The Status Of Volunteerism Among Indian Youth

Posted on January 25, 2012 in Volunteerism

By Simrat Ahluwalia:

The 21st century youth might just be regarded as the ‘busiest’ people in comparison to the previous generations. From academics to extracurricular and sports to gadgets, they make the rat-race look competitive with every single day that passes by. In the hustle of life where they have friends to meet, teachers to listen to, parents to love, places to travel, sports to play and a career to think about; one might feel they have no time in the world to spare.

Volunteerism or tendering ones skills and time for altruism, usually for free, may seem to be a far fetched activity on their agenda. Although there aren’t sweeping figures which will make us believe that the allegation isn’t true, but the passing years have shown an overall increase in the awareness and participation of the youth in the act of volunteering.

From teaching unprivileged students to campaigns – they are ready to do it all. Whether they do it out of social-good interests or just to pass time is a question, which has mixed answers. But on posing the same question to a sample of the youth, I have found that there is great readiness to work for social causes.

Yamini, a student of Hindu College worked for a month with an NGO named Aarohi based in the central Himalayan region. The NGO runs a school for kids of the villages of Kumaon, Uttarakhand and basically helps students up to grade 7 to learn English through interactive methodologies. She says, “Working with little children from different backgrounds living a small village in the mountains, was more than just a wonderful experience. I was given an opportunity to be with so many children, who were full of energy and a very genuine and endearing urge to learn. It felt like I was putting my knowledge to something much bigger, and something that could help so many people.”

Another set of testimonials by a group of college students who volunteer almost regularly for medical camps in unprivileged areas mention that the positive feeling one gets on rendering selfless help is extremely overwhelming. Aakriti Dhawan, one of the volunteers at the camp organized by Delhi University’s NGO Aarohi, says, “everyone should work for people in need because it does not take more than a few hours of one’s day. The camp expects one to just pitch in once a month and so is extremely flexible.”

Adding on to the positives is Pavit Dhillon who volunteers as a creative writer for Aramaan Foundation. His work was to provide knowledge to the people through articles and blogs as that is one way to change their Dis-ability into Liv-ibility! Though he took it up as it was a necessity from college, he says, “Everyone should chip in for a good cause.”

In criticism, a student whose identity has been kept secret (on request) expressed that a social service set-up in her college is just namesake and is joined by a bunch of students dying for a mere certificate. She pointed out that in many institutions voluntary work set-ups face lack of direction and focus.

Though awareness towards volunteer work has increased many folds, students face lack of worthwhile opportunities, time constraints and also hold themselves back due to lack of remuneration in most cases. Living out of pocket money, no one would mind earning extra bucks! This is a strong reason that keeps a major chunk of the youth from volunteering.

In light of the negatives proclaimed, there is a definite lack of action even though volunteerism among the youth has gained popularity. People need to forget monetary and materialistic (i.e. certificates) interests for a while and work for something they believe in or are moved by. Time constraint is something everybody faces, but if one genuinely feels for a cause, he/she will find time in one way or another. If youngsters give a little of their time and effort into volunteering they are promised a revitalized mind, improvement in skills and a sense of satisfaction from within.

Do you think stipends and remunerations are a necessary part of the package when volunteering one’s time and skills for a good cause? Is there a cause that you would volunteer for without a stipend or remuneration?

Author Bio: This article is written by Simrat Ahluwalia, a Social Media intern with Halabol, a platform launching on Republic Day to raise awareness towards social issues and causes and connect individuals with non profits and corporate organizations in a fun and socially pro-active way.