What Should Modi’s Speech Be at National Youth Festival

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Puducherry on 12 January 2022 to inaugurate the 25th National Youth Festival, organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. He would be addressing around 7000 youths of 18 to 22 years old from across the country, expectedly in his signature style. But what should be the real concerns that PM Modi needs to elaborate on this year to tackle the actual issues faced by the youth of modern India?

The National Youth Festival is an annual gathering of youth in India. The festival commemorates the birth anniversary of the youth icon Swami Vivekananda. It is organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in association with one of the State Governments. This year, the Puducherry Technological University has been chosen as one of the venues to conduct this festival. Since 1995, when the National Youth Festival started, the nation’s youth have heard numerous politicians’ speeches, which have sometimes been partly germane but many times extraneous to their necessities and beliefs. So, what topics do today’s young people want PM Modi to address?

1. Identity Crisis – Modern Youth Demand Respect

The modern youth demand respect but can rarely command it. In the Indian community, elders are, by default, owed respect simply because they are older. Youngsters are expected to show respect by touching their feet, not looking straight into their eyes while talking, and using proper pronouns while addressing them. Adults often forget that respect is two-way traffic – give respect and receive it back. Proving an adult wrong is also considered disrespectful in modern Indian society. Furthermore, the opinions of the young ones at home are very often dismissed or ignored because they are still wet behind the ears. What’s the scenario outside India?

Swedish Climate Activist Greta Thunberg gained fame in 2018 for starting a school climate strike movement when she was merely 15 years of age. Greta received much appreciation for her passion but even harsher criticisms from the ‘grown-ups’. Former US President Donald Trump posted a sarcastic tweet stating that Greta is “…a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future”, following Greta’s blunt criticisms during her UN speech. Similarly, she was labelled “a mentally ill Swedish child” by a Fox News Commentator.

Hence, we can safely say that this is a global issue. The young people of today demand respect as it is their fundamental right. They don’t want to be suppressed. They want to be heard. They want to participate in decision-making. They want to build their own identity. And remember, maturity doesn’t come with age but with proper values.

So, PM Modi, do you have any plan to give more voice to young people of the world’s biggest democracy, in and outside the Parliament?

2. Education vs Literacy – Modern Youth Want Knowledge, Not Read-and-Write Culture

Education is often confused with literacy, and the two terms are often used interchangeably when they hold distinct meanings. Literacy refers to reading and writing, while education means acquiring knowledge, skills, morals, and beliefs. An educated person might not be literate, and vice-versa. Literacy eases our day-to-day activities, such as reading road signs, prices and bills and counting money. Besides, literacy is solely the first step towards formal education. To get a diploma or a degree, one needs to be literate. However, other forms of education do not require a person to be literate. Informal education does not require a person to be literate. Such education is acquired outside of a classroom setting. It can be achieved through parents or mentors, experience, conversations, and exploration of interests.

Gone are those days when the role models of young people were, by default, their parents or teachers. Today’s youth face a massive crisis in identifying their role models in society. Even movie stars, tall business leaders and politicians are failing to grab the fidelity and trust of contemporary youth. India needs to reinvent its educational culture by focusing more on knowledge and skills. On this National Youth Day, can PM Modi elaborate on his plans to tackle this concern?

3. Social Responsibility – Rising Individualism Among Youth in the Indian Society

Every young person must be highly responsible for working and collaborating with others to bring positive change. In other words, they need to have a social responsibility, which plays a vital role in shaping youngsters into adults who actively work towards a better community. Individual social responsibilities include volunteering, donating, environmental awareness, and advocacy for up-and-coming issues.

In today’s technologically inclined society, youngsters have access to all information and resources, which broaden their insights on environmental, political, and social issues. This allows them to formulate their own opinions and responses. Newer generations are more outspoken about their views, mostly on social media. They have more awareness of the problems that plague society. Then, isn’t it time for them to actively raise awareness and come up with solutions?

Instead of only making every youngster sing the national anthem before a movie starts in the cinema hall, the Government needs to initiate small and straightforward steps to inculcate social responsibility in the daily life of every youth. Firstly, a sense of belonging should be cultivated among people because it is the people who make a country a nation.

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