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Special Content

volume-43, 26 January - 1 February, 2019

Republic and the Youth

Dr. Sanjay Kumar

Since we are growing older as a an independent country, the role of younger people in the nation-building is becoming more important. With over 60 per cent of our citizens  below the age of 35 and half of its population below 25 years of age, it is the youth of the country that will determine the direction of the nation. According to a Bloomberg News report, India would have the world's largest workforce by 2027, with about a billion people aged between 15-64. It is this population, who would have all the responsibility of driving our Nation both within and outside the country. While we are celebrating 70th Republic Day this year, youth of the country must acknowledge the fact that our ancestors fought bravely against the British Rulers and gifted us an independent country. Therefore, it is now the turn of young people to shape the country in a way that it fulfils their aspiration. It also firmly holds the principles of the Constitution of India. With over 1.3 billion population and uneven development of different regions in the country, the future India has tough battles ahead. First, they have to find space for their own aspirations. Secondly, they need to contribute towards the development of the country. To Gandhi, the youth are the agents of social change. They have the capacity to establish an ideal society based on the immortal principles of truth and nonviolence. The youth of today should fight against corruption both in personal and public life, develop a strong sense of volunteerism and practice tolerance in order to continue with the glory of the Republic of India.

In a journey to explore potential of own self and contributing to the development of the country, the youth of today should be following the path, which were lived and prescribed by the founding fathers of the freedom movement and the constitution. We all tend to refer to personalities from the past and the present in order to learn best practices for our own lives. Until now, our heroes have been the leaders of freedom movement or those who served the Nation after the independence as scientists, sportspersons, presidents, prime ministers and so on and so forth. The generation until now, have been playing a crucial role in the Nation-building. But in order to continue growing in a better shape, the youth of today have the responsibility to perform national duties and become the stars of tomorrow. For the youth of today, their time in History is now. It all depends on their contribution and self-less service to the nation. They must gain economically to sustain themselves and their family. However, there are ample opportunities in our country where they contribute to help others and to the society.

Those who are aiming to get into the government service, would definitely get immense opportunity to serve the nation in different ways. But that percentage would be very small. Different government agencies offer about 3% of jobs that are formal. So rest of the workforce in India is either engaged in formal private sector, which is estimated to be around another 3 % and rest 94% is part

of the large informal sector, which does not offer social security or regular tenure. As larger part of the youth will have to find their career in the informal sector, their own struggle to survive and simultaneously serve the nation through some voluntary engagement would always be a challenge.

Those who are going to join the government service should always adhere to deliver their duties with integrity and with a feeling that they are directly engaged in serving the nation. They must feel fortunate and privileged. They need to deal with the issue of corruption, which is so deep rooted in our system. It is the youth of the country, who come out of college as a non-corrupt and pious mind and have to stick to the simple lifestyle so that they could fulfil their desires within their 'legitimate income'. As a society, we tend to copy the lifestyles of westerners and hence we tend to forget the difference between 'need' and 'want'. It is the 'want' of different sorts that make us deviant and we start falling into the trap of manging resources by illegal means. The youth of today would have to understand that the corruption is one of the biggest enemies of our nation and it requires deep cleansing in order to strengthen our nation.

It is not fair to say that the corruption only exists in the public sector. The private sector or the businesses also adopt corrupt means to enter into unethical or out-of-turn deals to make quick money. Hence it is important for the younger people in our country to begin with self-discipline in managing their resources, which essentially involves living as per their earnings. There is a strong element of ethics needed in people especially among the youth so that they could not only stop corruption around them but also do not get engaged in any way. Youth working in both private and public sector would have a major role in wiping away this evil for the country.

The other most important contribution youth can make is by giving back to the society and the country at large. It is the sense of volunteerism which needs to be strengthened and continued. History of volunteerism can be traced back to ancient times but it became more prominent in India during pre-independence movement, which continued very strongly in post-independence phase as well. Volunteerism can be witnessed in different parts of the country during social and religious events and also during the natural disasters. However, there is no need to restrict our engagement to such occasions as we can constantly be engaged in nation building by contributing our time and energy. We should inculcate the sense of volunteerism among the youth at early stage at the school and college level so that each individual develops the sense of responsibility in the nation building process. There is still a large population, which lives below the poverty line and there is a huge population that needs to be educated well before they enter into the labour force. The combination of poverty and illiteracy or poor quality of education leave the majority of population behind those who are faring well on these two counts because of better resources and opportunities. There is a strong need to create level-playing field in many thematic areas in our country where young people can contribute a lot. Education can be one of such need where they can contribute their time to help others.

In our Preamble to the Constitution of India, as citizens, we solemnly resolved to constitute India into a country that would secure for all its citizens equality of status and of opportunity. We should not be leaving all these responsibilities to the government. Young people should find out creative ways to at least educate children around them who need supplementary support or go to government schools and colleges and run extra-curricular activities of their expertise and interest. Those who are well-educated or on right track of their career can choose to serve the nation by sparing few hours in a week. Whatever voluntary work we do, it teaches us many life lessons, which we usually do not get to learn in the class-room and professional settings. Today, many young people contribute a lot in the development of underprivileged people but the impact would be at a much higher scale if the call for volunteerism become a national movement among the youth. We cannot even imagine the ripple effect of such movement. Education is one indicative area but they can choose from wide range of themes such as sports, career counseling and guidance, environmental education, vocational training, gender values, teachings around ethics etc to name a few. One youth can easily impact the lives of another 5 youth to begin with and then the numbers can grow faster once they get into the process.

Another most important part of the Preamble, which the youth must adopt as their guiding principle of life is Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation. The beauty of Indian society is its diversity and that offers us  learning from diverse cultures and values that we have been able to develop and retain over the years. It is the duty of every citizen especially youth to be open and tolerant about the value system of different religious and cultural groups. This again help us build our own personality, which mirrors in every aspect of life. It can affect our growth as a person and a professional. We should all adhere to the principles, which the founding fathers of the constitution laid while drafting the constitution. Unity and integrity is essential for human progress and the nation-building. Any distortion deviates the energy of youth and it affects them the most as they are the ones who are going to bear the cost of all ill-effects. They are going to be the beneficiary of all the good efforts that they make today. 

We all are fortunate to be born in a country like India. The youth of today have immense energy and the potential to set things in a right perspective and in the right direction. What they need to develop and maintain are some ideals and values for themselves and for our beautiful motherland. They must develop some ideals that are higher than their own material accomplishments. That is the love for their country and for their brothers and sisters who are left behind on the ladder of development. Let us congratulate ourselves and pay deep gratitude towards the founding fathers of our Constitution on the occasion of 70th Republic Day. Let the youth of this country take us towards a better India.

(Dr. Sanjay Kumar is serving as the Director of The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University. E-mail ID: sanjay_kumar@harvard.edu) Views are personal.