It is a long-held belief that the Indian youth – those enthusiastic, driven creatures – will one day be the country’s salvation. That they, like prophets and messiahs of old, will sometime in the future trigger a transformation of such massive proportions that the country will emerge from the aftermath like a butterfly from its cocoon, finally ready to stake its claim as a global superpower. Only, there is no such dramatic metamorphosis in sight. For the better part of the last two decades, the Indian youth have not lived up to the lofty goals set before them. Is the blame of this failing, then, entirely on their shoulders?
While it may simply be more convenient to go with this assumption, the truth is not so simple. For a clearer understanding of the kind of impact the youth can make in their chosen domain, consider the start-up ecosystem of the country. Driven almost entirely by the nation’s young population, Indian start-ups today have changed the way businesses, industries and consumers operate and interact with one another. From high fashion to mundane everyday tasks, the Indian youth have, by leveraging the power of digital technology, pretty revolutionised almost every sector in the economy today. So why has this impact failed to materialise in other domains, especially those that relate directly to the society such as politics and bureaucracy?
The biggest cause for this failure to deliver is a lack of knowledge. The Indian youth have failed, yes, simply by the virtue of not knowing exactly what it is that is expected of them. The abrupt rise and the equally sudden, ignominious end of the Great Indian Freedom Crusade of 2011 was a prime example. Since the leaders of this movement had no strategy in place to optimally harness the explosive potential that its young participants offered, their indomitable will ended up losing potency in the absence of proper guidance.
The other factor that is keeping the youth from participating in politics, bureaucracy and social causes is a catch-22 situation; the lack of adequate monetary incentives. The financial rewards associated with being society’s white knight are not proportional to the magnitude of either the task or the risk it entails. A person can make a lot of money when involved with these sectors, sure enough, but the channels employed to do so fall on the wrong side of the legal line, something any professional wanting to make a positive contribution to the society cannot afford to be associated with. Such an impossible situation often drives these youngsters towards the corporate setup, where they can make reap financial dividends that fairly reflect their skill and hard work.
To bring a change to the present scenario will require some thought. Setting up of mentoring schools, where the veterans from various social service departments can come and share their experiences with the upcoming generation, could be one measure in the direction. This step might also help in reduce the negative effect of incumbency, and foster a more vibrant and dynamic learning environment that can educate and motivate the youth. The financial aspect is also improving; adequate monetary rewards are now being worked into place to attract the younger talent pool to the politico-social landscape.
Having said that, however, even the youth need to be more willing to embrace their responsibility to forge India into a global powerhouse. There are now several NGOs and social groups which provide a chance to be associated with a social cause on a part-time basis, while social entrepreneurship, which requires identifying social challenges and turning them into viable business opportunities, is also on the rise. Social media is also playing a major role in spreading awareness and information through a digital medium, aiding the overall reconstruction effort of India in no small measure.
The apparatus for change and innovation is slowly and steadily being developed. Only one question remains to be answered – will the Indian youth rise up to the challenge this time? The early signs have been extremely encouraging; here’s to hoping for its continued success!