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The Ocean in a Drop

A Perspective on Youth Development: Creating Ownership of Common Spaces

Have you put your drop in the ocean today?
 “You must do your bit for society”

 But the truth is that despite all our efforts, the ocean only looks further depleted

India growth story …
 The Government talks of a 8 -9 percent GDP growth year on year for the last three years  We are the second fastest growing large economy in the world  We withstood the 2008 meltdown remarkably well  We have the second highest number of billionaires in the world on paper
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But are things as rosy as they look?
Depends on the lens you wear….

 Our development indicators show a downward trend

 As a result a million mutinies rage in different parts of the country and the constitution is under daily threat.

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How do we interpret this dichotomy?
 The origin of the two divergent stories of India, we believe, lies in the lenses we have viewed youth with in the past  Once upon a time in the 1940’s…

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How were youth viewed during the independence movement?
 Sample this: A 40 year young Jawahar Lal Nehru was chosen to head the Congress Party in Lahore in 1929. Gandhi said…

 People heard Gandhi’s call and society not only legitimized but actively promoted young people’s participation in the movement

How were youth viewed during independence?
 Our primary and secondary research has shown there was a thriving youth scene in the 40’s

 The huge context of the freedom movement played a critical role in drawing in young people

How many youth showed up to sail the new ship?
 Youth (between 25 and 40 years) in the Lower house of parliament ( Lok Sabha) were as many as:
• • 26% in the first Lok Sabha in 1951; 32% in the second Lok Sabha in 1956

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When did we turn the youth into passengers rather than crew?
 Slowly the number of youth participating in civic affairs began to dwindle
 So much so that in the 2009 Lok Sabha youth (25 to 40) representation had drastically reduced to 6.3 % from a high of 36% in the 2nd Lok Sabha in 1956 Click here to view graph  Other indicators too show a decline of participation of youth in the democratic process and common spaces

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Age wise representation in Parliament
60 50

%

40 30 20 10 0 I II III IV 25-40 V VI VII VIII IX 41-55 56-70 X XI XII XIII XIV 71-100

BACK

Lok Sabha number
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What happened? When did we drown out the youth voices?
Our research gave us some insights:
Representation of youth in the 40s was high but youth were kept out of governance right from the beginning

As a result the average age of the first cabinet ( the governance team) after independence was 54 years! Remember 26 % of the Members of Parliament were between 25 to 40 years
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What happened? When did we drown out the youth voices?
.. And by 2009 the average age of the cabinet had gone up to 62.7 years !  The current Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs is 73 years. The Prime minister 78 years... They are highly competent, still it’s something to reflect upon...and compare with narratives of other countries

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Country
India USA

Head of State
Manmohan Singh Barack Obama

Age
78 49

Avg age of cabinet
64 58

Avg age of population
26 37

UK
China Japan Italy France

David Cameron
Wen Jiabao Naoto Kan Silvio Berlusconi Nicholas Sarkozy

43
68 64 74 55

50
61 59 54 56

40
35 45 44 40

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If you approach the ocean with a spoon, won’t it appear to be a drop?
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Isn’t it the ocean in the drop we should have focused on?

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So, where is the youth narrative headed?
The economistic lens:
 By 2020, India is slated to become the youngest nation (average age 29 years). We are poised to reap a demographic dividend

 If this increased cadre of youth were productively employed and they displayed good consumer behavior, it’s true our GDP could see an unprecedented jump, as been seen before in the case of Canada, Ireland among others

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The economistic lens:
 Youth through the economistic lens : ‘lets build skills to make them productive workers and good consumers’ National Skills Commission Booming Livelihoods sector Education policy  According to this view youth are poised to write a new glorious chapter in India’s growth story

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So, where is the youth narrative headed?

The “Problem Solver” lens:
 Youth are clients for development interventions: ‘they have problems that we need to address’
 Youth are seen as prime abusers of drugs, sexual misconduct, or engaged in other delinquencies  Many narrators lament the declining values and increasing self centeredness of youth
 Others claim there is a type of youth who do engage with the world but their actions are misled and their energy destructively focused
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So, where is the youth narrative headed?
The “Instruments of Social Change” lens:

 Youth for development: ‘They have resources (time, energy, skills) that we can use to achieve development goals’  Many religious organizations feel youth can become their core cardre for spreading the message  Political organizations expect youth wings to assist in elections and governance processes

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The “Instruments of Social Change” lens:

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So, where is the youth narrative headed?

