Activating Youth Volunteerism

Posted on January 11, 2010 in Entrepreneurship

Karuna Ahuja:

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream, a dream you dream together is reality.”
–John Lennon

Over the years, there has been a resurgence in youth activism in India and all across the country, young people, equipped with a sense of unprecedented communications know-how and an instinct to protect, are fighting to bring about social ‘change’. There has been an increase in number of youth-led organisations with the mission to empower youth and adults as agents of individual, institutional, and social change. These groups are bringing authentic youth voice into the dialogue about promoting their communities and are mobilizing the energy of urban youth to create meaningful change.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
–Margaret Mead

From giving a platform to voice their opinions to giving an opportunity to get a first- hand experience of the problems faced by the country at grassroots level, these organizations are designed to build principled leadership, empower visionaries, inspire collective action, and unite India towards a common vision for the nation by productively engaging Indians around the world with the development of the country that defines their identity.

The Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN), an initiative which aimed at creating awareness about the role of India in the recently concluded COP15 to how it should deal with ‘domestic issues of climate justice and adaptation’, provided a platform to connect people across the country and inspire the next generation climate change leaders and mobilize them into collective action. Abhishek Nayak, who recently attended the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit last December says, ”In just a year of existence IYCN has been highly successful in creating awareness about climate change in India. From organizing music concerts to protests in Copenhagen, IYCN finds its leaders in all corners of the country and empowers them.”About his takeaways he has to say,” …(it) gave me an opportunity to be a part of the citizen movement for COP15 and raise my voice as an Indian youth on an international stage”

Another unique initiative which aims at channelizing the potential of youth in the bringing about a social change is Grassroutes. It is a fellowship program which gives an opportunity to young enthusiastic people to travel across the country, sensitising them with the grassroots problems faced by our nation, meet the change-makers and also to be one. With the motto “Discover.Inspire.Challenge.Change”, the founding members of this program believe that road trips are always about discovering new things. Grassroutes experience is all about discovering the change maker within you. The fellows get a closer look at reality, discover people, places, problems, deliberate solutions, contribute to social change. Their stories are then captured on camera. After the road trip, the fellows use social media to share their experiences, spread awareness and engage a bigger community in a dialog around social issues.

Nakul Jamadagani, a recent college pass-out and a young entrepreneur who took a Grassroutes trip to Andhra Pradesh in 2008 to look into the woes of Pochampalli saree weaver and their near extinct art, talks about his experience, ”Getting introduced to something so different as Grassroutes, when I am at crossroads to decide what to do in life after college … has taught me to look at things with a whole new perspective. It was my first, in the social development sector and it has made me want more!”. He also adds saying, ”..(the experience) has exposed me to the social development sector, its work, impact and its necessity! It has made me aware of issue concerning the weavers in Pochampally, AP and how I could help the cause instead of staying ignorant about it and enjoying the perks of being bit more privileged.”

With such innovative ideas gaining a lot of popularity and succeeding in bringing about a change in perspective and thinking of young blood in the country, youth activism is bound to reach greater heights and lead to innovation and sustainable development in various sectors.

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The writer is a correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz and also a student at BITS Pilani.


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