Here’s a Quick Way to Tap into India’s Youthful Energy

India must find a way to harness the energy and enthusiasm of its young people to safeguard its honor and return to the unparalleled glory of its pre-colonial era.

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Credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Youth is a golden phase not only of the individual but also of the nation.

Blessed is India, a richly ancient civilization, with such wealth, with 70 percent of its population below the age of 35 years. The diamonds now need to be mined and refined.

The youth of Indian men and women needs to be prevented from being washed away by the accumulation of educational degrees, job hunting, and baser forms of entertainment.

The nation, faced with terror attacks and social ills, needs the massive energy and enthusiasm of its young people, especially the youngsters, to safeguard its honor and get back the unparalleled glory of the pre-colonial times.

Just as the flow of water is converted into hydroelectric power and channeled into a worthwhile destination, youth energies need to be harnessed for constructive purposes. But this task largely remains a lukewarm enterprise, though in one way or another Indian youths have commendably served the nation through professional services and volunteering.

College Degree Versus Early Careers

At a time when Indians are pursuing double master’s or other degrees in their late 20’s and beyond, it appears that formal education years have expanded beyond the usual age. Early college years, with unfruitful degrees and fiercely competitive job scenario, may thus not be an indispensable choice for youngsters if jobs are available to them upon graduation from high schools (around the age of 17), and if they and their families could be sensitized into appreciating the worth of the glorious jobs of serving the nation.

What are those jobs?

Primarily, intelligence bands or squads, involving training, should be raised to keep watchful eyes on suspicious persons or activities, mainly in neighborhoods. In fact, intelligence is of a prime necessity in foiling terror attacks; enhancing its sources, therefore, would be greatly helpful to police.

The training can escalate to counter-terrorism operations for the selected candidates on the basis of performance and motivation. Such bands can also incorporate provision of social services and protection of the environment.

Such units or jobs will have the following major advantages for youngsters: early career at a time when monetary needs might be their major requirement; if money is not a prime necessity, the adventure and thrill associated with the field work could be an attractive force; the youthful energy will find a nationalistic outlet rather than being frittered away on frivolous or wasteful activities; and the lack of purpose and the frustration arising from professional setbacks could be prevented.

These jobs will be a step ahead of volunteering and could be a great option for those who do not intend to join military, police or security forces or enter a long-term social services career.

Upon completion of services in such jobs, the youngsters may decide to pursue higher education, while this work experience can entitle them to get some relaxation in gaining admission to higher educational institutions, such as a percentage of quotas or reduction in tuition fees. This entitlement can serve to assuage their concerns about postponing the pursuit of university education.

The youngsters in the squads will wield impressive titles, aimed at boosting their pride in their job. The training would inculcate in them a nationalistic fervor, driven by a passion to offset the foreign and homegrown attempts to humiliate the nation through subversive activities.

In other words, the morale of army personnel must be imbued in the youngsters whose minds can be molded for a noble cause at an early age. This will also involve developing in them a taste for good literature in contrast to pornographic material as well as encouraging them to have a nutritious diet and building up strong bodies and strong minds.

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Don’t Equate Youth with Fun

One of the culprits is the unscrupulous agenda of business corporations which, in order to market their products, appeal to the baser instincts of youngsters, conveying the message of an integral link between youth and gross sensual pleasures. This will need to be countered during the training of their minds: fun is for life, life is not for fun.

From Politicization to Nationalization

Political parties tend to look upon youth as a pillar of their own political survival, demanding campaigning, propaganda, and defeating the rival parties’ agenda.  The resulting demagoguery and appeals to primordial loyalties of caste, region and religion have politicized the Indian youth who now need to be nationalized.

They’re not meant to be stooges of any particular leader, nor should they be the passive spectators of how things unfold. The youth must be encouraged, mobilized and motivated to take charge of the country and defend it. And this does not require initiation into any political process.

How to Finance?

Financing would not be a major problem if corruption could be tackled. Without waiting for corruption to collapse, multiple sources can be explored apart from government funding. As an alternative, a pilot program can begin, and over time local communities can be encouraged to finance it.

In fact, people in India make huge donations to temples. Their nationalistic urges need to be stimulated to donate money for financing such jobs. Similarly, business corporations can be urged to make donations as part of their corporate social responsibility. These financing efforts can witness a high success rate if they are kept above party politics.

If terrorist outfits can indoctrinate the youth into jihad, we must trust our own strength to prepare our youngsters to offset their nefarious designs. Moreover, Indian youths are not merely for filling engineering or corporate slots or for ensuring high growth rates as a workforce. We need to think beyond that.

Modalities

This plan is a broader outline with details to be filled in by eliciting views from different quarters of society on such matters as duration of training and service, nature of institutional mechanism, grievance redressal mechanism, coordination with police, policy changes, and safety and security of youngsters.

Who will bring about this change? Would it be a community-driven initiative? There are no ready-made answers, but the crucial issue is to substantively tap the energy of the youngsters. Modalities can be worked out once a push from an individual or community comes.

Alternatively, the existing National Youth Corps scheme can be reformed to reflect the focus on defense and to tailor and upgrade the training to inculcate nation-building as the foremost individual goal.

Romi Jain is a published poet, novelist, and Vice President of the Indian Journal of Asian Affairs. She did her MBA from San Francisco, California, and has worked as a marketing professional with a Silicon Valley-based company. Her creative works include: The Storm Within (2008; 2011), Poetry! You Resurrect Me (2011) and Voices of Rocks in the Dusk (2012). Her poems have appeared in international anthologies and in literary journals such as Off the Coast; Touch: The Journal of Healing; The Journal of Poetry Society; Aquill Relle Magazine; Munyori Literary Journal; and The Tower Journal. Read other articles by Romi.