The “Youth Development” lens:
 Youth for youth’s sake: What do youth in India want? What are their needs, intentions and desires? What are their hopes, fears, and futilities? • Let’s develop processes that are youth centred and focus on developing their leadership potential • Let’s make waves in the ocean in their heads and hearts

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The “Youth Development” lens:

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How do we program a youth for youth’s sake strategy?
For that we need to know which spaces do youth typically occupy or hang out it either by their own volition or due to societal pressures

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What are the spaces that society legitimizes for youth today ?
Family
5th Space

Friends

Career and career related studies Leisure and
lifestyle

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What is the Fifth space?
 Pravah began talking of a fifth space instead of active citizenship to denote a space that connected the self to society  Our greatest insight was about the word ‘to’ viz. the connection of the private self to the larger world and the learning obtained in exploring this connect

 It’s probably the most critical question that human kind needs to answer – ‘The foot feels the foot when it hits the ground’  Still the fifth space lies on the margins of societal awareness with its potential of transforming the self and society largely unexplored  We seem to have forgotten the lessons of the independence movement when the Fifth Space was in the centre
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How do we mainstream the 5th space now?
 To be a good human being you have to be an active citizen, but it need not be true the other way around” – Aristotle  The focus should be on self transformation as much as on transforming society  Build on three key aspects of:
 ‘Self’ ,  ‘Relationship and leadership skills’ and  ‘Society’
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How do we mainstream the 5th space now?
Family
Career and career related studies

Friends

5th Space
Leisure and lifestyle

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Inward Bound: Me-Self inventories and Who Am I sessions

Youth Adda Cafe
1. Catalysts: Action Research and Volunteering
4. Learners: Workshops on Self, Conflict Positive, Leadership
2. Alchemists: Youth clubs

3. Advocates: Campus events

A visit to a 5th Space experimen tThe Pravah SMILE program

Orientation

5. Internships: with hinterland, national, international NGO’s/ movements

Feedback

“Refl-action” Workshops

Facilitators for 5th space

1. Catalysts

A call for volunteers

Volunteering
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2. Alchemists

Music club in action - Music for Harmony Annual Festival

Street Theater Club in action


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3. Advocates: Campus Events

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4. Learners

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5. Internships

VSO YFD volunteers in Manthan Jharkhand

SMILers at Beej Bachao Andolan Utrakhand

VSO GX volunteers in SWRC Tilonia

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Series of postcards from SMILE Interns used as posters

Ban the Bulb Campaign Ban the Bulb campaign

6. Social Entrepreneurs

Grassroot media facilitators Grassroot start up organization on youth dev

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What are the principles that will nourish the 5th space?
 Co create the design, ownership is the key
 Put well practiced un-biased facilitators in charge who support the young to reflect and act  Take young people from what they know to what they don’t

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What are the principles that will nourish the 5th space?
 Action is required to be taken to learn about the self and the world and in the best traditions of experiential learning reflection must precede and succeed action. We call this process – ‘Reflaction’.  Pay attention to the ‘sifat’ the characteristics of the space
 Encourage trust  Enable young people to ‘hang out’  Enhance entrepreneurship and connect them to sustainable market models and processes.  Provide opportunities for ‘cross border’ engagements  Make it fun, joyful AND transformatory
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What are the principles that will nourish the 5th space?
 The voyage is long and we need to recognize that.. we shouldn’t think of these as short term projects with well defined goals as society has become used to doing.  SMART goals are particularly difficult to identify but all the same we need proper markers, without them we can get lost. Since this work, by its very nature, has elusive destinations, qualitative impact and frequent set-backs, …measures we must have.. For ourselves, all stakeholders and mostly for youth to assess for themselves their development and their contribution to social change at the same time.
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The Ocean in a Drop
 The last geographical frontier on earth today is the deep ocean..  It’s a good metaphor for the ocean in a young persons mind..it’s time this exploration is undertaken with greater depth  To transform ourselves and the world

Let’s heed what the youth of every generation tell us

Share Credits
 All of Pravah personnel, youth and partners over the years.  Key Concept developers : Arjun Shekhar, Meenu Venkateswaran, Kamini Prakash  Illustrations : Smita  Thank you Brian, for vauable time and energy for contextual inputs for this conference  Oxfam India for it’s partnership in the research project  SRTT, VSO, The Ford Foundation, Misereor,Asha, Global Fund for Children, CWS. Current supporters of our youth program