I had the opportunity of sharing some thoughts at the Youth Development Conference organized by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports at Delhi on December 19th, 2016. Transcript of the speech is as follows:
I am representing Vision India Foundation, a nation-building movement which engages youth in the field of public policy and governance. From our experiences of interacting with the youth over more than two years, I wish to present four following points:
- Mentorship: A considerable section of youth is willing to devote their lives for a purpose. They are looking for opportunities and a direction of how can they contribute to the society and the nation. If they get appropriate mentorship, they would be able to live such a life with perseverance. For mentorship, it is important to strengthen the existing systems of education such as schools and universities, and make mentorship a central part of the learning process. Here we could learn from the gurukul system as the Minister pointed out, where mentorship was at the core of education and everything else revolved around it. This is unlike today, where technical learning is at the core and mentorship is at the periphery.
- Career Opportunities: It is observed that the number of young Indians ready to devote their lives for the country irrespective of what they face in the future is a considerable number. However, it is still small. If given a clear career path where a person is confident of sustenance, the number of people wanting to pursue a social cause grows manifold. To be able to cater to this section, we need to design appropriate opportunities which are attractive enough as a career too.
- A National Vision: Dr Kalam talked about having a 2nd vision for India. We have not had a common national vision since the country got independence. Those days, everyone was working for independence. What is it that unites and motivates us now? There is a need for 2nd national vision. Once the youth have appropriate mentorship and can see a career trajectory, the next important factor for change is a vision. Can we provide a national vision which is aspirational enough to attract youth and achievable enough to not scare them away?
- The Future of Age: It is true that India’s biggest strength is its demographic dividend – a large young population. But that is India of today. 50 years later, we will be an old population. Unemployment and a nuclear family life will make it difficult for people to live a comfortable and productive life. Can the ministry coordinate with other ministries to plan out this transition and prepare the society, particularly the youth for this transition? The youth of today will be the frontier curve of this transition. Can we plan a smooth transition from a young and developing country to an old and probably developed one?