- Written by Govindarajan Suresh
- Published: 13 July 2013
“Youth is a spark which can either burn or lighten the country”, it is said. India and China are the countries having maximum youth population and suppose to enjoy the demographic dividend. However, this demographic dividend would become a demographic disaster, if the youth are not properly guided and their energy is not harnessed.
Well, today there is a tremendous pressure on the youth of our country in every field, to achieve, excel and take the country forward. When it comes to fighting corruption, everyone looks towards the youth(conveniently!?). There appears to be exasperation out of this expectation from the ‘not so youth’ and elderly, particularly in the area of fighting corruption. While every citizen has to play an effective role in the fight against corruption, the youth, by virtue of their very nature and in their own self interest, should go the extra mile in the fight against corruption.
In this direction, it is worthwhile recalling the call of Mr. Ratan Tata to the youth of our country sometime ago, when he said, “The youth of today will need to recognise that they shoulder a great responsibility. They will need to fight for rooting out corruption, for ensuring that no one is above the law and uniting the citizens of India as ‘India first’ instead of communal or geographic factions”.
Now, it is a question of taking responsibility and rooting out corruption. Where does the journey begin? In my opinion, the role of youth in the fight against corruption should happen at two levels. One, at their personal level and secondly, their professional level.
I have been closely associated with a faction of the youth of our country in the e-mode, thanks to the online essay contests conducted for the past 7 years through SIV-G (www.siv-g.org) involving the youth on topics such as integrity, good governance, fighting corruption etc. With this experience, I can say categorically that there are good numbers of youth in our country who are ready to shoulder greater responsibilities as Mr. Tata envisaged. May be the numbers are not good enough! At the same time, it is very difficult at this stage to explain to the youth that corruption is risky and does not pay, especially when examples of flourishing corrupt people have become common! The experience in involving the youth in forming the National Governance Corps (NGC) on the lines of NCC and NSS also gave a clue that the present day youth, driven by their parents’ pressure in most of the cases, ask the question ‘what is in it for me’ when they are expected to be good and honest citizens. Perhaps, the feel of ‘India first’ as Mr. Tata said, is hard to find.
This has lead to a situation where the youth today tries to relate everything to success, sadly in terms of monetary terms. First of all, one must be clear about what success is. Is it to be rich? To be a world icon? To be famous? To be rich and famous or to be a great visionary or what else? And…. One has to have a logic for thinking so. I only recall the story of Aristotle (I think). Once when he was sitting near the border of his village, a stranger who wanted to migrate to the village approached him and asked, ‘do you have thieves in your village?’ Aristotle replied, ‘yes’. Then the stranger asked, ‘are there people who fight with each other in your village?’ Aristotle said, ‘yes’. Then the stranger came out with another question, ‘are there people indulging in bad habits in your village?’ Aristotle replied again, ‘yes’. Hearing all these ‘yes’, the stranger decided to move to another place. After a while, another stranger approached Aristotle and asked, ‘do you have honest people in your village?’ Aristotle replied, ‘yes’. Then the stranger asked, ‘do you have people having concern for others in your village?’ Aristotle replied, ‘yes’. The next question from the stranger was ‘do you have people with good character in your village?’ Again the reply from Aristotle was a big ‘yes’. Then the stranger moved in to the village happily. So it is important for the youth to know what they want and more importantly, how they want what they want! In fact, one can not blame the Google for providing a bad search result when the ‘key search word’ itself was bad!
Therefore, it is up to the youth to look up for the role models and derive inspiration and keep their heads high. They should have higher ideals in life which goes beyond the self-centered boundary and the precinct of the narrow mind. The higher the goal, the greater the potency in action and fruitful results rather than those of lower ideals towards accumulation of wealth and indulgence in earthly pleasure. This is the first and foremost step the youth has to take in the fight against corruption at their personal level.
In fact, one of the participants of the online essay contest expressed the following when asked to write on ‘does integrity mean anything to me?’:
“Well, so does integrity mean anything to me? The answer is, it does and it means to me not just to be united and to have high moral principles, but also the key to the growth of our nation, the ability to make ethical judgements in the face of diversity, to be united as a nation in spite of being faced by thousands of differences, to uphold the ideals of morality taught to us scores of years ago, to be the change and to be nothing less than oneself and find pride in it.”
‘India first’ is all about this! The youth has to raise at their personal level in the fight against corruption, as it is a matter of individual’s integrity. It is said that integrity requires three steps: "discerning what is right and what is wrong; acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right from wrong." In fact, integrity is being regarded as distinct from honesty.
It is ultimately the question of building national character. National character is nothing but the collective awareness combined with braveness. As Rajaji said, “National character is the keystone on which rests the fate and future of our public affairs, not this or that ‘ism’”. The youth has to contribute in a greater way in building national character through personal integrity.
The next contribution that should come from the youth in the fight against corruption is at their professional level, immaterial whether they take up a job or become an entrepreneur. The youth should not allow themselves to become a money making machine. They should become leaders through their right action. Also, they should understand the limitation of technology in distinguishing between human values, human good, human need and human pleasure. In fact, few years ago, I was invited by the Hindu Businessline, Chennai to interact with a group of college students. I was asked to give five guiding principles which the youth can put in practice in the fight against corruption. This is what I had to say:
(i)Self disclosure – speak out or send out clear signals right at the beginning of your career that you stand by certain ethical values and demonstrate such values in your work and exhibit your honesty. Remember, honesty is doing the right thing even when no one is watching! For entrepreneurs, it is important to come out with a code of ethics while evolving the systems for the enterprise and equally important is to stand by those laid down codes;
(ii)Be sure that you do not become an object for blackmailing – do not do anything which gives room for others to blackmail;
(iii)Be fair and transparent in all your actions. Fairness comes when your action or decision does not make the other party to lose. Such fairness must be visible to others. If at all you had to violate any of the existing system and procedure, it has to be only to benefit the organisation and do it in a transparent way. Soon you will realise that such violations gets updated to the existing systems and procedures!
