How Magic Bus helps Youth:

Magic Bus is Asia’s largest youth mentoring organisation. We provide local community role models to children, who we call mentors, to children aged 8-18 years. All our mentors are young adults, who we train from the community to work through a researched, activity-based curriculum we have designed, to bring about behaviour change.  This covers topics, such as equal access to education, health services and social and emotional skills. Our mentoring program starts at 8 years old, on a journey through childhood and can last until we deliver confident young people directly into the workplace, higher education or training opportunities.

Once children reach an appropriate age, we enroll all our youth on either our employability or leadership program positioned to graduate young confident and competent youth at scale into further education or employment. We also support them in mapping out a career path, and then links them with employment or further education opportunities.

The Indian Context:

Young people are a major human resource for development, key agents for social change and driving force for economic development and technological innovation. But harnessing these resources is a major challenge. The youth challenge is considered as the most critical of the 21st century’s economic development challenge.

According to census 2011 there are 64 crores of youth between the ages of 13-35. The population of persons below the age of 35 years in India is about 70% of the total population. Within this, the population between the age of 10 – 19 years is approximately 225 million, the largest ever cohort of young people to make a transition to adulthood.

Why invest in youth?

At the launch of the Knowledge Commission, August 2, 2005, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh remarked:


Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, 2005

“In the next few decades India will probably have the world’s largest set of young people. Even as other countries begin to age, India will remain a country of young people. That I believe is potentially our great advantage. All demographers tell me that if the proportion of working population to total population increases that should be reflected in a sharp increase in the country’s savings rate. And if we can find productive job opportunities for our working population that of course would give us a big opportunity to leapfrog in the race for social and economic development and our growth rates should go up … As I said these youth can be an asset only if we invest in their capabilities … denied this investment, it will become a social and economic liability.”

It is this population of young people, which constitutes, for India, a potential demographic dividend, and/or a challenge of mega proportions if not properly addressed and harnessed. It is this group also that can boost and sustain the economic growth of India seen in absolute terms, on the one hand, and in comparative terms with the other major economies/countries of the world, on the other. A well nurtured and equipped youth cohort will lead to larger productive work participation and consequent growth in the GDP and the well being of the country, and any gaps on this score would make us vulnerable to indeterminable challenges.

Another important commonly known but often ignored reality is that… “The later in life we attempt to repair early deficits, the costlier the remediation becomes.” – James Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences

Policymakers should treat expenditure on children and youth as a public investment that generates returns to society through higher economic growth, reduced social costs, and increased quality of life for all. Given the cumulative nature of human development, under investments in children and youth are difficult to reverse later in life, and the price for society is high. It is more effective to invest early in life than to repair later, when badly equipped adults turn out to be irresponsible citizens who are unskilled, unemployed, or unhealthy. (Reference: World Bank Papers)

Unemployment Rate in India by Age Group