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Revitalizing the Young Nation: Fulfilling Swamiji's Vision

In April 2023, India overtook China to become the world’s most populous nation changing the global demographics for years to come. With this news making the headlines in major newspapers, came all sorts of perspectives and speculations about what it entailed. Talks about earning our rightful place on the world stage by leveraging this population to discuss of challenges this demography brings rampant. The reality is that India has one of the youngest populations in the world with the Indian government stating that more than 55% of the population is below the age of 25 and more than 60% of the population is in working age between 15 to 60 years of age.

Me being part of this largest population of youngsters of India, I could not help but think about Swami Vivekanand. He was one of the first in India to understand that Young ones will bring justice to India’s destiny. He proclaimed “IF I CAN GET SOME YOUNG MEN OF HEART AND ENERGY, I SHALL REVOLUTIONIZE THE WHOLE COUNTRY”. He had faith in us. Today, if asked the question about youngsters of 2024 doing justice to his expectations, he would have smiled whimsically.

Why? The readers ask. Let me explain.

Yes, we are the youngest among the major countries in terms of average age and we could just become a wonder economic success by reaping the demographic advantages. Still, it would not be what Swamiji wanted for us as a “Vishwaguru” India. Swamiji wanted India to be a spiritual, moral, economic, social, and political success with holistic development of the country’s citizens regardless of age, caste, gender, religion, and region. Are we there yet? So, where are we at in Swamiji’s scale of becoming ‘Youth that India needs.’

Nowhere near. Today, the youth is struggling with multiple calamities. From internal to external, we need to overcome our faults. Drugs, materialism, lack of education, intolerance, corruption, violence, abuse, and lack of principles have infested Indian youth for a long. To become the young men and women of “heart and energy” that can revolutionize India we need to revolutionize ourselves first.

For India to become an economic powerhouse the foundation needs to be laid by focus on improving the Human Development Index. For this, Education and Health are the key. India ranks 132 out of 191 countries in the HDI Report 2022. We need to understand that education is not just literacy but the enlightenment of the soul by knowledge. Investment in primary education is a must for holistic development from the start, promoting debates and discussion helps in the simmering of ideas among youth.

Coming to health, where will we get energetic youngsters if they are not getting the correct quality and quantity of nutrition? From the beginning, it is important to take care of our bodies.

We are a country where Yoga was invented. Let’s do justice to this legacy and build an environment of healthy life. Energy comes from a healthy mind and body. At the same time, success will only come when access to health and education is uniform and well-rounded.

No one should be left behind.

Swami Vivekanand was himself a youngster when he charmed the Western world with his revolutionary speech in Chicago. It was a religious convention, with all religions of the world present. Swamiji brought Indic philosophy to the world stage and gave the message of love and peace among religions. India in itself is a melting pot of religions with Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, tribal religions, and many other sects cohabiting and influencing each other’s philosophy. What Swamiji wanted was a youth which will see beyond the differences of religions and apply rationality to the orthodox ideologies of the past to bring changes.

What we are seeing today does not align with that idea, the seeds of intolerance and suspicion among youth and an “Us versus Them” mentality are creeping in India. These suspicions turn to violent outcomes like rioting, mob lynching, desecration of sacred places, terrorism, and hate speeches. Which again ferments the animosity among different communities. What revolution will we be fighting for together if we cannot stop fighting each other?

In the social realm, one major problem is the drug menace, a cancer that eats up the potential of youth and leaves them a shell of what they were before. For a small moment of pleasure or a fleeting sense of ecstasy, youngsters fall into this trap of intoxication. Countering intoxication comes as a priority. In recent decades Punjab has become the hub of drugs and illegal arms and this is spreading fast to other states.

Another difficulty is the position of women in India. Women make up half the population of India, thus approximately half of India’s youth is also female. Sadly, women have suffered centuries of discrimination, humiliation, and brutality at the hands of social organizations. Almost every day, women are raped and abused in India, and some culprits are our youngsters. A nation that does not respect its women is doomed to fail. Outraging modesty of a woman makes them vulnerable in work and social space hindering half the youth’s potential.

Politically, the maintenance of democracy is a feat in a diverse country like India but what lies ahead? With the majority of voters lying at young ages, politicians try to play with the emotions of youth and foster majoritarianism, regionalism, linguistic and ethnic parochialism, and religious extremism.

What amazes me is how even learned youth sways in these currents and forgoes the real questions of economy, safety, security, equality, liberty, and fraternity. Our choices become parochial and we lose out the “heart” for change. The courage to raise our voices. For countering these negative aspects of religion, society, gender, and politics- the answer lies in spirituality, rationality, and morality. Some may find this combination a contradiction in itself. It is not, a spiritual journey takes the mind to rationality. Let our youngsters search for the truth of Humanity without the shadows of religious dogmas and societal stereotypes. Swamiji promoted this search for truth which brings to the conclusion that God is everywhere, in everything. This realisation promotes understanding and kindness among humans and nullifies friction.

A crucial suggestion or a trick from me as a youth myself is self-introspection and self-improvement meeting an intelligent person in this world." When you self-analyze your day it increases the chances of realizing your mistakes and what better way of explaining revolution than the word -improvement.

In this self-analysis, the “self” also includes the society and nation we reside in, with looking at society with a critical eye we find out our faults as a society. Humans tend to merge with the environment they live in and therefore the longer one resides in it we become impervious to the faults of society. Here come the young minds, with their curiosity needing just a push they will bring out the fire to extinguish the flaws and light up the reason in people’s minds.

Building a moral character will also be detrimental to the country’s well-being. Morality persists even in times of peril. There is no other way of reform than morality. For example, after the Nirbhaya case of 2012 massive protests happened in the country for increasing the capital punishments against rapists, and laws were made to deter the criminal with fear. Fear failed to change society and women and children face abuse daily in India even today. Isn’t it pathetic that what we think stops crime is not abhorrence to violence as a principle but ‘fear’ of punishment? If we inculcate principles among our children it will be far more consequential to fight the evils of society.

For the Revolution to come, the masses will play a more important role than the government. Young minds of today will become parents tomorrow and the cycle will continue. A law made today will be irrelevant tomorrow but the morals and righteousness inculcated in today’s youth will surely be passed on. Laws cannot save us, morality, spirituality, and rationality can. This trinity when applied will give us men and women of heart and energy, these men and women will write history walking on the path of revolution. India will rise and roar with the youth leading us to the heights of the sky. Swami Vivekanand once said “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached” This will be the mantra for us. We will become from simply youth to the youth that India needs and we will have the “heart to initiate changes” and “energy to bring justice to the will of our hearts”. When we achieve this level of commitment to ourselves and our nation, then only Swamiji will truly laugh in appreciation.

This article titled 'Revitalizing the Young Nation: Fulfilling Swamiji's Vision' India's demographic shift as the world's most populous nation, highlights the potential and challenges faced by its young population. Swami Vivekananda's vision of a holistic India with spiritual, moral, and social success is contrasted with the current struggles such as drug abuse, materialism, lack of education, intolerance, and corruption. The article emphasizes the importance of improving the Human Development Index through education and health while fostering spirituality, rationality, and morality to create a better future. The writer calls for self-introspection and character-building among the youth to achieve Swami Vivekananda's vision of a harmonious and just India.


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