Today, Youth Ki Awaaz turns 13. Officially a teenager, it is something I started when I was in my teens. And what a journey we have had together. The teenage angst and growing pains notwithstanding!
The last year was particularly hard for all of us. And we’re all just trying to get back on the horse. While I may have not felt it at the time, the situation gave me pause to think about where we’ve come and where we are headed. To the friends, partners and, most importantly, the YKA users, here are our 4 takeaways and questions for what will dictate our next 12 months. As learnings gathered from you, I share them as raw and authentically as I can:
1. Social media for social good: At the start of 2011, social media was declared as one of the largest platforms that would enable social good in the next decade. And while it did, to a large extent, it also amplified two of the biggest global challenges we’re facing today – polarisation and disinformation.
Large social media companies, at their very core, failed to reward good behaviour and instead built algorithms that rewarded bad behaviour, amplifying the loudest voices – not necessarily the most authentic ones. And now there’s an entire generation born into this form of social media that is dictating access to information for them to a large extent. Authentic voices still need and deserve a space to be heard. What does this mean for YKA – a platform committed to amplifying authentic voices that truly matter? What will the future of such conversations look like? How do we have these dialogues, safely, actually listening to one another?
2. From speaking up to connecting meaningfully, locally, authentically. GenZ and Gen Alpha have access to tons of new platforms that have strongly emerged at a time when distrust in big tech has also grown. Platforms for people to speak up have also evolved tremendously. Speaking up is now possible everywhere and not just on YKA.
So, how does YKA look at it? What do you do next once you’ve spoken up? Who do you reach out to and how do you connect with those that you need to? Does speaking up now need to translate into key problem-solving skills and abilities? At a time like this, the very definition of speaking up needs to be rethought and must emerge as a way for people to connect with like-minded people and support local community leaders/next-generation leaders more meaningfully. Should YKA pave the way for that? Can we reimagine the impact of speaking up? What will it be for the community leaders from tier 2 and tier 3 cities on YKA? From speaking up as the first act of activating your agency, what should the next 2-3 steps be till you are running and changing the game!
3. Leaders creating more leaders: Formal structures are failing and young people know this. Be it education, or the way we’ve traditionally thought of careers, young people are questioning the very basis of a lot of these structures. With the YKA Action Network, we clearly realised that we have to invest actively in next-gen leadership, and their own ability to enable and create many more leaders. For YKA, is the next big push towards peer leadership?
4. Evolution of the platform: Over the last 13 years, YKA catered to over 100K writers and changemakers. Leaders have emerged from within the YKA community. How do we take it and unleash the leadership of the next 1 billion? Locally and globally? What do the next 3-4 months look like? Who do we need to support, guide and join this movement with us?
I don’t have all the answers, but I am hoping to seek them out. Over the last many months, I’ve been speaking with phenomenal leaders, community members and ground-up voices from across the globe to understand how they think of some of these problems. And now I want to take this to everyone out there who’s been a part of YKA in some way or the other. How do we solve for the next billion?
Let’s start our 14th year with this question, and build this together over the next 12 months.
To the entire community of YKA – a very happy 13 to all of you!