The sense of responsibility that flows from the statistic is overwhelming. By 2020 an average Indian youth will be aged 29 years. This would be the lowest in the world. And India will have a surplus youth population of 47 million. The average age of the Indian youth is expected to be 29 years by 2020, the lowest in the world. For the same year 2020 world will experience a shortage of young population by around 56 million.
In other words India will become the youth hub of the world. Then what we will do? We can provide cheap labor – however glorified- to the world. Or we can become the pioneers of global change. For the former all we have to do is run the educational institutions as we run today. Bereft of creativity, conditioning the minds to become mechanical automatons, ultimately lacking the ability to think, enquire and empathize – we can create an army of youthful zombies for world corporate who would need toiling young bodies and brains. Or we can create youths who would take the responsibility of transforming the world into a better place with more freedom, more care and more love. To create such a youthful global leadership the educational institutions should dramatically change the way they function and teach. Education should be seen as a great tool to set the human intelligence on fire – in terms of quest for truth as well as justice.
For the last three centuries Indian educational institutions have become completely colonized. The indigenous educational system – the proverbial beautiful tree- had been systematically destroyed. The indigenous educational system valued local knowledge systems and was a great vehicle for transmitting this traditional local knowledge system to the coming generations. Once the local knowledge based roots are cut off, the children were taught to devalue their own cultural roots. Swami Vivekananda pointed out this negative feature of our present day education:
A negative education or any training that is based on negation, is worse than death. The child is taken to school, and the first thing he learns is that his father is a fool, the second thing that his grandfather is a lunatic, the third thing that all his teachers are hypocrites, the fourth that all the sacred books are lies! By the time he is sixteen he is a mass of negation, lifeless and boneless.
The result is that we lack originality. With the loss of originality we can be good obedient laborers, glorified corporate slaves, or even thinking slaves to ideologies that are fashionable in the global context. But we cannot be original thinkers and hence original leaders of thought or community. Yet the coming years will demand from the youth thought leaders. The educational system needs to be revamped at a war footing to create a network of local leaders in every discipline – from physics to psychology; from sociology to nanotechnology. These youth leaders should be domain experts with their roots well anchored in local traditions and problems. Once educated Indian youths start evolving our own indigenous models and tools to solve our problems, whether they are social or ecological, psychological or technological, India will become a strong base for quality youth force that will be sought after by the world community for solving their problems. Swami Vivekananda envisioned this long back:
Each one of you has a glorious future if you dare believe me. Have a tremendous faith in yourselves, like the faith I had when I was a child, and which I am working out now. Have that faith, each one of you, in yourself — that eternal power is lodged in every soul — and you will revive the whole of India. Ay, we will then go to every country under the sun, and our ideas will before long be a component of the many forces that are working to make up every nation in the world. We must enter into the life of every race in India and abroad; shall have to work to bring this about. Now for that, I want young men… This is the time to decide your future — while you possess the energy of youth, not when you are worn out and jaded, but in the freshness and vigour of youth. … Rouse yourselves, therefore, or life is short. There are greater works to be done than aspiring to become lawyers and picking quarrels and such things.
Creating the quality youth power that will take over the planet’s future has fallen on the shoulders of India. We cannot shrink away nor fail this historical opportunity. The current budget focuses on the youth aiming to transform them from ‘job seekers’ to ‘job-creators’. The scheme to enhance ‘the employability of rural youth’ which is also considered ‘the key to unlocking India’s demographic dividend’ has been rightly named after the great indigenous thinker and nationalist Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay as ‘Deendayal Gramin Kaushal Yojana’ and Rs 1,500 crore has been set apart for this scheme. If we succeed in creating such a self-confident, rooted, national youth power by 2020 then we can be rest assured that the coming century from 2020 shall be that of India’s. It will not be an empire of commercial exploitation or religious expansionism. It will be the empire of the mind and soul. India will be a great harmonizer validating the diverse spiritual and cultural traditions of humanity and through the age-old process of Samanvaya India will make planetary humanity achieve its full potential. As historian Arnold Toynbee rightly pointed out decades ago the only way left for humanity to survive and flourish is by adapting the Indic civilization – not in outer form but through its core values. Indian youth in the coming years shall be the cultural and spiritual ambassadors of the Indic values. The question is then have we made our educational institutions take up this mighty responsibility of the coming years?