A Dialogue with the Youth of Bangalore

‘Off with the old and on with the new’ is a very popular phrase in the English language. However, our ancient culture has a different take as underscored in one of our epics by this statement:

Shikhe Hum Bite Yugo Se, Naya Yug Ka Kare Swagat
Meaning: We welcome the new epoch of Young India by learning some tenets of the bygone one.

Modi ji’s speaks the truth on youth when he states ‘Youth ‘new-age power’, not ‘new age voter’ alone. Youth have changed the way India is perceived today. It is with this aim I accompanied by Shrimati Meenakshi Lekhi National spokesperson participated in a youth interaction event in Bharati Vidya Bhavan. The event was divided into two sessions:

In the first session, the moderator began by asking us our views on the Aadhaar program, which is operated by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Besides pointing out its contentious nature since this so-called national identification number assigned to residents of India is not a proof of citizenship, I reminded the audience of my statement in the Lok Sabha:

“If you cross the North Korean border illegally, you get 12 years of hard labour. If you cross the Iranian border illegally, you are detained indefinitely. If you cross the Afghan border illegally, you will be shot. If you cross the Saudi Arabian border illegally, you will be sent to jail. If you cross the Chinese border illegally, you may never be heard from again. If you cross the Venezuelan border illegally, you will be branded as a spy and your fate will be sealed. If you cross the Cuban border illegally, you will be thrown into political prison to rot. If you enter Britain illegally, you will be arrested, prosecuted and sent to prison and deported.

But, hon. Home Minister, if you illegally cross the Indian border, unfortunately, you get ration card, voter identification, passport, Haz subsidy, driver’s license, identity card, job reservation, special privileges, credit cards, subsidized rent, loan to buy a house, free education and one day he may get elected for Lok Sabha and sit next to you as a Minister of this UPA Government.”

The moderator then shifted the discourse to the significant sector of Education. I at that moment remembered how LokNayak Jay Prakash Narayan once said that the present education could make one foolish and useless. This is seen in the sad fact that many graduates are unemployed in this country. I reiterated the need of the hour is to put into action Swami Vivekananda’s view of nation-building education model. As per my information, only two models came close to the implementation of the said nation building:

1. Shri Vajpayee’s model: Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan guaranteeing education for all. Sitting in Delhi unlike the present administration Shri Vajpayee took steps to make sure Universal Education available to all.

2. Shri Modi’s model: As CM of Gujarat he launched eMPOWER on on 4th July, 2012 with the aim to train the youth in the field of basic computers and IT. Over 1.04 lakh youths had registered themselves for the program including 84% of youths from rural areas. Another program SCOPE was launched to make Gujarat’s youth proficient in the English language and help them secure jobs.

At one level, I feel personally that today’s youth is heavily burdened with this situation of arduous entrance exams each for specific courses in a University. At this era of Globalisation, we should learn from the developed countries and based on the GRE/SAT model of entrance exams taken by students so I concluded with stating my wish to have one umbrella entrance test for students.

Following the conclusion of the first session a Q-A segment was carried out where many important questions were posed by the youth. Personally I found one question asked by a youngster from Sakleshpur significant as of how to bring agriculture and modern education in the same level so as to ease it for the rural folks. I highlighted steps that were taken in that direction by Shri Modi in Gujarat, Shri Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh and Shri Raman Singh in Chattisgarh to accomplish just that. Another young man asked the basic question of how access to education for special children as well as children from financially destitute families can be emboldened to whose answer I repeated the Vajpayee model of Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan which guaranteed education for all. But at the present time this scheme needs to be followed by a dynamic structural change.

The next session was focused on National Economy and Security. It seems painfully ironic that the state of the national economy is in tatters even though the three leading members of the cabinet Dr.Manmohan Singh, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia and P.Chidambaram are economists. It is for this reason I prefer to call these three ‘Anarthshashtris’. I think the audience should be aware of how Economy and Security are dependent on each other. Hence issues like Naxalism , the stretch of red corridor and interference of Pakistan and China in the borders, not only threatens the country’s safety but also its assets. Painful irony strikes again that the leader of the nation Sardar Manmohan Singh is only leading it astray when the man he claims to be a quintessential Congressman Sardar Vallabhai Patel took steps to neutralize the threats our nation faced after independence. In addition, it is dangerous to see how the Indian rupee devalued to 30% higher than Bangladesh and Pakistan where it was up to 2 or 3%.

I concluded with Shri Vajpayee’s belief that our plan for economic progress should be aimed at such a situation when the Indian rupee becomes a worthy match of the US dollar.

It was then decided that the time of question is over and the need is now for providing suggestions in policy-making for the future Modi-led NDA Government. Now this was what the youth wanted and on being given the chance decided to share their insights and views on policy-making. I jotted down the ten most important ones with the promise that each of them will be conveyed to Shri Modi on the 13th of March. I wholeheartedly see this as the 1st step to usher in the power of ‘Young India’ .