India has the unique strength of almost 400 million youth, with the median age of the nation being a mere 27 years. It is about 37 years for China, about 38 for the US, 31 for Brazil and about 39 for Russia. This makes India the youngest among the emerging BRIC nations. By 2020, India is set to become the world’s youngest country with 64 per cent of its population in the working age group. With most of the west, Japan and even China ageing, this youth potential gives India an opportunity which, many experts believe, could add a significant 2 per cent to the GDP growth rate.
Realising the youth potential
I believe the ignited mind of the youth is the most powerful resource on, above and under the earth. We have to generate creative leaders in business, politics, science, education, services, manufacturing and agriculture.
The spirit of 'what can I give': Every one of us goes through different phases of education from childhood to profession, both academically and in life. A scene appears in front of me. It is the evolutionary thinking of a child, a teenager, an adult and a leader. How does each one react to the same situation? The child says, “you give me.” The teenager says, “I want to do it alone.” The young person says, “Let us do it together.” The leader asks, “What can I give you?” The doctrine of 'what can I give' is indeed the positive cry of the country. The 'what can I give' environment will make Indian leaders who govern free from corruption. It is true also for industries, academies, 200 million homes and everyday life. Then a beautiful, happy and prosperous India will be born. We need to nurture this spirit in our youth.
Making youth unique: Youth of India need to be encouraged to be unique in their careers and lives. I have, so far, met 21 million youth in India and abroad within a decade. I learned one thing from these interactions— “Every youth wants to be unique, that is, you! But the world all around you is doing its best, day and night, to make you just 'everybody else'”.
I tell all the youth that the challenge before them is that they have to fight the hardest battle any human being can ever imagine and never stop fighting until they arrive at their destined place, that is, a unique you.
Reforming the education system: It is reported that, within a decade, India will need 300 to 500 million employable skilled youth. Hence, there is a need to completely change the university and secondary school syllabus. During the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th classes, 25 per cent of the time has to be allotted for skill development programmes. When secondary school students finish school, they will have two certificates; one for 10+2 qualification, and the other for the unique skill acquired during the four-year period. That means we get a skilled bank of almost 7 million every year. In such a situation, the role played by educationists, policy makers and industry should help upgrade the skill of the youth to make him or her a member of the knowledge society.
India 2020: About two decades ago, we set on an ambitious mission of imagining an economically developed India and set a roadmap to achieve it. This vision 2020 had 10 distinct pillars of development:
- A nation where the rural and urban divide has reduced to a thin line
- A nation where there is an equitable distribution and adequate access to energy and quality water
- A nation where agriculture, industry and the service sector work together in symphony
- A nation where education with value system is not denied to any meritorious candidates because of societal or economic discrimination
- A nation which is the best destination for the most talented scholars, scientists and investors
- A nation where the best of health care is available to all
- A nation where governance is responsive, transparent and corruption free
- A nation where poverty has been totally eradicated, illiteracy removed, crimes against women and children are absent and no one in society feels alienated
- A nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, devoid of terrorism, peaceful, happy and continues with a sustainable growth path
- A nation that is one of the best places to live in and is proud of its leadership Finally, today, with India emerging as a young nation, it is time we empowered these youth to chisel an economically developed India with peace and prosperity, which follows the path of sustainable development. This can be achieved only with righteousness in the heart. Let me explain.
Righteousness in the heart
Where there is righteousness
in the heart,
There is beauty in character.
When there is beauty in character,
There is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home,
There is an order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There is peace in the world.