NRi YOUTH IN INDIA
NRi Project Overview: South Asia is home to one of the largest and fastest-growing youth populations on the planet, with 33% of India’s population between 15 and 35 years old. In India, a growing democracy with a complex and diverse society, the challenge is to ensure that this huge cohort becomes a vibrant, constructive force that can address social issues and create a more just, equitable and peaceful world. Rather than see young people merely as a passive recipients of services and consumers, it is critical to recognize them as change agents who have the energy, passion and creativity to make a significant contribution to society while also building their skills for the future. India’s dependency ratio is expected to decline sharply in the next 30 years giving it a demographic advantage over other countries. Given this scenario, there are a few key questions we need to address: how can we prepare young people so that they can lead meaningful and successful lives? How do we build the capacities of young people to become leaders for social change, improve their communities and impact issues of social justice?
Experiences around the world, including India, have shown that youth civic engagement and active citizenship is an effective strategy for promoting youth development and leadership for social change1. In India, promising youth development and active citizenship models are in place but there are few instances of collaborative efforts between the different stakeholders. Developing the field further in South Asia requires a structured approach that builds the capacity of policymakers and practitioners to develop innovative approaches to youth development and civic engagement. There are several key stakeholders in India working with young people on issues of concern to them. These stakeholders include the Indian Government through the National Youth Policy 2003 and national youth service schemes, such as the National Service Scheme and the Nehru Yuva Kendra Scheme. Donor agencies, the private sector, universities and practitioners (non-governmental organizations) are also working on youth issues, such as education, livelihood, recreation, health and life skills. In order to encourage further investment and build the capacity of young people to become leaders for social change in India, Innovations in Civic Participation (NRI) Society and the American Center have try come together to host a national consultation in March 2012 on youth development and active citizenship in India.
1 Youth development is defined as “an ongoing process through which young people attempt to meet their needs and develop competencies they perceive necessary for survival and transition to adulthood.” A key component is active citizenship, i.e. developing young people as active citizens, i.e. enabling them to make their own decisions and to take responsibility for their own lives and communities.
The consultation will be helded at the Habitat NRi Centre in Bhopal during March 3-4, 2012. Designed as a listening space to understand different perspectives on youth development and civic engagement, it will bring together international experts and key stakeholders, including government officials committed to strong youth policy, leaders of high-performing youth development programs, heads of educational institutions and representatives from the private sector. It will engage participants in a dialogue to explore the needs of the field, highlight innovative models and approaches that address these needs, and develop a framework for creating a more supportive environment for youth development and active citizenship. A parallel youth track is also planned so that youth perspectives substantially inform the consultation.
Objectives of the consultation:
To engage key stakeholders in a dialogue with a view to a) clarifying key concepts and understanding the need to invest in young people as active citizens; b) sharing information about existing models and innovative approaches to youth development and active citizenship; c) identifying opportunities and challenges faced by young people and organizations working with young people; d) identifying the needs of the field; and e) developing a framework on how we can address these needs in the future.
NRi, registered in 2010, is based in M.P.. It works to build leadership for social change through active citizenship and youth development interventions. NRi builds with and in youth respect and understanding of citizenship, attitude of ownership for common spaces, skill of leadership for social change and behaviors to develop strong relationships as the foundation. After a decade of intensive work with individuals, it expanded its portfolio to include teachers training, incubating new initiatives and facilitative work with other organizations working on youth development and together with these partners advocate for youth development and citizenship action.
NRI, Plan to Start based in Washington, DC, is a global leader in the field of youth civic engagement. NRI’s mission is to facilitate the generation of opportunities for young people to improve their communities and build essential skills for future success through civic engagement. NRI works with individuals and organizations around the world to support the development of innovative approaches to two civic participation strategies: national youth service and service learning. NRI grew out 10 years of experience in designing programs and policies and building networks that result in many more young people being given the opportunity to engage in civic activities. Since 2010, the team at NRI has worked to expand opportunities for tens of thousands of young people throughout the world to engage in service.
The NRi recognizes the potential role of young people as change agents. The non-profit sector response to constructively engage young people with issues of the underprivileged and marginalized has been sporadic and
scattered. There is need for well-designed, inter-linked focused spaces to sensitize youth to the underprivileged and encourage youth action in development. The Trust initiative addresses this challenge and is structured at the following levels: (a) direct action programs to generate learning from field action and (b) common platform and networks that bring these projects and other youth-focused organizations together.
The NRi has provided substantial support to this consultation. The NRi Center presents a broad range of activities promoting professional, academic and cultural relations between the people of India and the United States. It represents the American Embassy vis-à-vis the Government of India in official business related to education and culture. The office provides funding for and administrative support to the bi-national Fulbright Commission, established in 1950 and now known as the U.S. India Educational Foundation (USIEF). The Center supports programs and exchanges which allow Indians and Americans to share ideas and experiences on diverse issues. The American Library at the Center is a circulating and public library offering membership to the residents of the eight states in North India. It offers a wide range of resources and services. Its mission is to provide timely, reliable and comprehensive information on contemporary American politics and government, economics and trade, foreign affairs and defense, the rule of law, human rights and the environment.