- 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.”
The young generation is the foundation of any nation. As none of the buildings can survive without a strong foundation, a nation can also not survive and progress without a well-qualified, efficient and dedicated young generation. The youth, if provided right motivation and opportunities, can transform any country into a superpower. However, it is not possible without their being filled with a spirit of national integration.
National integration actually means combining all the people in the country into a single whole and bringing them on one platform. It is a sentiment that makes us proud of our heritage and it binds all people in one common bond. The progress of any nation depends on its youth who share the significant responsibility of taking the nation on the path of harmonious growth. They should rise above all differences of caste, creed, religion, and language to live up to the spirit of national integration.
The Role of Youth in the Promotion of National Integration
Great deal of progress has been achieved in many directions in our country, but the youth of the country must be aware that the spirit of unity sometimes faces grave challenges. Forces of separation and fanaticism threaten to destroy the cherished ideals of one country and one people. Often passions are inflamed in the name of language, region and religion and loyalty to caste and community is given priority over devotion to the motherland. A sense of alienation prevails at many places in the country such as Kashmir and the North-East.
The wounds of the Partition of India that took place in 1947, refuse to heal even today with Pakistan always trying to destabilise the peace and harmony in the country. There have been frequent riots between various communities with negative consequences for the unity and integrity of the country. In the light of all these challenges, the youth of the nation are required to understand the true meaning and need for national integration. They need to counter the forces of conservatism, regionalism, ethnicity, casteism and communalism that are obstacles in the way of national integrity.
India being a vast country, its citizens are divided into a number of castes and sub-castes, and on the basis of different languages. Moreover, India is the home of people following different religions like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, etc. All across the country, the people are made to be divided on one basis or another. For the progress of the nation, unity of thought, action and mutual brotherhood is very essential and the youth of the country can contribute greatly in strengthening national integration.
The Youth should take up Leadership Roles
Almost 66 per cent of India’s population is young and so their role in national integration is vital. We have a long and rich history of the contribution of young people in the freedom struggle. However, today corruption is rampant in the corridors of power and most political parties seek to thrive by dividing the country on the basis of caste, creed and religion. It is here that the youth have to take a lead by taking the membership of social and political parties in large numbers to provide the right kind of leadership to the country.
How to foster national unity among all the people is the most critical issue. In this backdrop, national integration is a tool that can help save the country from falling into the hands of the extremists and fanatics. The youth, who are the future leaders, have a pivotal role to play in the national integration. The massive young power can do wonders provided their energy and enthusiasm are harnessed for development work. The strength, power, and capability of youth should be utilised to meet any challenge to national unity and integration.
Spirited young men and women of the new generation can play a great role in the socio-economic regeneration of the society. If the ideas, thoughts and idealism of the youth are channelised in the right, it will make the task of national integration easy and the future of the country will become brighter.
The aim of youth should be, to put the country on the road to progress and prosperity, and eradicate the ills that afflict the society. And in this stupendous task of ushering in a new era of hope and happiness, everyone has a distinct and clear cut role to play, like a cog in a machine.
The need of the hour for the youth is to realise the challenges before the country. They must not blame everything on the politicians or the powers-that-be, and sit silently. They must show the right kind of initiatives for removing all obstacles in the way of fostering national unity and integration.
The Role of Tech-Savvy Gen Next in Promoting National Integration
The integration of any nation undoubtedly depends on its youth. After all, they are the one who carry the onerous responsibility of handling matters concerning national interests. As far as national integration is concerned, they are required to work towards curing all the ills preventing unity among the citizens of the country.
Fortunately today they are today armed with various effective social networking tools which they can use to spread awareness towards national integration. The Gen Next with the advent of new technologies is very well informed and highly approachable compared to their peers. It helps them communicate their aspirations and support cutting across physical barriers of caste, creed, distance, race, religion etc.
Being young, they already have the required spark to ignite the fire in every mission they wish to undertake and national integration is one of those. Swami Vivekanand rightly said,” Young persons are like steel or stone. They can break rocks. So youths should rise, awake and never sleep before they achieve their target.”
If the youth of today start working unitedly and tirelessly, then the nation will move ahead with the required pace on the path of progress. The integrity of the nation is only the result of integrity of the youth. If the youth works as a cohesive force, then our nation will be transformed into an ideal and a most progressive country in the world.
“The Gen Next,” as the youths are identified, is the backbone of a nation and so they should leave any orthodox, partisan or narrow mentality behind to maintain national integrity. They should understand that they belong to one nation and that they may be Biharis, Bengalis, Punjabis, or Gujratis, but ultimately they are all Indians.
Need for Mass Social Movements to Strengthen National Integration
Today’s youth may appear a bit impatient, but at the same time, they are more adaptable, open and ready to work. A classic example of youths making difference in matters of national integration can be the organisations such India against Corruption which was started by veteran social crusader Anna Hazare. Just after the organisation got kick-started, it created one-of-its-kind movement which saw overwhelming participation of youth.
Youth must play a significant role in the achievement of the long-awaited national integration in a bid to restoring or engendering peace, justice, stability and moral rectitude in the society. To promote national integration, it is essential for that the country’s youth identify themselves as Indians and not as simply persons belonging to different religions or castes. The youth need to have adequate awareness. As the young people of the country would determine the future of the country, more and more young people should assume responsibility of maintaining unity in the country.
The role of youth in achieving the desired goal of national integration can be to bring forth fresh ideas that can be formulated into policies towards curbing religious fanaticism and biases regarding cast, creed and community.
Let all the youth, in whichever part of the country they live must put united and collective efforts strengthening the hands of the Government to overtake all impediments affecting national integration and to pursue willingly all strategies which help promoting national integration.
Every Indian youth should follow the saying of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Following it, most of the proud youth can set example for others by making efforts towards promoting national integration. They should continue their efforts towards national integration thorough positive and healthy dialogues, responsible behaviour and caring attitude towards one and all.
To promote national integrity, they should collectively celebrate religious festivals such as Diwali, Christmas, Eid, Guru Purab, etc with equal joy and happiness. Young people can show their right attitude and positive spirit towards nation building through their attitudes and actions and set an example for others to follow.
Need and Challenges to National Integration in India
National Integration Essay
National Integration Day
National Integration Week
Speech on National Integration
Slogans on National Integration