As it stands today, half of India’s population is below the age of 25 and close to 65% below 35. That puts India firmly ahead of other Asian countries when it comes to the question of demographic dividend. Add to that, India with an average age of 29, will be the youngest country in the world by 2020.
But are we really ready for the incoming tsunami of youth-driven change and aspirations? Are our youth ready to take on the role and responsibilities of a majority population? Or are we just selling them a dream without giving them the necessary skills they’ll need to lead this change? It is nobody’s case to argue that in spite of having such a large youth population, we still don’t see their effective participation and involvement in the democracy. And it is not because they don’t want to. Just look at the composition of India’s Parliament as an example. As per reports, young India has MPs in the age group pf 56-70 representing them.
Clearly, the need of the hour is to have more young people getting involved in the functioning of this democracy and if they are to be the next generation of changemakers, the time is now to give them the skills for it. And one man, has made it his mission to do just that.
Gaurang Raval, started his organization Sauhard which means Empathy, back in 2011, to facilitate the journey of youth like himself from “self to society to state”, as he puts it. Through a specially curated Fellowship, and multiple workshops and community-based activities, he is enabling youth in state of Gujarat and elsewhere to realize their own potential and become actively involved in changing things around them. From ground work like voter-registration mobilization to creating a safe space for young people to articulate and understand the various threads like secularism that make up the fabric of a democracy, he’s helping build the next generation of India’s changemakers.
Driven by his own personal transition from a person who believed in the idea of ‘tit-for-tat’, today, post his experience of the 2002 Gujarat riots, his work is enabling India’s young leaders be ones who think critically and are sensitive and sensible human beings.
And in such young leaders lies the hope for change not just of India, but of the world.
Gaurang Raval is an Ashoka Fellow and part of a network of leading social entrepreneurs bringing transformative change in society. To know more about Ashoka, head here.