“Youth”, the great American writer F Scott Fitzgerald had famously said, “is a dream, a form of chemical madness.” Imagine what India can be if it can harness the tremendous power inherent in that dream and madness. As National Youth Day dawns on us, please bear in mind that 35% of the country’s 1.2 billion population is below the age of 20, and by 2050 it is expected that over 325 million people in India will reach the working age. As Europe and America grapple with an overwhelmingly ageing population, India stands to reap the demographic dividends. It can be the epicentre of growth only if it creates a conducive atmosphere for its youth to prosper.
In all eras, youth has been the harbinger of change. Today, youngsters are at the vanguard of the anti-corruption movement. They have turned out in large numbers on the streets demanding strict laws to deal with rapists and molesters. These are strong signs of engagement powered by the zeal to turn a nation — run by old, tottering politicians — around. Without youngsters, it is impossible to envision a bright future for the country as only they can realise India’s aspiration of becoming a super power.
The country needs to make way for the youth. The first step in that direction is to embrace their ideas, value their opinions, and involve them in nation-building. Are we afraid to cede ground to them, fearing the prospect of being consigned to obscurity? The laws of nature dictate that the old step aside to make room for the young. The time has come. Let’s not delay the inevitable.