Nothing is more inspiring for the youth at moment than this year’s theme of International Youth Day as far as their pivotal role in building a safe and secure world is concerned. It is on 12th August that the UN, all national governments, public institutions, NGOs and people in general across the globe will be pledging together to strengthen the hands of young persons towards the realisation of the objective, ‘Youth Engagement for Global Action’ for attaining a sustainable humane society.
The population in the 15-24 age group, known as youth in the parlance of UN, stands out as the most promising future-productive segment of world demographics. As COVID monster is still jeopardising the world with infections, casualties, fears and anxieties, the lives of people have almost become suspended for want of concrete cure and reliable vaccine. It is in the instant circumstances that the youth’s active participation and positive contribution have become the need of hour not only to promote universal peace and brotherhood amidst the current cross border tensions in the subcontinent and Cold War-like strained relations between capitalist America and communist China but also to safeguard the planet from the accelerating climate change as well as the ongoing pandemic crisis.
As we are aware, the youth can prove their mettle unfailingly, if they are provided with opportunities to pursue their well-intended goals. Truly, the youth of the 21st century i.e. Generation Z or millennials, have distinct values juxtaposed to that of earlier generations. They have new definitions for every challenge in the society with a much broader perspective in the global context. Technology has changed its perception more than ever. Their vision, however, needs to be a rightly introspected agenda so that they would become meaningful and indispensable for the good of fellow human beings.
But the real picture of the state of youth affairs is not as bright as it is generally imagined. For example, India is referred to as the most youthful nation because it tops the global list with the largest young population. A massive number means that it is a gigantic task to support them in their requirements such as education, employment, entrepreneurship etc. Failure to meet their demands could lead to unsavoury socioeconomic and political repercussions. Unfortunately, a major chunk of youth population don’t seem to be as commanding as they ought to be. This is due to more than one causative factors. A survey of 2016, jointly conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Lokniti about the Indian youth’s attitudes, anxieties and aspirations; pointed out that their thoughts and views are still traditional. This is exactly opposite to what was said by the Nobel literature laureate Octavio Paz, who asserted that modernisation begins by being a critique of the past. Another survey of 2017, commissioned by an NGO called Pratham, underlines that a significant number of teenagers suffer from lack of minimum awareness in the present era of a knowledge economy. Most of the youth were also found faring badly on social relations front. Various studies showed that they are addicted to the virtual world and are conditioned to communicate by text rather than on the phone or face-to-face interaction. Steve Jobs equated creativity with social connectivity and as a result, the youth are not likely to exhibit creative talent to the extent it has to be.
Therefore, the basic onus on society is to groom the youth properly so as to reap the intended outcomes. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leo Esaki reportedly indicated that the average age of Nobel laureates at which their critical inventions and discoveries were made is 32 years, though their awards were announced much later. He felt that the age of 20 to 30 is the span of peak creativity. This revelation makes it highly significant to stimulate the young brains with a view to moulding them into prospective innovators and wealth creators. Otherwise, any mishandling or underestimation will lead to irreparable damage. One extreme case of such an example was that of Hitler’s tyrannical socialisation approach during WW-2, owing to which the German youth were inculcated with hate and prejudice in the guise of ‘Aryan Supremacy’. The aftermath was an apocalyptic tragedy.
Hence, the International Youth Day timely reminds the world of urgency and primacy to shape the young people righteously in social, economic and political life processes. History is a witness to the testimony that the youth can invariably make things happen if they are given space to excel. Early and altruistic investments in them will help result in high returns in terms of their constructive abilities and true potential. Vesting legitimate responsibilities will metamorphose them into leaders of not just tomorrow but of today. It is in this context that the former UN Secretary-General and Nobel peace prize winner Kofi Annan exhorted, “Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace”. This is the most appropriate message on the occasion of International Youth Day, which the youth will have to imbibe as guiding principle in the pursuit of their dreams and ambitions.
(Article by Former DG (Cyber Crimes) MP, B Maria Kumar)