By Sharukh Vazifdar March 2010 In today’s world age isn’t a barrier to how far you can go. Youth can accomplish anything once they set their minds to it With the pace of life speeding up, youngsters, who can easily adapt to and lead these changes, find the cards in their favour. Today, the young symbolise change, innovation, positivity and a pure mind not twisted by the ‘shoulds’ and shouldn’ts’ of a one-track ideology. With over 40 per cent of India’s population under the age of 35, and a similar figure worldwide, this stratum of society is just learning to harness its power that has been lying latent. Often branded as rebellious or inexperienced by those older than them, it is from this passion of youth that genius develops and talent is uncovered. Albert Einstein, undoubtedly one of the greatest scientists to have lived, came up with his inspirational theories while in his late 20s. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the social networking site, Facebook, started it while still a student at Harvard University. Bill Gates started Microsoft and oversaw the creation of the operating system Windows all before he was 30. The field of sports has always been the domain of the young. Lewis Hamilton, who has won championships at Formula 1 and three other racing levels; Michael Phelps, who has won 14 Olympic gold medals and has broken 37 world records in swimming; and Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter and three-time Olympic gold medallist are all under 25 years of age. The UN Programme on Youth’s most recent report, the World Youth Report 2007, reviews the progress and challenges in youth transitions to adulthood and suggests clearly that although youth face a number of challenges as they try to make the transition into adulthood, many are determined to succeed and are using varied approaches to ensure their survival. They are not a passive group waiting for resources and opportunities to be handed to them. In all regions, they want to make a better life for themselves. An engineer friend of mine recently mentioned how pleased he was that in just about a year’s time of working, he had managed to earn as much as his father on an annual basis, while having only touched the tip of his growth trajectory. Is it just about hitting the jackpot earlier on in life, or could this exceptional drive be directed to finding a deeper meaning? A combination of both is the likely answer, but there is no denying that the passionate enterprising youngster is more prominent now than before. Entrepreneurship is the next big thing after the alluring and promising managerial job. In a surprising move, every year more graduates are opting to start their own businesses rather than opt for a job. “I always believed in self-employment as it gives me the opportunity to do what I am best at,” says Sasikanth Chemalamundi, a BITS Pilani graduate who has started Habits, an edutainment company in Hyderabad, and was nominated by Business Week in the list of Asia’s best entrepreneurs under the age of 25. The Guwahati-based Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship’s student capacity has been steadily increasing every year. From 120 programmes with 3,500 participants in 2003 the numbers increased to 155 programmes with 5,300 participants in just three years and is still growing steadily. Another prominent and noticeable fact is that most social NGOs, social welfare groups, or environment protection organisations have over 80 per cent of their force under 30 years of age. Not drawn to the comforts of a well-paying job, nor caught in the drudgery of the rat race, these young minds know that a good way to live their life is by helping those around them. They know the importance of educating and getting children off the streets, protecting the mangroves or saving the tiger. While all of us are aware of the importance of these issues, many choose to look away. Youngsters don’t, or rather can’t. They can’t see their future crumble away before their eyes and sit helplessly by. They can’t bear witness to the destruction of their hopes and dreams for any amount of money. Dreaming on: Sasikanth Chemalamundi A key factor in all this is the opportunity. Education has changed drastically in the last 30 years. Various new fields of study and career have emerged or been made more accessible. In various different avenues from writing books to starting a singing career to researching on ultra-modern space technology, youth have shown that they are capable and ready to take on the challenge. The internet revolution started off a domino of jobs and career options, not just in the technology field, but in areas as farflung as sports, humanities and arts. The internet has shrunk the world, enabling one to know and do so much more. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the social networking site, Facebook, started it while still a student at Harvard University While youth may see themselves as the bearers of tomorrow, surpassing the dreams and goals of today, it is only their wisdom that can guide them along the right path with humility. In Isaac Newton’s words, “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” If the youth have made significant headway into all spheres of life, it is only because the older half of society has seen them worthy of it. Once started, such a shift can only gain momentum as it goes ahead. With more opportunities coming their way and youth promoting themselves, creativity, ingenuity and growth are in for a boost. Rahul Bhandula, a 28-year-old entrepreneur from Delhi, left his high-flying job which included business trips and vacations across the globe to start his own real estate agency. Rahul says, “I did my BSc, MSc and MBA expecting a happy settled life, but after two-and-a-half years of hard work all I got was longer working hours, which made me very irritable and snappy. I realised that I could live a healthier and more peaceful life if I started something on my own. Being fascinated by land since I was a child, real estate was the best bet. Now I go for a vacation abroad once in two years, enjoy what I do, and have enough time for my family.” With bright minds like Rahul and Sasikanth acting out of wisdom and not fear or greed, the future looks promising. Somehow, somewhere, the head and the heart seem to be balancing themselves.
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