Dr Pravin Togadia
THERE may be a debate on the exact percentage of youth in the world and in Bharat. Some say 56 per cent, some 65 per cent. Fact is that youth is a driving force today; not just because of their number, but also because of their involvement. They are intellectually and emotionally involved today in almost every issue around. Be it global warming or sexual crime or corruption or art. Youth in any generation even earlier too had their own opinions mostly different from the earlier generation. Today’s youth is not opinionated; they are ‘informed’ and ‘aware’. This is their special characteristic.
Today’s youth is exposed to information from many sides and by many ways: Print and electronic media, Internet, social sites, what’s app, faster phone communications and global sharing of visual info. There was a time when there was info overdose which was called info explosion some 20 years back. Today much more info has been floating around but today’s youth has the wherewithal to verify the truth. And they have guts and willingness to verify it. This differentiates today’s youth from the earlier young generations. Not that earlier youth did not wish to verify any info but the means were limited.
Before getting into the details of why I say, ‘Don’t Preach; Facilitate Youth Aspirations’, let us take a tour elsewhere. During British Raj, the youth was charged up with the freedom movement. 1947 Independence came about with the fractured Bharat and while some sections of the youth then were concerned about it, along with them all youth got busy in dreams of the happy free Bharat. With one generation passed in waiting to really see the meaning of freedom, soon the next generation that is children of the freedom fighter’s children – born between 1960 and 1975 got thrown in the sudden upheavals of wars with neighbouring countries, internal socio-political disturbances due to slow pace of dreams coming true due to failure of the government policies as they were outdated. Youth stood up and started questioning everything – exactly the way today’s youth is doing. It was our youth generation then. Led by a solid ideology of nation building, this youth brigade guided by the experience of the earlier well-read generation, stood up against all violations of fundamental rights. Such was the power of this uprising of youth then that the government had to slap Emergency on the entire nation! And what happened was inevitable! Youth overthrew the tyrants.
Then came the generation that was born between 1975 and 1985. This generation when became ‘youth’ had to face economic turmoil much more than the political situations. Reforms in economic and social policies were thrust on to this generation and they had to literally rush their lives with hopeless systems about which they could not do much. They were exposed to info but partly; they had no active charged up issues around them other than the pressure of their own survival in the social disputes which flared up due to political designs. This generation, which is now age 28 to 38, in their prime youth of 16 to 22 turned cynical. Discarding what is established and being nonconformist is a peculiarity of almost all youth of any generation but this youth generation turned a bit negative about many things including their own self. Some, yes, excelled on their own in the modern fields. The gift of hi-tech was from this generation of fiercely introvert youth. The world got best of knowledge systems by this generation, fruits of which are being reaped rightfully so, by today’s youth.
The hi-tech revolution that began then now has bloomed to benefit not only youth but also from kids to the middle aged. In all fields of life, the basis is information. Today, sharing of information has been added to the fresh minds and the youth of today is not cynical because they have ‘friends’ to share their info and emotions. Be it Facebook or Twitter. Be it SMSs in small towns and villages. Today’s youth not only sees the dreams but also has the capacity to fulfill them.
More than that, today’s youth has the power to influence the systems because today’s youth thinks ‘global’. Nation, the society, the environment around this youth is all part of this ‘global’ environment. The best part of it is that today’s youth while protecting own privacy and respecting that of others; also cares for others! This generation knows the issues that matter to not only the youth but also for all. Thus ‘we all’ has a great potential to take the nation ahead.
Care and concern springing out of the knowledge and compassion showed clearly in the issues like the Delhi rape incident. It was not an urban phenomenon as it reflected all over. Those who were not at India Gate were discussing the matter on a larger foundation among themselves. Government had to move.
And this is ‘THE’ power of today’s youth. With global and local knowledge due to the fastest communications and sharing systems, today’s youth has the sharpest and the highest aspirations. Aspirations for themselves on the individual level – to get good education, to get good living be it a job or a business, to live good life – is obviously there. They also have, therefore, social and national aspirations. They know that they cannot get what they want just being individual islands. Youth, therefore, have opinions and action plans about almost everything that matters to them. This makes them social activists.
