Geetika Gupta & Awadhesh Pathak
THIS country, with its vast demographic dividend has to think in terms of youth empowerment. Youth has latent and unused physical power that leads to courage, sense of adventure and enthusiasm to explore the unknown. Limitations of thoughts and the swamp of hopelessness does not bog them down. They can search the un-trodden paths and craft a new society. The central idea is that we have to channelise this vast energy for constructive purposes so that they do not waste it in unproductive entertainment and wasteful activities or even worse, anti-social activities.
There is an urgent present need to put programmes and projects in place to cultivate constructive habits among youth and lead them to the best of their potential. History is replete with examples of heroic deeds of the youth and their contribution to nation building. In the freedom struggle of our own country youths have contributed significantly. Now that we are a developed nation and want to forge ahead at a global level, predominance of youth population is an opportunity and challenge. If we want our nation to become strong and grow then we must use our youth effectively. With seemingly increase in prosperity and expansion of commercial media, there are many temptations to get entrapped in deviant activities which will be harmful not only for them but also for nation. We have worked with youth of hundreds of universities of the country and observed the immenseness of hopes in them. The experiences are encouraging and enriching. The voluntary spirit of youth and their eagerness to take responsibility has encouraged us to take this plunge in the form of multiple youth conferences during previous years.
Youth leadership is needed for bringing revolution in nations. Are we ready for the change and handing over the leadership to youth? Have we created the ground for them to emerge? Do we have enough organisations to nurture the youth for the challenging role they have to play in the nation and the world? The need is to discuss the role education has to play in the lives of youth. Education for passing examinations, gaining degrees, entering into lofty jobs is the order of the day. Commercial outfits have mushroomed all-around important urban and semi urban landscapes with impressive buildings to claim their share in the ever growing education market. What kind of grooming, values, knowledge and skills can be expected from them? We need to discuss what do the youths feel about the process of education.
There are millions of not so lucky youths who are deprived of formal education and lead unproductive lives in the villages being labelled as unemployed, hooligans and the like, for no fault of their own. The hiatus between the prosperous educated youth and deprived rural counterparts is glaring. This is a great moral crisis to work with. In a country of many contradictions and challenges where there are shining metros and darker hinterlands, leadership in information technology and lack of basic amenities for a majority of inhabitants, should this powerful youth force sit idle and isolated at the mercy of powers that be or should we infuse the power in them to come out and play the role they should? The need is to plan strategies for youth development. Problems of our economy like corruption, political scams, poverty, unemployment, changing climate, inflation, etc. call for immediate attack and youth conviction has to tackle these very important issues. How can we inculcate the consciousness and courage among
youth to take the cudgels in their hands?
An innovative case study: Vivekanand Swadhyay Mandal
Youth power can do wonders if channelised in the right direction. Hence, the idea in Vivekanand Swadhyay Mandal, popularly known as VSM is to catch them young. VSM realises that there are certain aspirations and tendencies of youth. They are career oriented. They believe more in practical application rather than theoretical knowledge. They are sensitive to the inner virtues and need a platform to manifest their inherent skills and abilities.
The vision behind VSM approach is that the youth have inherent excellence which requires manifestation through proper environment or consciousness. To achieve this vision, a unique model based on valuing and promoting growth and learning, collaboration, inclusivity, diversity, openness, creativity, flexibility, innovation, and harmony has been standardized. VSM has the mission of shaping the lives of young people to make them socially dedicated, nationally proud, spiritually active and professionally sharp.
Actual need of the hour Knowledge, not information:
In today’s world, the only ambition of educated youth is to earn more and more money. Students join premier institutes to get a ‘stamp’ and a highly marketable degree and this becomes sheer goal of their lives. Even while earning, they are not satisfied; they earn more degrees and switch the job to earn more money. This vicious cycle continues and they keep on changing the tracks even without knowing which track is meant for them or rather they are made for which track.
The question arises: how to differentiate between knowledge and information? The answer is simple: that which gives you contentment, peace and vision, is knowledge and that which makes you effervescent and feeling like showing off, and that one often uses to prove one’s supremacy, is information.
Actions, not theories:
The biggest irony of human life is that we have lots of information, we show that off on many occasions, and we don’t understand that information ourselves, be it religious, spiritual, ethical or societal.
It is not merely the words from a book, but the resulting actions, taken up by people who have assimilated that information, that create a ripple effect in society.
What can I do? I am alone and I have many responsibilities to take care of. A general reaction answered beautifully answered by Vivekananda, “Have faith that you are all, my brave lads, born to do great things? Let not the barks of puppies frighten you — no, not even the thunderbolts of heaven — but stand up and work!”. We have to believe that we are born to do great things and not just to earn money and with this we need to undertake a small beginning.
Doing something, not becoming someone:
Becoming is the disease and society is suffering with this disease now-a-days. Everybody wants to become someone but not to do something; rather they have no idea “what for?”
Most of the time, we do something to become someone. We study, to become an engineer, doctor or something else. Swami Vivekananda emphasized this dissociation from becoming and emphasized on doing. He said “He works best who works without any motive, neither for money, nor for fame, nor for anything else; and when a man can do that, he will be Buddha, and out of him will come the power to work in such a manner as will transform the world”.
Religions, not rituals:
We have become sceptical of religion and its motives, and this scepticism is not unfounded. Violence and discrimination in name of religion have begot thinking that religions should be avoided completely when discussing something of human welfare. The onus of such thought process can be attributed to many but primarily to so called religious representatives, along with utter un-scientific and blindfolded approach of common people.
Religion is so complex and wide, that a ritualistic person can’t explain and make people imbibe it. Moreover, rarely few of them might have enough understanding and assimilation of religion to make positive changes in lives of others. This knowledge should not remain in religious scriptures but should be brought to text books and taught as a regular subject as only well educated and broad-minded professors and educators can make students understand religion.
Ending with the words of Swami Vivekananda, “My whole ambition in life is to set in motion, a machinery which will bring noble ideas to the door of everybody, and then let men and women settle their own fate. Let them know what our forefathers as well as other nations have thought on the most momentous questions of life. Let them see especially what others are doing now, and then decide. We are to put the chemicals together; the crystallisation will be done by nature according to her laws. Work hard, be steady, and have faith in the Lord. Set to work, Keep the motto before you.”
(The authors are engineers and young professionals concerned for youth mobilisation. They are active leaders of a youth movement of young professionals called Vivekanand Swadhyay Mandal.)