Can we be a strong Youngistan?

One day a thought struck me: what would happen if we really had magic like in Harry Potter books? Harry’s magic tricks though seemingly unreal, fascinate us all the time. Do we need such magic to change the ugly face of our nation? Can’t young people like us take up the cudgels to make our beloved country an India of our dreams? A huge chunk of our country’s population is young and vibrant. So, can we be a strong Youngistan?

One of the greatest ills India suffers from is lack of education. Although five years ago Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was launched by the government to spread education, we are yet to see the day when each and every child learns the alphabet and can read and write. When street children were asked what they thought was the single most important way their lives could change they said, “Education of course! With education you can earn respect, you gain knowledge and you build your life.”

What can we, as youngsters, do to change this scenario, when, we go to school but thousands of other children work under most inhuman conditions? We can be vigilant and inform the authorities concerned. We can coax our parents and neighbors into not employing young children as household help. We can work as volunteers with NGOs to remove illiteracy in rural areas. They need young blood to take up their summer projects in villages. Whatever knowledge we have about health, sanitation and hygiene, we can spread through these projects.

India has a tradition of assimilating different cultures. The various religious traditions and communities have lived together in peace barring a few exceptional circumstances. We, as youngsters, can break the barriers of caste, creed and religion and follow the religion of humanity. This will free our minds and we can move towards common goal of world peace. If we decide to celebrate the various festivals of each religion together it would certainly help our country to get rid of social barriers. We can start a youngsters’ congress where youngsters from every corner of India can come together and enjoy each other’s folk art, music and dance. Student’s organizations like NOSPLAN can act as significant platforms for exchange of ideas and cultures between youngsters of all hues and colors.

Recently I worked as a volunteer in a center for street children in a railway station where we could teach children to read and write in just one month. Such efforts always bring hope and joy. If we have the will, our little flame can spread like fire and awaken the light of knowledge.

My heart goes out to all those poor and hungry people of my country who do not get 2 square meals a day. In areas like Melghat, children suffer from malnutrition. With forest wealth denuding and no other means of livelihood, such tribal people are victims of poverty. The government schemes for provisions of nutritious food are many but the process is slow and is caught up in the shackles of corruption. What these hungry people need is not just cereals but a means of livelihood. Here too, the drives for education and awareness about their right of food and health need to be undertaken on a large scale. Instead of giving rations through government offices, these poor people need to be given these directly by trucks from the Food Corporation of India.

Not only do babies die of malnutrition but thousands of new born girls die because their parents kill them either before they are born or after. In India, even in this 21st century, raising a girl child is considered a burden. In states like Haryana and Rajasthan, the gender inequality is taking very dangerous proportions… ‘Save the Girl Child’ is the motto of many NGO’s and government schemes.

We have become a leader in information technology and space and satellite imaging and biotechnology but the fruits are still not reaching the average Indian. We must think of ways to let the development reach the rural folk in remote villages. Information technology, if utilized properly, can reach village internet, kiosks. At these places the small farmers, village traders and craftsmen can get the best price for their produce and goods. They can thus reach global markets though e-chaupals. Such novel ways have shown a bright path to many farmers in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Weather reports, information on seeds and fertilizers, best crops to be grown are some of the informative uses of computer network, We need to change our mindset that computers are friendly for urban savvy people. There are many examples of boys and girls doing commendable jobs for their village folk by opening cyber cafes, e-offices and educational centres in rural India.

All this is possible only if each and every one of us resolves to make a difference and as a strong youngistani pledges to be fiercely protective of our rich and varied heritage.

(This essay has been published in the book titled Ten Ways to change the world with a foreword by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, published by FUREC-Foundation for Unity of Religions and Enlightened Citizenship)

Talleen Khirwadkar
II Year B. Planning
SPA Bhopal
Annual NOSplan Magazine 2012

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