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Whats the power of youth in 'Nation-Building'?

Durga Rao , Last updated: 07 September 2012  

I am a strong believer of youth power and their ability to make this nation prosperous and super power in the world one day. Many successful industrialists, academicians, teachers, media and even some politicians very often refers to the power of youth in ‘nation building’. Of course, industry most often complains at the standards being maintained in our educational institutions through-out the country and poor out-put. Needs of industry cannot be met by few institutions like IITs, IIMs and these graduates can also prefer to work abroad and work in foreign firms.  Some State Governments are sponsoring education at college level or at the level of professional education.  With the schemes like ‘free reimbursement’ etc., people with political connections or the politicians establish educational institutions especially engineering colleges in order to get the benefit of ‘fee reimbursement scheme’ of a State Government and most of these institutions knows as to how to manage the officials or authorities and they are not really bothered at the standards as such as their motto is to make profit. Though there should not be any profit element when it comes to imparting education, everyone knows about ‘management quotas’ and collection of donations unofficially.  Public Schools are not functioning properly and even the poor people do not prefer to send their children to Government Schools and it makes them to part with the substantial part of their earnings on the education of their children as everyone prefers to get their children educated in private schools these days.  Health and Education consumes the substantial part of earnings of any poor family in this country in view of poor maintenance of Government Schools and Public Health System.  Irrespective of our growth figures, unless this country addresses few important issues, there is a big danger of growth of gap between rich and poor. If we don’t address certain basic issues, it will be evident soon and will be clearer when growth slows down even more and our service sector gets badly affected due to some policies in western countries like USA and European Union.  Even our manufacturing sector must be having many problems apart from the competition from countries like China.  As such, despite the growth figures, growth in real estate business and big budgets, this country can face many problems in future unless we plan well and understand our society well.

In view of these challenging times, the mind-set of the youth and the understanding of the youth in this country about the society are to be noted. Mr.Chetan Bhagat, writer, has been criticized by many as reported in the media when he says that the youth in this country are keen only on their employment and enjoyment. This is my understanding of criticism of Shri Chetan Bhagat. But, I strongly feel that the understanding of Shri Chetan Bhagat is right in his assessment of the mind-set of the youth in this country.  As long as our youth are not attracted towards anti-social activities, people may say, that there is nothing wrong with the mind-set of the youth if they are keen only on their work, development and enjoyment. But, in my view, its not a right kind of assessment. The mind-set of our youth plays a very bigger role in ‘nation building’. They have to lead this country one day and they will become a decisive power soon. If our youth lacks the basic understanding of society, issues, politics and challenges, then, the decisive power of youth can easily be misdirected by vested interest groups and this country will ultimately suffer.

I am not fully convinced that the Private Schools and colleges in this country are producing brilliant students and with all the other required qualities to be a good citizen in this country.  These institutions may be very good at planning, competing with other schools, getting grades and making the children to speak ‘English’ well. But, when it comes to overall development of a student, our Government Schools, infact, have done a wonderful job. Education in Government Schools was excellent few years back and these schools used to give importance to nurturing patriotism, emphasis on sports and related relaxation and there used to be a ‘moral class’ devoted to make the students good citizens in future.  But, that planning is clearly lacking with most of the Private Schools and colleges now; and regulating these colleges is not an easy issue in view of corruption and political connections. Most of the managements of reputed private schools and colleges in this country appear to be having political connections and as such, they will do everything to ensure nothing happens to their school or college. Education in this country has become a very big business and there are people arguing as to whats wrong if the Education becomes business as it encourages the entrepreneurs and private players to investment in education and it can lead to growth. But, that’s a wrong analysis. It’s the job of any Government to provide Education to every child in this country and getting good education is a ‘Fundamental Right’ of every citizen.  But, what happens is that the scope for the poor people to see that their children gets educated and come-up in the society is getting reduced.  Now-a-days, it’s very difficult to find Government Employees and fairly middle class people getting their children educated in Government Schools. As a result, very poor people and under-privileged families send their children to Government Schools and these families lacks the capacity to demand accountability from the authorities in Government Schools and Colleges and in this way, we are indirectly dealing with the fate of many poor families in this country and many poor families are infact have a strong mind-set that their children cannot compete in this society. I am not against Private Schools and Colleges, but, there should be a proper planning ensuring a level playing field and it's in the interests of the nation. Like-wise, we have so many challenges to solve in this country.