Here is the catch. Treating this mighty youth power as a vote-bank is a temptation that many political parties cannot avoid; treating this youth solidarity as a tool for social movements using them to bend governments is the temptation that social activists cannot avoid and treating the youth’s aspirations to get the best of things in life as a big market is the temptation that the FMCGs cannot avoid! But today’s youth is not a gang of fools or not some innocent dreamy youngsters who will believe in anything. Their strength is their knowledge and their systems to verify the facts. They don’t trust anyone or anything at the face value. They ask questions, they debate, they evaluate and then make decisions. So, no political person or party, no social thinkers or groups should ever try to preach today’s youth. They are not enamored by anyone or anything. They respect people and thoughts; they do follow ideologies and movements. But this, they do based on their terms.
And today’s youth have their own agenda. Injecting any agenda which is not in their psyche’ or in their set of priorities will not work. Many people like me travel 25 days in a month from cities to towns and from villages to tribal habitats. I notice the increased number of youth in general and also in our programmes! They come and listen to each and every word carefully. They meet later and ask many questions fearlessly. Then they respond in the rallies, on Facebook, emails, Twitter and other communication systems with such an informed zeal that the hope of ‘Hindu Ahead’ gets a new spark.
Interestingly, there is a small section among the older generation and in the media as well as in a socio-political arena that harps on a popular systematic campaign: “This Hindu ‘thing’, temples, ideology etc are all humbug, today’s youth don’t like it and believes that all such things are rotten and take India back to the 4th century. They want progress.” Youth is not a group that has descended on the earth from Mars! They are part of the psyche and this social psyche’ is an integral part of them; yes, they ask questions about everything and it is their strength. When satisfied with the replies, they are with the thought or a movement with their unequivocal support. It is my experience in Jammu, Bengal, Keral, Andhra, Kumbh, when Kavadias walk long with Kavads on the shoulders—they all are youth; while the Hindu Help Line youth helps Hindus in emergencies or when 15,000 people come together in peaceful protests in a jiffy against gang rape and murder of a minor SC girl in a small village near Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh.
Youth of today has great aspirations – in all fields of life they want to go ahead and they know that the nation that they belong to and the society that they live in too have to come along if they have to fulfill their dreams. They, therefore just don’t believe in hollow promises of any person or group or any governments. Youth today is in a hurry. Systems today – be it family, government, administration, education, law, health, economy are not equipped to handle their heightened aspirations. This makes today’s youth impatient and angry. Rightfully so. They KNOW that if all systems would have worked well and in time with integrity, they and even their parents would not have had any problems. Therefore today’s youth is boiling. Their anger bursts time to time in social movements, in their posts on FB, Twitter, Google Hang Outs etc. in the urban / semi-urban areas and through sudden spurt of fury in rural areas. Today’s youth is not a headless mob; it has a system.
How is Bharat fortunate to have such a bright, bubbling, socially aware and passionately active youth power? All transformations (Note: I am NOT saying ‘Changes’) have been the results of youth power. Transformation is positive. Today’s youth has positive mind. They want transformation (if possible, even metamorphosis!) in systems and mind-sets. Those who anyway plan to manipulate their vibrant minds for political, social, financial or other gains, will not succeed for long. Youth will see through. They don’t mind difference of opinion; but they will never tolerate being taken either for granted or for a ride. This is great for the organisations and ideologies who believe in nation building. Future of Bharat is here. Hindu ahead is the theme of it because today’s youth also knows that unless there is safety, there is no future for progress. It is not some fashion that ‘Hindu Ahead’, ‘Being Hindu’ branded T-Shirts are so popular among internet youth and also among rural youths! These are the signs of the larger Hindu Rashtra aspiration of the youth where they look for safety along with prosperity knowing well who they are, what they want and where they want to reach. Therefore, when Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan are tortured, killed, Hindu youth all over Bharat react. When two Indian Army men were beheaded, youth in Bharat took silent marches and governments should know that this type of silence has a big potential for peaceful or even chaotic revolution!
And, that’s why, the mantra should be “Do not preach; but facilitate the aspirations of today’s Youth.” It is not physical age that makes anyone youth; it is young, aware and active mind that is today’s youth. Youth today fortunately is not personality crazy or individual centric. They have their own minds which are well informed. They go by their logic and emotions; not by any flashy campaigns or force. No government now can bend or manipulate today’s youth. Agenda for youth today is ‘Safety and Prosperity’ with no permission to anyone to snatch anything which is rightfully theirs. In case of Bharat, it’s Hindu ahead – a global surge ahead!
(The writer is working president of VHP and can be contacted at www.facebook.com/togadia; [email protected])