The history of India dates back to more than 2,500 years before the emergence of the Indus Valley civilization. A land of opportunities during the ancient world; even after more than 72 years of Independence, we are the youngest, biggest and the strongest democracy in the world.
We are a nation of more than 600 million youngsters with more than 600 million aspirations. India, in that sense, is not just a land of opportunities but also a land of dreams. Today, I won’t talk about myself but I will be talking about the youth as a whole. It has been established that India has the largest youth population in the world, so we can safely say, that India is the youngest country with the oldest civilization. The power of youth is one of the most influential, powerful and useful weapons we have today and they are, without a doubt, energized. Before I start, I would like to add that this chapter might not answer your questions about the future of India, but it will certainly give you food for thought.
Dr.Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, our former President, laid great emphasis on youth empowerment. So, as a member of the youth community, I feel the most basic and the most fundamental principle of youth empowerment is ‘dreaming’. Be it a student who is sitting under a lamp post or a student going to school, everyone has the right to dream and pursue whatever he or she wants to, without undue stress about potential hassles and to take their own decisions, subject to their choice on whether or not to pay to heed to parental advice. To dream is the birthright of every young man and woman, but I am not talking about the dream we see while we are asleep, but the one that doesn’t let you sleep.
It is high time now to take decisions for the betterment of our youth, and encourage them to follow their own path, who knows, left to their own devices they may make miracles. I personally know many living wonders like Akash Manoj, a thirteen-year-old boy from Bangalore, who has developed a technology to detect a silent heart attack. There are many more such talented young people in our cities and villages. We have the resources required but that is not enough. Let’s use a principle of economics to illustrate this point. In the production possibility curve, when the resources are underutilized, the economy is unable to perform at its peak and the same goes with us if this country is considered as an economy and its youth as an important resource.
Here, I am not criticizing anyone, but we do lack societal support. Many of us leave our passion behind to pursue what our parents dreamed of, during their days, but what I believe is that a passionate dancer is happier and more successful than a stressed engineer.
In a society like India, where currently there are over millions of youth, the real change makers are the youngsters. Whether we enter politics or take up corporate jobs, the passion for the development of our nation won’t fade away. Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam always believed that the youth are more unbiased than others when it comes to change, but the need of the hour is upon the country to give us the required attention. Another special feature of the young generation is their uniqueness.
Today, when we are facing many challenges in terms of economy, politics, environment or whatever it may be, the youth population might prove to be a savior. Their scope of thinking is vast enough to tackle many challenges for the nation. In school, whenever two friends sit together and talk about politics or a challenge that India might be facing, they come up with many ideas that may be illogical, sometimes, but most of the time, they are unique and reflect a higher level of wisdom, even at an early stage of life.
I am fully satisfied that today, I can see many youngsters interested in nation building, and moreover, they are also interested in politics and writing, and they are open to new ideas which show their hunger for gaining knowledge and wisdom. So, the youth of today are eager to learn, perform and respond. To perform is to implement whatever you have learned, and that means practicality. So, there are many skills we have, but we need you to support us at ground level, rather than merely talking about youth empowerment.
Many of us have high aspirations in life and dreams to fulfill, which is necessary for us as youngsters. But we face many problems in achieving those dreams.
One of the most basic requirements is education; I believe education is one thing, but talent too, plays an important role. Many of the youngsters are still deprived of proper education and knowledge. Education should be imparted to improve their talents and the basic aim of education should be overall development and spreading knowledge, developing curiosity amongst the young minds and it must not be bookish In our society, education is examination and marks-centric, and not skill and knowledge-centric.
Unemployment is much higher than the literacy rate, hence, it is impossible to employ each and every youth of this nation. I believe youth should become job creators, rather than job seekers. I am very hopeful about entrepreneurship in India, the young population is ambitious and energized and they are ready to take up the challenge. In the recent past, we have seen some new entrepreneurs coming up with unique ideas.
The third problem is something that most of us face. Whether it is societal, peer or family pressure, it plays an important role in decreasing the efficiency of a youngster. It is like a burden we have to carry all the time. Most of the youth are forced at an early age, in the tenth grade to be more specific, to study Science and Commerce. I have seen this tendency in some parents, that boys are made to become engineers and girls are made to become doctors. For some parents, commerce and humanities are less important and those who are studying that are useless, uneducated and considered failures. I was a student of Humanities and the first one from my family to study History and Political Science. I believe a student must know his/her abilities and talents and likewise, they must take a decision and not get their parents involved. I have seen students suffering after taking Science, and students enjoying after taking any of the other streams, hence, whether you are happy and successful is basically based on your choice.
It can be considered a side-effect of pressure. Coping with growing aspirations of family, friends, and society often lead an innocent child into a habit of taking drugs. But the question is how do we fight these challenges? Because we all are aware of them and just acknowledging them is not enough. We have to take some steps toward overcoming them. There must be an upgrade in the education system of India. Once, India was the epicenter of knowledge foreign travelers would come to Nalanda, seeking knowledge. There should be a shift from books to practical applications. I see a small change happening and the government is doing its bit. Today, we lack practical knowledge and the ability to use our theoretical knowledge in the practical sense. There are many famous academicians who are working to improve this. We must try to understand that marks are just a part of academics and the major focus must be on acquiring knowledge and talent. This would lead to an increase in students’ interest and they would start exploring new career avenues. Creative businesses must be encouraged and the spirit of entrepreneurship must be developed.
As I made a reference to aspirations earlier, most of our aspirations are forced to get buried under regret because of societal and family pressure. The rat race that includes comparison and evaluation is dangerous for good quality of education and for the personality of youngsters. We cannot compare two individuals because we all are unique.
An individual, A, might be good at painting while B might be good at mathematics. What is important here is that youth empowerment demands personality development for which we have to reduce this pressure and must allow our children to take their own decisions with their parents’ guidance. This reduction of pressure might lead to a decrease in the consumption of drugs.
India possesses a lot of potential which might change the future of this world as the youth would one day lead; and having the largest population of youth, India’s contribution to this new world would surely increase by a great percentage if this section of the population of India is nurtured the right way.