(iv)Learn how to call a spade a spade and learn to tell ‘no’. Do not be a ‘yes man’ and do not allow ‘yes man’ around you. Remember Tata once scrapped one of his project proposals after a board meeting when everyone said ‘yes’ to his proposal!
(v)All the above four principles can be put into practice only when you know yourself and believe in yourself. With this belief comes an absolute faith in God, no matter what, you are bound to succeed.
Ultimately, the truth lies in what Mr. P. Shankar, former CVC said in his message to SIV-G sometime ago in the context of role of youth to fight corruption, when he said, “We cannot and should not wait for a Mahatma to come and fight for this. Each of us should raise our voice and the resultant roar should frighten the evil forces of corruption.” He further said, “once the youth of the country recognize corruption as a weed to be destroyed from our midst and show themselves as determined to fight it and not be passive, we can, indeed, hope for a good future for the country.”
Youth are the most important and dynamic segment of the population in any country. It is believed that developing countries with large youth population could see tremendous growth, provided they invest in young people’s education, health and protect and guarantee their rights. We can undoubtedly say that today’s young are tomorrow’s innovators, creators, builders and leaders. But they need the required support in terms of good health and opportunities skills to transform the future. The economic trigger happens when a county’s more hands to work available than more mouths to feed. To put it succinctly, working age population has to be larger than the dependent population.
India’s development is in the hands of the young people.
Almost 34 percent of Indian population consists of youth. They have the power to change the nation. Young mind will be more fresh and innovative which helps in the progress of the country. But adequate opportunities should be given to the youth to represent their ideas and policies for the upliftment of the nation. Only way to express the ideas and to implement their policies is politics. Young people should be motivated to take part in politics and to occupy the high positions such as Prime Minister, Governor and Chief Minister. Knowledge and unity speaks a lot rather than experience. For instance, a mass protest by the youth in the Marina beach for Jallikattu is a prominent example for the strength of youth. If the ruling power is given in the hands of the youth, then definitely India will become developed nation in 2020.
Youth can be antidote to bad governance and corruption.
They have power to change. Education programs should aim to teach and young minds right from the school level the importance of choosing right people who would take charge of governance. Conventionally, youth have been asked to keep away from politics. Youth should be motivated to consider politics as a means to serve the nation. They should be oriented on anti-corruption drives with focus on prevention, education, and strategies for fighting corruption. Good governance is realistic with youth empowerment.
The pivotal role of youth who are afresh with ideas and not ideals, will help in this movement towards a transparent civil society structure which can influence the political administration for the benefit of the society. For Eg: Youth Arts and Sports Club once a prominent site in Kerala’s villages had a dual role to encourage youths participation in social and political activities through awareness and also empowering the people for rights and assisting them at various levels. Over the years, this has decreased owing to the relative unimportance and support given by the political and state machinery in promoting such youth initiatives, inspite of the fact that they were effective systems to encourage youth towards politics and disseminate information at the grassroot level. It is only through a strong system of representation that democracy work and it is only through a strong youth representation that the dynamism and vigour of a country be maintained. It is therefore important to acknowledge the role of civil societies in empowering youth towards strengthening of the democratic system of the country. The solution lies to effectively utilize modern tools in disseminating the belief among youth on their participation and representation in democracy through civil society initiatives.
Youths are problem solvers.
Our nations need them to resolve most of our problems. The nation is facing a lot of problems, and I believe that the youths are capable of solving them. They just need to be given a chance to prove themselves. Youths have the power to unite individuals in the six ethnic groups. Racism is an ongoing issue around the world. Individuals are fighting against each other because of the complexion of their skin and the texture of their hair. Religion is another issue, the youths can convince their fellow man to live in peace and love. All of us are one and we should not allow these little differences to push us away from each other.
There also a lot of crime taking place. Women are being killed by their abusive husbands. Person’s homes, businesses, are being broken into. All of this crime and violence needs to stop. The youth once more has the ability to bring about a change in their country.
Youths seems to have the ability to face any challenges and problems. They have a positive influence on their fellow young people. They are able to teach them the positive things in life.
The ones who are destroying their future, they tend to listen to their fellow youths. They will make them understand the importance of a good education.
The wise youths that we have out there should be taken into consideration. Some of them, though educated are unemployed. They should be given an opportunity to expose their intelligence to the world and make themselves into someone. Some organisations and other firm should assist the youths; so they can make our land a great and educated one. They will make a huge difference in society and the entire world.The youths are our life and nation. They will make our country proud. The country will be recognized. The youths just need the support from their fellow citizens and they will perform their duties.
In conclusion, the role of the youth in the nation building is crucial. They are problem solvers, have a positive influence on other young people and the nation, and are extremely ambitious. They have the ability to create an identity for themselves and move the nation forward. However, they will not be able to do this without the support of their Government and fellow youths. So the youths can make their beautiful land flourish and shine in success.
AUTHOR: L. SANMIHA,
(Content Writer @ Legal Bites)
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