“If you’ve ever been to India, it’s likely that you’ve been startled by how young the country looks; the streets of any Indian town, even of its villages, are full of 20-somethings. This isn’t a surprise: India is a very young country. Half of its population is under the age of 25. Two-thirds are less than 35. As a recent Bloomberg News analysis discovered, India is likely to have the world’s largest workforce by 2027, with a billion people aged between 15 and 64.” I am quoting from Mihir Sharma’s article titled India’s youth are the world’s future, with a subtitle running, ” whether that is good or bad remains to be seen”.
Now for a country with such a huge population of youth what do we have for them except maybe cheap internet connection. I mean what avenues do young people have to expend their energies? Do we have enough play grounds? Does our education system require our youth to expend their creative or physical energies in any which way? Where do these young people go for entertainment? What options do they have? How are they going to be creative, imaginative and have the much touted ‘leadership qualities’ if all they have to do is to learn by rot?
I was talking the other day to a 20 year old tall basket ball player who described in detail his exploits on the field. He had been missing classes, ” but we won many tournaments, mam”, he said with palpable excitement. ” Our team is made up of new comers but I am happy about how we are shaping up,” he added with a certain pride.
His friend mumbled in support and an obvious admiration, ” His father was admitted in the hospital, he has been juggling studies, sports and hospital, mam” .
How many of young people who regularly attend classes can say the same about themselves, ” I am proud of who I am and how I am doing right now”.
In the flurry of activities, often meaningless of filling records( by copying), filling notebooks, ( again from others books), of solving sums( copied from other sources) our youngsters feel unchallenged and this I believe leaves them with a huge sense of dissatisfaction, a great feeling of under achievement.
My cousin who is pursuing his studies in New Zealand tells me, ” We are doing real things here. We have to solve real time problems faced by real companies in front of those who head them. Those guys can ask any random question and the faculty too is not kind to us, they really drill us and that gets us to think, really!”
In an activity that required students to speak on a topic of their choice, many students chose to speak critically on the current education system. Of course, the discussion and debates on social media has influenced them but some valid points were raised. Here are some of them:
- Freedom to choose the subjects for studies.
- Regular revision of syllabus.
- Support from parents and society to pursue careers of choice.
- Need to revamp examination systems, selection criteria etc.
- While English is necessary it is not the be all and end all of education.
- Allow students to participate in active politics, there is much at stake for the youth.
- Give credits for work outside the classrooms.
- Treat students as partners in the learning process, not as receivers of bounty!
- Stop discrimination on the basis of gender, caste, religion.
- Stop looking down at those who engage in labor whether it is that of a construction worker or a sexual worker.
- Be compassionate to farmers.
Also many of the young people were openly supportive of what we call progressive. There is less animosity among the youth towards people with different faiths, genders, sexual orientations, political beliefs etc.
From idolizing the Australian Cricket Team, to worshiping the crusaders of black identity in America, to fighting against atrocities in the name of caste and religion,to raising voice for the women and children, to wondering about the purpose of life and the evolution of human consciousness, to being able to decide their idol and role model purely based on merit, young people today can speak up, have an opinion, express and debate on a given topic. All they need is more opportunities to being challenged, questioned and being made to think independently.
As a country, it is our business to give them more avenues to express their many talents and abilities, if truly the Indian youth is the future of the world, they need to be nurtured with love,care,compassion and a vision oriented to future, which ironically, is now!
A good idea would be to organize competitions and contests in every thing from sports to verbal duels to theater and arts at the thaluk or panchayat levels to ensure better and more democratic participation in everything from arts, science to coding and theatre.
Let there be more local theatres, dance competitions and singing contests.
Let there be more play grounds, lakes to swim in, places to play about.
Let there be more avenues for expending the energies of the youth.
A happy youth, a better tomorrow!