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Indian Youth Lead The Way To Solve Pressing Humanitarian Issues

The Youth significant role as champions of sustainable development goals. There is a need to empower the youth of the country, especially in rural India to emerge as the environmental stewards of the local communities.

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India has its largest ever adolescent and youth population. According to UNFPA projections, India will continue to have one of the youngest populations in the world until 2030. Youth population plays an essential role in providing innovative and sustainable solutions to social and economic problems globally.  From environment protection, gender equality, eliminating poverty to road safety, young people have been an essential part of the positive change discovering new ways to solve critical challenges.  Youth around the world have been branded the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet of tomorrow because of their innovativeness. It is the need of the hour to create the right mindset and empower the youth to evolve as the champions of sustainable development goals.  

Against the backdrop of this global pandemic, through activism and volunteerism, the youth need to unite in answering the call for local and global transformation.

A Cleaner and Greener Environment 

The youth of today are leaders in the conversation for protection and development of the environment through advocacy in their homes, schools, and youth organisations to adopt preservation, sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. In India, a new programme conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme’s the Clean Seas Campaign saw the participation of 1,900 young people across India in the universal movement against plastic pollution. Even with the launch of the Green Skill Development Programme in 2017, which focuses on developing skills among the youth in the environment and forest sector, there is a rift between awareness and call to action. The need of the hour is to bridge the gap between environmental awareness and conservation actions for effectively enabling the youth with the necessary tools and skills to take action for sustainable solutions.

A Youth Divide

Lack of attention and focus on youth-led social initiatives often deters the young dreamers from stepping forward to take the lead in making a difference.  They do not get the necessary support for their ideas. Burdens such as unemployment, lack of job skills, low income and job pressure are challenges hindering community welfare.

Understanding these need gaps faced in India, CSR initiatives undertaken by companies mobilise young volunteers by promoting youth volunteerism and engagement for local and global partnerships. They work to provide the necessary direction and empower rural youth in communities to become local change-makers.

Youth Involvement in Rural India 

Rural India has an immense potential to be the powerhouse for national development. Considering the youth as the environmental stewards of the future, government along with corporates have been relentlessly working towards empowering the youth in rural areas, across the nation. The corporate trusts and their initiatives are focused on educating and building skills amongst the youth, which can aid to enhance productivity and promote sustainable environmental development.

One such example by a corporate trust that had undertaken programmes to empower a group of youth in Padavedu of the Thiruvannamalai District in Tamil Nadu. The areas of Kappalur, Kalpattu, Kalasamuthiram and Kuppam are under the trust’s Afforestation Project, initiated in 2015, which provides a comprehensive approach towards environmental sustainability. Under this project, actions such as the adoption of planting and nurturing methods, enabling local community participation and ensuring the gradual restoration of natural forests are undertaken. Even with these measures in place, these areas are incredibly prone to fires due to the ecological sensitivity of the regions of Tamil Nadu. These fires significantly damage the flora and fauna, severely affecting the ecological balance.

Therefore, it was imperative that the villagers were equipped with the knowledge on fire prevention and control measures, aimed explicitly at assembling youth who are seeking work. This awareness of conversation educates, encourages and motivates rural youth to play an active role in environmental sustainability activities. Subsequently, engaging the youth in environmental protection not only creates a direct impact on changing their behaviours and attitudes but possibly extend influence on their families.

In line with previous programmes, the trust continues to work towards enabling leaders at the rural level and encourage village members to take charge of social change and social development work. 1,134 villages in India have already reached self-reliant levels through these initiatives. 

Leaders of Tomorrow

The youth are ensuring that their voices are being heard as they now shoulder ongoing responsibilities and challenges faced across the globe. There still exists a disparity within the group, which must be addressed by establishing more youth-centric enablement programmes and campaigns that will propel them in their pursuit of becoming proactive changemakers. Governments must acknowledge this segment of society as key stakeholders and partners of society. In turn, the youth must use their collective voice to advocate, collaborate and lead initiatives that act in favour of national and global growth. The youth are the next generation of entrepreneurs, educators, activists, philanthropists, impact investors, and innovators.  Industries and government should work together to use the brainpower of these young resources to solve the world’s acute humanitarian problems.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Swaran Singh, IAS (R)

Swaran Singh, IAS (R) is the Chairman of the Srinivasan Services Trust (SST), the social arm of the TVS Motor Company since August 2018. Before joining SST, Mr Singh was into public service, where he worked for over three decades, holding significant portfolios in the Government of India. He retired from the Government of Tamil Nadu as Principal Secretary & Commissioner for Industries & Commerce.

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