November 30, 2020
The current happenings in our country have rightfully got its citizens concerned and anxious. The NPR (National Population Register) and the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) have seen a wave of protest across the country. The CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill), now CAA threatens the fabric of secularism in the country.
Reading about the bill, I too wanted to register my protest. When the protest at Azad Maidan on 7th Nov 2019 was announced I made it a point to ensure that I was present. The experience was significant and enlightening. Immediately I was taken up by the number of people who had come out to be part of the rally. On my way to the rally I found myself walking with a few youngsters who were all making their way to the maidan. Two were girls just out of college and the other two were young working professionals. Each was sharing what led them to make it for the protest. The passion, the disbelief and the objection to what was happening was visible. One spoke of how her parents were uncomfortable with her joining the protest so while they were taking their afternoon nap she got out of the house.
The other spoke of how she got out of the house while her parents were out at lunch. They were passionate and fired up- to the extent that they were even readying themselves for the eventuality of being taken into police custody! All of them were well aware of the happenings across the country, the backlash the protestors were facing and yet they were ready to come out and make their voice heard. I could sense that courageous energy that drives one to action that the youth bring on to the table.
By the time I got to the approach road of the maidan we learnt that the maidan was full. There was a floating crowd- many with very creative banners, posters and the occasional chanting and the whole crowd joining in- cheering and clapping. I was struck by the diversity of the crowd in the rally- students, young professionals leaving early from work to be there, the elite with their branded shoes and accessories and the commoner- all on the same road supporting the same cause.
The rally was also a testimony of the power of the youth. It was called for largely by students, it was attended in large numbers by students from different institutes and young professionals. The speeches given by the students was inspiring and electrifying. I witnessed firsthand the passion and drive that they possess. The desire to back a cause that they find meaningful was palpable. How important it is then for us to nurture and effectively guide our youth- to leverage this energy and passion.
Young people today are interested in issues such as economy, jobs, education, equal rights, environment and opportunities for all. More and more it is looking like those who were earlier considered to be the ones to be taken care of will have to be the ones guiding us into the future- the students at the rallies and youngsters like Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousoufzai seem to be alluding to this new reality.
The editorial column of the Times of India on 1st Jan 2020 read ‘Perhaps the young will be able to change India’s narrative this decade.’ The young that is being referred to very much includes the youngsters in our families- our children, nieces, nephews. Our role then as guides and mentors becomes crucial. Are we engaging our youth in conversations that ingrain in them the agency and the confidence of making a difference? Do we help them become aware of what is happening around us to sow the seeds of being change agents- to build in them the confidence that they can make a difference? A big part of this is also building a socially responsible entrepreneurial mindset in our youth. This mindset is key if the youth have to lead change.
In his post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation ‘Christus Vivit’ (Christ is Alive) Pope Francis speaks of how the glory of youth is in the heart. He says young hearts are naturally ready to change, to turn back, get up and learn from life. He also says today, the older generation is sometimes failing to handover to the young basic values of life. The question is are we helping our youngsters draw life lessons. Are we spending time to help them imbibe values of concern for the other, readiness to reach out, justice and taking action in love.
As we work with our youngsters and groom them for their professional careers may we take time to spend with them in conversation, about what is happening in society, what is happening to the environment. May we dialogue on contributions that each of us can make and may we sow seeds of confidence and belief in the power that each of us have to make a positive difference. May we ignite and help uncover the power in our young ones.