The following is the first hand experience of Nikhil Pant, REACHA, after his visit to IIT Roorkee to attend a Symposium that led to REACHA’s involvement with the Bharatbandhu Forum.
It was quite an experience for me at the National Symposium: YOUTH PARLIAMENT, at IIT-R on 10th and 11th Feb 06. The topic was:
"Has Indian State succeeded in meeting people's aspirations?
If yes, up to what extent?
Otherwise, what are the reasons behind its failures?
What alternatives do you visualize and how do we get them? "
I was visiting an engineering college after almost 15 years – I did my B.E. in Civil from NIT, Allahabad (previously, Motilal Nehru Regional Engineering College – MNREC) in the year 1991. It’s been a long journey since then – through the thick and thin of life. The two days at IIT-R brought back all those years – 4 to be precise – in a surge of nostalgia. But I am keener to jot down my observations at the meet. So here goes:
· The organizers did a great job. But the real work starts now!
· Many participants were there purely for the competition; few really wanted to become the torch-bearers of a national resurgence.
· Most spoke like our present crop of intellectuals – well read, well informed, fully aware of the problems.
· Few had real ground-level, grass-roots’ practical solutions to suggest. I don’t blame them for it. Nobody is there to show them the way how to go!
· Few wanted to commit to real action – now and here!! Again, I don’t blame them. They have few success stories to emulate or be inspired from. Infact, their lack of commitment again reminded me of our present crop of leaders and politicians.
· And one even suggested that he did not have the time!
· I felt very sad and hurt. Sad, because I was oblivious to this state of affairs amongst the youth of the nation from such elite institutes as the IITs, NITs, Law Schools, University Colleges, IIMs etc. If this is the level of confusion, I thought, in these institutes, then what about the youth in the villages of India? What about the youth on the streets of urban India? I felt ashamed. Guys like me are to be blamed the most because we are in this work for 15 years and never once did it occur to me that I should talk to the youth. I felt I was doing my bit by sensitizing the school/out of school kids, and through them their parents. I thought this was enough from my side. But, now I realized that there is no point in working through little kids if my work doesn’t continue into college. 4-5 years of confusion in college is bound to wreck all that might have been erected in school. Also, I realized, again for the first time in my life that as school kids we all at least have the tutelage of our parents. But when in college, we become distant from our role models – parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts etc. Parents feel relieved of successfully delivering their duty of getting their child into a good college. Many would also be talking about it with a lot of pride in their peer social groups. But what about the collegian? He seeks guidance from where? Guys of my age (I am 35 years old) are busy counting their packages, politicians are making merry, bureaucrats don’t have the time to listen (one has to really appreciate the DGP for spending so much time with us) and activists like me are unaware. This made me feel really, really hurt. Was I not sitting in front of the ‘orphaned’ youth of the nation? Morally and spiritually orphaned! And, what the hell have I done about it?
· So I returned with a strong resolve – to do something about it.
· Whatever little I know I will share with anyone interested. So, do write to me if you feel an urge deep within to ‘connect.’
· The 21st Century will be a time for constructive Public-Private-Peoples’-Partnerships. Each will gain from the others’ domain of excellence.
· Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is going to play a major role in development.
· The govt system represents the welfare state (Public), the corporates represent the surge of responsible capitalism (Private - CSR) and the grass-roots voluntary organizations/NGOs represent the ‘felt needs’ of the community that provides the nuts and bolts of effective social dynamics producing constructive results.
· Partnerships will ensure a check on corruption too – there would be just too many watching you if you have dicey ideas!
· The need for Continuity – nirantartaa – would be paramount. There is no point in holding lectures, seminars, workshops, symposia etc if these are not followed up with concretion action plans – that are practically workable on the ground.
· Knowledge sharing has to be ‘open source.’ Goodness and selflessness cannot be copyrighted! There must be a free flow of information amongst all stakeholders to peace, happiness and growth for the nation and also the world.
· Work should speak rather than the mouth. The media should be drawn towards this work due to market forces that will compel it to showcase it! Because, only goodness will sell. Can the youth work towards such ‘work?’
· The campus Youth Forums need to be galvanized into action.
· These forums need to connect to local grass-roots’ work – NGO/govt/voluntary/CSR*** through Volunteer Internships (VI).
· Such socially sensitive forums need to network nationally, and later internationally, with other such forums through the ‘open source’ model.
· www.bharatbandhu.net (BBN) is one such network. All are welcome to join.
· BBN will function as a loose federation of these youth campus forums. It will not have any hierarchies, and would be characterized by internal flexibility.
· A social journal will be evolved by BBN, showcasing the good work going on all over the country/abroad.
· BBN/youth forums can take up advocacy on issues that concern us locally, at the state level, nationally as well as internationally.