U.S. And India: The Role Of Youth In Strengthening Civil Society

Posted on July 9, 2012 in Specials

By Agam Dhingra:

Youth is not a time of life – it is a state of mind. It is temper of will; a quality of imagination; vigour of emotions…a predominance of courage over timidity, of appetite over a life of ease.

In today’s times, in the world filled with misery and despair, youth is like a silver lining of a cloud. Full of hope, energy and willingness to take up challenges make the youth a trustee of nation’s prosperity.

It is that phase of life when the external environment plays a significant role in shaping and grooming responsible citizens capable of heralding a change. At a time, when most regions of the world are getting increasingly interconnected, youth can play a pivotal role as messenger of peace or harbinger of ideas between nations. Also, it is not an unknown fact that youth is characterised by enthusiasm, vigour and energy which when tapped in an apt manner can be of immense benefit to one and all.

The U.S.A and India share a rich cultural, political, social and economic past. There have been numerous instances in both the nations, wherein the youth have been instrumental in strengthening the essence of democracy by associating them with the civil society. Occupy Wall Street in America and Anna Hazare’s crusade against corruption in India is some prominent instances which have seen active youth participation. Both America and India are vast countries with many communities. The 1968 Olympics held at Mexico City were an important landmark in the history of the Civil rights Movement in the United States. The acts of Tommie Smith, John Carlos (both African-Americans) and Peter Norman (Australian) are symbolic of the need to rise above national and cultural prejudices for the betterment of the society. Though India too is witness to many such events, the National Youth Policy 2003 has underscored the role of India’s youth in political decision-making, and has argued for greater representation of youth in appropriate bodies as well as more extensive youth participation in the design and implementation of programmes.

Education, thus assumes a role of great significance in shaping minds – inculcating values and instilling a sense of discrimination as youth are an impressionable lot. It is often said that the foundations of a greater tomorrow are laid in one’s youth. History too is proof that many great inventions have seen the light of the day in one’s youth. Education is thus needed to harness and channelize one’s untapped potential for the development of society.

Civil society refers to the elements that make up a democratic society such as freedom of speech, an independent judiciary, etc. It represents a major section of society and works for its upliftment by taking up issues aimed at creating moral legacies4 that last a lifetime. In fact, no society, be it America, India or any other country, can ensure peace and stability without allowing greater role to the civil society. When the youth take part in the functioning of the civil society, it leads to decision-making based on prudence. Also, enlightened youth are capable to effectively solve problems at the root-cause level itself.

The United States of America, a superpower and India, an Asian behemoth can act as catalysts in strengthening the civil society by mobilising today’s youth to take up greater responsibilities. By organising conferences, holding dialogues and coordinating on matters concerning youth, the two nations can ensure that mankind’s future rests in safe hands.

In the words of Orison Swett Smarden, ‘Every youth owes it to himself and to the world to make the most possible out of the stuff that is in him’. At a time, when both America and India are more dependent on each than ever before, both the countries must work simultaneously to realise its true worth.

Last but not the least, as Jose Rizal beautifully states – The youth is the hope of our future.