By Lata Jha:
Tradition binds you, spirit sets you free. In a society where norms matter tremendously, The Ocean in a Drop is a burst of questioning spirit. It introduces us to a world, possibly within ourselves, of questions, of great introspection, of analysis, of reasoning. Penned together by Ashraf Patel, Meenu Venkateswaran, Kamini Prakash and Arjun Shekhar in collaboration with Commutiny and Oxfam India, the book encourages you to find a lot of answers for yourself.
The authors, first and foremost, introduce to us the key concept of the 5th Space. Having always been confined to the tried and tested boundaries of family, friends, work and leisure, you realise that the 5th space encourages you to think beyond, learn, do and be more. The focus is on active youth citizenship, where people like us can give back to the society. This of course is also linked to the development of the self through understanding, creating meaningful relationships and being able to impact society.
Through illustrations and anecdotes, they tell us important truisms. Many of these are quite the need of the hour. For instance, there is the description of the archaic concept of the classroom. And the fact that parents should look beyond these conventions and also encourage their children to find their own voice away from these spaces.
Then there is the call for youth leadership. Only 6.3% of the Lok Sabha today is composed of people between the ages of 25 and 40, whereas 50% of our population belongs to that age category. Somewhere in scoffing at people who don’t understand the needs and concerns of our generation, we’ve forgotten our own responsibilities towards the nation. We don’t need to literally take to active politics to make a difference, there is a lot we can do through civil society, by taking a stand on issues that bother us, by resisting and protesting.
A very interesting part of the book is the description of some major youth organisations across the country. These are inspirational in their working and goals, and a must read for the youth who hope to make their voice and presence count.
The book ends with some remarkably detailed, concise and concrete points. The last chapter lists actual design principles to create a dynamic 5th space in our lives. It makes you feel like you can do it, these are simple long term goals you just need to set for yourself.
The Ocean in a Drop, is quite literally a drop in the ocean of efforts a lot of us are making towards awakening the youth and helping them feel empowered. Let’s just hope it counts.