outcomes for children in Indian schools are far below corresponding class levels in other countries, and that the learning trajectories for children who remain in school are almost flat.
Unemployment is higher among the youth and the educated who are looking for better quality jobs. The figure shows that unemployment among the age group 15–29 years for both males and females and in urban and rural areas is significantly higher than the average level of unemployment of all persons.
  From A Profile of Youth in India (2009)  
Most youth are exposed to some form of media.  Seventy per cent of women and 88 per cent of men age 15-24 have at least weekly exposure to television, radio, or newspapers/magazines or monthly exposure to the cinema. Media exposure is much lower in rural than in urban areas. The most common form of media to which youth are exposed is television.
Women are much less likely than men to be exposed to each type of media. Women with no education and women in rural areas have particularly low levels of regular media exposure.
Female youth are more likely than male youth to belong to the lowest wealth quintile and less likely to be in the higher wealth quintiles. Female youth, on average, live in poorer households than male youth.