When we interact with young people, engineering graduates and other professionals, they lack even the basic understanding of the society. They do not think about the society, societal problems, political developments and the understanding of majority of our youth about society is really dismal.  When these people have dismal understanding of problems facing the country, they express their anger in a fashionable way and they will tend to react to face-book campaigns despite the fact that they do not know anything. This youth thinks that they are doing a great service and making this country great by expressing their anger through some organizations and in response to face-book campaigns. But, that’s not true. This realistic assessment of our youth, according to many, makes everyone suspect as to whether our youth is ready to use their decisive power in future to make this country great. Though, I am a great optimist, I am aware of the challenges and realities.  It seems, our earlier generations had a better understanding of society than us.  Our earlier generations had so many problems like huge differences among people in the society in the name of caste or community, concentration of land in the hands of few, overwhelming majority lacking access to good education and economic problems.  They have planned well and in a systematic way, they have addressed these problems and now, we get benefited from their struggle.  We may feel proud at the results of liberalization and its impact and related growth. But, if we don’t plan well and not focused on the challenges, we may suddenly collapse also.

We may have many problems like corruption, lack of transparency in government departments, policies being misused by politicians to make thousands of crores suddenly, extremism, growth of regionalism and we may even witness unfortunate events in our policy making body’s like Parliament and State Assembly’s.  We need to look at root causes for all the problems in a realistic and honest manner and should be able to find solutions in future. Now, getting real and honest information through media is also difficult as it is very difficult to find ‘independent media’ now-a-days. Most of the News Channels are backed by some corporates or politicians. Many political parties do exercise great amount of influence over media and infact, they have their own media also. In this atmosphere, it is very difficult to get honest and real information about the society.  With the mind-set of our youth who do not even bother to read News Paper regularly, do not bother to watch news atleast for some 20 minutes a day, with our business oriented educational system and complex media environment, we have real problems and we need to find answers for all these problems. Youth should inevitably play a major and decisive role in future in making this country great.  Our youth can build the nation and can make this county strong and at the same time, they can also destroy our society and growth if misguided.

There is nothing wrong on the part of the students and youth if they are focused so much on their education and personal growth. But, they should have some basic understanding of society and societal problems and they can not altogether ignore this society.  This country cannot move forward with so much communal differences, but, still, it's unfortunate if our youth still thinks on communal lines.

Students pursuing professional courses like CA and CS, should be guiding companies in future in financial reporting and corporate compliance. As soon as they complete their course successfully, they will be discharging great responsibilities in corporate world. In discharge of their responsibilities, these young professionals may get exposed to the loop-wholes in tax mechanism, difficulties in auditing, complex legal system and many other related problems.  It is expected that the students pursuing CA and CS, along with all other graduates should have a social responsibility and they cannot argue that it is enough if they think about themselves and the society will automatically prosper if everyone does that. That’s an illogical argument.  Our youth should follow as to what is happening in the society and in the country on regular basis. If they lack the basic understanding and realistic assessment of various issues and problems, they can be misguided easily by vested interest groups and then, instead of building the ‘nation’, this youth can be a part of destroying the ‘nation’. Youth cannot escape their social responsibility as they are in this society and should live in this society. I have once heard a statement of Dr.Jayaprakash Narayan of Loksatta in Andhra Pradesh that if rich and privileged forget about the society and the problems of under-privileged, then, the rich and privileged cannot survive in this society and they may have to migrate to countries like Singapore one day. I am very strong on my opinion that our youth forgets the society and societal problems which is not good for the country in the long run. If I am wrong in my assessment and opinion, I would be very happy to listen to counter argument. I would like to listen to the youth explaining and giving realistic solutions to the challenges and problems in this country.

We cannot allow this country to fail at any cost. Whatever may be the problems, we should be in a position to find solutions to every problem. No one should think that the people with ideals are fools and no one should think that its foolishness to think about the society.

Many are not fully convinced at the power of youth and their ability to find solutions to the challenges facing the nation. Many are suspect and doubtful as to whether our youth can make this country proud and can make this country strong.

I have heard once that good grounding in ‘Arts’ makes good citizens, but, we have neglected ‘Arts subjects’ completely.

Note: the views expressed are my personal. 

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Durga Rao
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