The youth of India have truly made their mark. Delivering innovations that have changed the lives of millions and in the process earning respect across the world. More than 50% of India's current population is below the age of 25 and over 65% below the age of 35. It is expected that in 2020 - and that's only eight years away - the average age of an Indian will be just 29 years! With such energy and skill at her disposal, a transcendent India has become much more of a possibility.
The achievement of independence for India was a masterstroke that showed the world a new and superior art; the art of non-violent warfare headed by the Father of the Nation that people even today look up to as a symbol of true leadership. The fact that he got the entire nation behind him to work for one cause, at a time when technology was a scarce resource was the first sign of India's leadership to keep what rightfully belongs to her. However, all this is not well, one must confess. The youth of India do not stand for or against any cause in unanimity. They are fragmented, disillusioned and more often than not, driven by interest groups. As the largest vote bank in the country, the youth which is as diverse as the population of India itself, do not unite themselves on a common platform to stand for or against – and it really is a worrisome sign.
Their impatience and frustration have become evident in election results, in rural protests, in simmering insurrections and most dramatically, in the steady march of migrants into India's bulging cities. With nearly 70% of all jobs being created in cities, the proportion of Indians living in cities is projected to rise from three in 10 today to two in five by 2030. A World Bank report notes that more people live on less than US$ 2 a day in India than in sub-Saharan Africa, and a large proportion of the population is excluded from education and skills development – about 7.1 million children are out of school and, among 15-29 year olds, only 2% have received formal vocational training.
While there is no reason why this is happening or perhaps there are many, there are enough reasons that the youth must come together and the time is now. While this cannot be the only reason why we have more of an unequal, unstable and unsustainable growth like much of the world, we will need to build consensus on matters and agendas that the youth must stand for / against for them to Stand Tall. And the opportunity that India has today is just the perfect springboard for the youth to jump ahead into the future. As the largest democracy in the world where less than 50% of the youth exercise their right to vote, where corruption is rampant, where social responsibilities are a choice, where the reform process has multiple layers of acceptance and rejection, where education, healthcare, food and sanitation are critical problems facing the nation - considering we are 65 years into independence - the youth have to stand up; stand tall and be heard.
The Young Indians Southern Regional Summit is an attempt by CII's Young Indians to talk about these issues, interact with people who have found solutions where others always found problems and get the youth to start acting on these issues. As an organisation, Yi stands to engage youth in nation building and as a summit, this gives the youth an opportunity to hear and be heard, to inspire and be inspired and to be part of the generation that has to make the change. Now!!!
The father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi's mandate "Be the change you want to see in others," inspires many, not just in India but across the world. President of the United States, Barak Obama, has hailed him as a leader not just to India but also to the world. People in South Africa still commemorate him for his work there. He continues to inspire all those who seek equality and well being of all human kind through non-violent and peaceful means. Most importantly he continues to stir the mind and soul of Young Indians who are eager to change the world. The question is: are they ready to be the change they want to see in the world?
As India moves towards completing its sixty first year as a Republic, the debate is on whether India's tryst with destiny has significantly changed the world or not. The geopolitical implications of India's birth as an independent nation and then subsequently as a republic can not be ignored, but what are India's contributions to the world? One can argue that they are plenty – from zero to yoga to films to IT. But as the world's largest democracy, and one of the oldest civilizations, as people, Indians have a lot more to contribute to the world than they have already done.
Sixty one years after Independence, and in the first decade of the 21st century we find ourselves at an inflexion point, when despite the challenges of the times, we see Young Indians raring to engage themselves towards a new India@75. By 2022, we hold for ourselves a vision of a vibrant innovative youthful India in the forefront of global leadership with its pluralistic, multicultural, inclusive and secular democracy.
To achieve this we have a very young population with immense talent and hunger who wants to make positive choices for action rather than passive responding. Young people want to increasingly get their share of the global pie by forming networks of project implementers. They want to identify strongly with the best global Next Practices. We will see the NextGen set up new social matrices with new fulcrums of thought derived from shared aspirations that will rebalance relationships between business and society.
India will allow equal opportunity to access the vast talent pool through education and skills development. Already we see our youth raring to set up new 21st century processes of our own through doorstep banking and microfinance. Our youth has a new adventurous voice willing to tackle global uncertainties.
The purpose of this 5th Young Indians National Summit- 'WAKE UP India@75: Make your choice NOW' is therefore to reflect, analyze and act on the thinking of young men and women of India who cogitate on the complexities of tomorrow, who see tomorrow, clearly and directly. Professor Dr C K Prahalad, seer and prophet of the business universe, advocates disruptive innovation and making up viable models that spring from local conditions. His Bottom of the Pyramid vision was essentially Indian as also the core competence theory. Both made many companies open their eyes to opportunity and profits anew.
What will be the role of business in the 21st century? We need youthful leadership, authentic and of course inspiring trust and passion equally. Surely the global financial meltdown and the sub-prime crisis is a call to ethical thinking and management. Young people will increasingly need to make businesses participatory; involve people at the bottom of the pyramid so that we make a difference in their lives. We need chief value officers but the new value systems should not be just theories.
As we are realizing now, without a goal post, not just businesses but society and country at large is rudderless with the waters of immense change engulfing it. For the progressive rural farmer or the MBA joining the job stream, planning and extrapolating 20 years hence, is of the essence.
Professor Prahalad also dispenses managerial medicine in the form of clearly spelt out hopes and direction that India should be taking. And it is not in terms of numbers or quarterly reports that his mantra lies. Changing the price performance envelope, using purchasing power parity rather than income as a measure of the human development goal, going in for hi-tech solutions as well as sustainable focused development & governance and reviving the glory of Indian arts, science and sports are his prescriptions. We obviously need Next-gen solutions, disruptive and futuristic and paradigm changing rather than band-aid short term prescriptions.