Speech of Hon. Speaker at the Workshop on Giving Voice to the Youth: Mechanisms for Ensuring Effective Participation of Youth in the Governance Process, during the 63rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1-8 November 2017
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is indeed a privilege and an important opportunity to be a 'Discussion Leader' at the Workshop on ‘Giving Voice to the Youth: Mechanisms for Ensuring Effective Participation of Youth in the Governance Process.’
Our ancient Indian texts are a rich source of wisdom and inspiration. I would like to quote a Shloka from Bhartrihari's Neetishatak (Hkr`Zgfj uhfr'krd)
”उत्साह सम्पन्नं अदीर्घ सूं क्रियाविधिज्ञं।
शूं कृतज्ञं दृढसौहृदं च लक्ष्मी स्वयं याति निवासहेतो।।“
(The Goddess of wealth comes all herself to stay with a person who is enthusiastic, not lazy; knows how to work; one who is not interested in bad habits; brave, grateful & consistent gratitude.)
When we talk of making efforts for effective participation of youth, I strongly believe that, it should happen in an organic manner. We need to enrich their process of growing up and facilitate connect with societal ethos and practices and that connect, as one may find, would be have a natural outcome. There is little doubt that youth hold a great promise to each nation but we need to work with them for enabling their effective delivery.
In this context, first and foremost, I feel we should make additional efforts to expose our youth to their immediate surroundings and reality – reality around them, reality within the country and, of course, beyond borders, around our immediate neighbourhood.
All great leaders, and I feel all citizens, should try to explore their own connect with culture, economy and people-centric processes. This would strengthen the process of naturalization. When Mahatma Gandhi came back to India from South Africa, our great leader and mentor of Mahatma Gandhi, Shri Gopal Krishna Gokhale advised him to tour across India and enrich his understanding of our people. This opened Gandhi ji to a world, he had limited knowledge of.
This, in fact, was continuation of an old practice in India when students had to be sent with their Gurus for education. Even Buddha had to be out in open for deeper connect. It was with this idea that Rabindranath Tagore thought of Santiniketan, for young minds to be in touch with environment with the core concept that learning be a part of natural growth.
Surroundings and realities bring in greater appreciation for different cultures, different ways of life, exposes to the idea of pluralities and beauty of different colours.
This exposure while would bring in the value of ‘One World’ in their minds and thoughts, it would eventually make them great citizens of their own countries. This context setting would be essential, as today’s youth have greater exposure and access to information than in earlier times, due to information revolution across the world. Idea of ‘One World’, would help us
channelize their exposure but with information experience is very necessary.
We all are aware that the Commonwealth perceives young people aged 15-29 as assets to a country’s development, who should be empowered to realize their potential. We, in India, share the Commonwealth vision and stand committed to comprehensive and constructive engagement of youth in all realms of activity.
'लालयेत् पंच वर्षाणि दश वर्षाणि ताडयेत्। प्राप्ते षोडशे वर्षे पुत्रे मित्रवदाचरेत्॥' (This means the child should be pampered until the age of five and may be disciplined until the age of ten. Once he reaches the age of sixteen, however, he should be treated like a friend.)
According to Indian Philosophy, human life is believed to comprise of four stages. These are called the 'ashramas' and every person should ideally go through each of these.
Up to 25 years of age, the first Ashrama is 'Brahmacharya' or the Student Stage, where you learn knowledge, know things and get skilled.
From 25 to 50 years, the second Ashrama is 'Grihastha' or the Householder Stage, where you work, earn and take care of your family.
The third Ashrama,50 to 75 years of age is 'Vanaprastha' Stage, where we dedicate ourselves for serving the society and to do worship.
The Fourth Ashrama, age 75 and above is 'Sannyasa' Stage, where you worship, and advise for the betterment of the society.
India is one of the youngest nations in the world, with about 65 per cent of the population under 35 years of age. The youth in the age group of 15-29 years comprise 27.5 per cent of our population. In our country, we have the National Youth Policy, which was re-launched in 2014. I would take this opportunity to highlight that Participation of Youth in Politics and Governance is one of the key priority areas of this Policy.
Emphasis is being laid on the need to ensure that the youth participate in politics at all levels, from the grassroots to the national stage. Youth participation is envisaged by contesting elections and by holding political positions as well as by casting their votes in elections. Since 1985, we in India, celebrating 12th January, the birth anniversary of our legendary scholar and freedom fighter, Swami Vivekanand as the National Youth Day.
The policy for youth to enter politics should be such that the youth can participate in an easy manner. The Policy recommends that the Government Departments should have vibrant ‘youth connect’ programmes.
Our Government, through the Policy has in fact, laid a lot of emphasis on actively associating the youth in the governance and development process, i.e., in the policy formation as well as implementation. We have the Department of Youth Affairs, which specifically formulates policies for the youth, gives them support and channelizes their energies into creative endeavors. The philosophy stems from our firm belief that through young people's motivation and engagement alone, citizens can become a more energetic and organised voice. Youth are the engine to take the vehicle of family, society or nation forward.
Friends, to initiate our youngsters into our democratic traditions from an early age, our Department of Youth Affairs has been organizing Youth Parliament Programmes at Block and Village levels across the country, with active involvement of prevailing recognized youth clubs. It has so far organised 25,624 Block-level and 51,861 village-level Youth Parliament Programmes. Our Government has launched the National Young Leaders Programme with the objective of developing leadership qualities and service motive among the youth.
For us, economic empowerment of youth is a prerequisite for any policy, framework envisaged to ensure their effective participation in the governance process.
Under the guidance of our Hon'ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, the Government has launched path-breaking initiatives i.e. Skill India to train people in different skills and Start-up India to boost youth entrepreneurship and encourage job creation. Till July 2017, our Government through its flagship scheme has trained more than 3 million candidates across the country in the past two years. We envision that our leaders of tomorrow would emerge higher from the skilled workforce of our villages where India lives and flourishes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Besides having enacted legislations that have touched and transformed the lives of our youth, our Parliament itself has evolved to attract youth to our democratic traditions and practices.
Study Visits for young students, scholars, academics and others in order to provide them requisite orientation on the role and functions of Parliament have become a regular feature. Since I launched Speaker’s Research Initiative (SRI) and Speaker’s Fellowship programme, we also revitalized Speaker’s Internship Programme. The response from youth is quite impressive. More than 100 interns have undertaken training in our Parliament. Our Parliament has also provided training and guidance to Parliamentarians and the Officials, from across the world through Bureau of Parliament Studies and Training (BPST). Our present House of People, Lok Sabha has largest ever young Parliamentarians.
I would like to suggest that to encourage more participation of youth in Politics; Training & Discussion in Youth Parliament is very useful. Towards making policy for more participation of youth, we must also think about how to reduce the cost of election process. Smooth, Smart and Low cost elections are necessary.
Taking all these things in to considerations, we must give way to Youth to express, to develop skills, to build competency, and to acquire confidence, because investment in youth is insurance for future. So we must share our views, experience and best practices to give them voice and make them part of good governance.
One thing is sure, we have to give this message of Swami Vivekanda to our youth, “ Arise! Awake! and stop not until the goal is reached.” With these words, I once again thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my views as the Discussion Leader.