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A social revolution

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Naressa Coutinho finds out why youngsters nowadays are more socially aware and active…

The past few centuries snowballed an entire tribe of Bohemians and mavericks; but of the young philanthropist who also sprung up alongside, few have heard.

Indeed, if change be glorified, it’ll be because our young citizens, who in high feathers serve the nation, in extraordinary ways. Earlier, teenagers were known to care little for the affairs of the nation and for community service. However, now we see a changing trend defined by a more conscious youth who have channelised their energy towards the needs of their society. Let’s find out why?

What has kept Prashant Chari still associated with the Mumbai Rotaract Movement since the last six years? “It was fun; organising events like cricket matches for the visually challenged with the added perks of building a wide network of contacts and strong relations much needed from a career perspective,” replies Chari. Apart from academics and sports, college students are now inclined towards bringing about a social change because it does matter!

“You need to be in the system to change the system. I know  you can’t change the world but at least a few people around you and for that you don’t only need to work with an NGO, in fact just by saving water and electricity at your home or work place is a blessing in itself to the society,” says PhD student Suyog Marathe, currently helping out at Maharogi Sewa Samiti by collecting funds for leprosy patients and setting up camps  like Mini Shrama Sanskar Shibir  to bring development to the villages, thereby ennobling Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘go to the villages’ mantra. When he speaks of the late social activist Baba Amte in such high praise, it shows of this young man’s dedication to society.

Still wondering what motivates them? Well, Surbhi Praveen Bachhawat, TYBA,  St. Xavier’s College, part of the change makers conclave and director of the International Year of Youth 2010 launch and  United Nations ‘World Health Day Walkathon 2010’ expresses her keenness for social work perfectly when she says, ‘COMMonUNITY’ defines community for me. When one extends his world beyond oneself, starts considering social elements, and feels a sense of responsibility towards and concern for them, he can be called socially involved”.

Working on a project close to her heart - ‘Development Induced Displacement’ she passionately spoke of how caste system an integral part of the Indian culture has no place in the life of the poor man because he can’t afford to believe in it as the fear of his home been bulldozed repeatedly is overwhelming and the crux of his worries.

Through college’s social service programs, leagues, camps etc. students are continuously being exposed to realities of life. Is it the lack of performance on the side of the government that frustrates the youth or as the District Rotaract Representative Harikrishnan Pillai believes, “The youth today, being aware of their rights harbour this selfish need to be a part of crafting society that they live in, all for a better tomorrow.” The apathetic situation can only be best described by these students themselves when they speak of crushed dreams of social equality of the poor who now idolise social activists like Medha Patkar; or even how the eldest member of a village in Rajasthan touched the feet of Vivek Kotak and his friends who were left dumbfounded, after they lit up that village as a part of the Chirag Project. “I’ve never seen students like me go wild with enthusiasm to do community service and honestly just the motivation from each other is enough to get the youth going. Satisfaction from this kind of work is more than getting full marks in your exams,” says Vivek a BMS student from HR College.

It’s important to note that most of the teens tend to emulate their peers and so an army of socially involved youth will automatically be formed because of these few students. Already, Surbhi’s younger brother, studying in 12th has created a Facebook page for NGOswhere, which has already attracted 12 well known NGOs. Such brilliant initiatives only tell of a brighter future.

Most of these students give credit to the heightened awareness through the various media houses that help them channelise their urge to do something for the society. “Many avenues have now opened up, letting us identify with the cause closest to our hearts. Being a part of CRY, I was drawn to the problem of mouth or oral cancer that left many kids orphaned and so I joined SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco). I even got a good response from my peers who quit smoking even if only for the month during which we conduct our SWAT programs.” says Merissa, a postgraduate student from EMDI Media and communications.

A wish reiterated constantly by the media, political parties, international conventions and organisations and non-profit organisations - Let the next-gen take over, is one that will only be realised by the youth themselves because it’s the initiative that makes a difference. Perhaps they have taken another Gandhiana to heart: ‘Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress.’


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