Only 12 August was designated as International Youth Day by the UN General Assembly in 1999. This day is an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as the torchbearers of change. It has been the United Nations endeavour to raise awareness of the challenges and hardships facing the world’s youth and to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community. The full and effective participation of youth in society and in decision-making is one of the 15 priority areas of the UN that also include include: education, employment, poverty and hunger, the environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, leisure-time activities, health, girls and young women etc .
In India, youth have contributed in the country’s transformation since times immemorial. The youth involved themselves in the fight for the country’s Independence, various social reform movements as well as social actions in the recent times. According to estimates the current proportion of population under 25 years in India is 51% and the proportion under 35 is about 66%. This predominance of youth in the population is expected to last until 2050, with the average age of an Indian in 2020 expected to be 29 years. By 2020, India is set to become the world’s youngest country with 64 per cent of its population in the working age group. With the West, Japan and even China aging, this demographic potential offers India and its growing economy an unprecedented edge that economists believe could add a significant 2 per cent to the GDP growth rate.
We at Red Cross believe that youth are our greatest power and hold the utmost potential and capacity to accomplish humanitarian work. We train youth to be icons of help. Our branches spread all over the country, bring youth under the umbrella of Youth Red Cross, volunteers and First Medical Responders. As we have experienced in the past, disasters of Uttarakhand landslides and aftermath of the Phailin cyclone, our volunteers and FMRs helped the affected population in manifold ways. Since the FMRs belonged to the communities that were involved in the disasters, they were the first ones to reach the victims and offer them first aid, psychosocial and other support.
The youth participates with great enthusiasm in the blood donation drives conducted by the Indian Red Cross Society across the country both as blood donors as well as community advocates. Our Youth volunteers are also involved in various health programmes, door to door dissemination of information about diseases like TB and Measles, fighting against social stigma and discrimination, issues relating to hygiene and sanitation, first aid etc. The various branches of the IRCS motivate the youth right from the higher secondary school and college level.
And yet there is a lot of latent potential that lies untapped and unused. On the occasion of this International Youth I would like to call upon the youth of the nation to take their rightful place in India’s growth story and act as the backbone of the populace. The youth of our country need to be to be committed and more focused participants in the humanitarian field. The community needs its youth as active participants in developmental and relief activities. With their energy and enthusiasm, none of India’s problems can remain unsolved.
Dr S P Agarwal
Indian Red Cross Society