By Aadil Fahim, Manager – Communications, Branding & Volunteer Development, AFS India
“We all are busy in getting good grades in school or university or working hard for better promotions and better appreciations in our career and other aspects of our lives. We are engaged in our own world which we’ve worked so hard to make and develop. Each one of us are occupied to achieve our own goals irrespective of age and background.
If I have to think of Indian youth in this scenario, we need to start reflecting on their priorities and goals. According to the recent UN report, India has the world’s largest youth population. In 2017: State of Youth Volunteering in India, it’s been shared that 60 percent of Indian population are under 35 years of age and 41 percent below the age of 20. While we’ve so much of youth population in India, it is time to give much significance to the increasing need of preparing them to be the future leaders with improved life-skills that can help them create a developed India. With the implementation of new strategies in the empower Indian youth by government and other stakeholders, we also have to start thinking of the ways the youth can influence and use their time and energy by involving themselves in the field of volunteerism along with their work. With volunteering, they not only will bring change in their community, but will bring change in their personal and interpersonal levels giving them skills of 21st Century.
According to the SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2017, India ranks 116 out of 157 Nations. Each country were evaluated on the basis of where they are in terms of showing progress mentioned in 17 Sustainable Development Goals. As per Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, “The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be an indispensable platform for building a better world. The various concepts that lie behind this ambitious agenda will together provide the engine for progress – the need for a defined vision, the importance of multistakeholder partnerships, the emphasis on accountability and measurement, and the acknowledgement that environmental, social and economic goals are interconnected.”
If we want to create a developed India with positivity, we need to start addressing the underlying issues and challenges that exists and help reach India move up in the SDG Index. We must implement new approaches of engaging our youth in giving back to the community. Our youth need to focus their energy towards not only their goals, but also towards participating in activities that can help them create a stronger socio-economic and cultural background.
Having seen many volunteers working for different cause while working with AFS for over a decade, I realized that the time you start to give back to the community or start working towards a cause, you’d have plethora of experiences and these experiences change you for good. It gives you energy to move forward with the power to see the world with different perspective. It also makes you empathetic which in turn helps you discover the world seen by others in their own unique way.
The impact stories and experiences mould you and help you gain the values you couldn’t have while studying in the classroom, cramming the black and white text books or being busy chasing your career. It’s a completely different experience – an experience that makes you reflect more on humanity.
We at AFS India, provide plenty of opportunity to our volunteers and other stakeholders to give back to the society and to make a difference. Throughout the year, we’ve several projects and activities that our volunteers and other stakeholders plan, develop and implement in their own chapter (city) which in turn shows the change at grassroots level. Our volunteers take another step to become a Change-Maker and a Global Citizen. Not only they are working towards creating a just and peaceful world, but they are also setting an example of how to give back even though you’re swamped with own priorities and commitment.
I believe each one of us, irrespective of the age, should reflect on the importance of giving back. If we can make it as one of the life-goals, we all can have a rewarding experience. Find a cause you’re interested in, and start working for it. Don’t wait for anyone as I believe we all have the potential of becoming change-makers, and we all have the equal responsibility to bring change in the world for a better tomorrow.”