About National Youth Project
The vast and multidimensional country India has often been described as “a rich country with poor people!” It has glorious legacy of rich history, minerals, forest and other natural wealth, beautiful rivers and mountains and talented citizens. The country still suffers from some shortcomings that are eating into the very vitals of its glory.
The country’s youths who are the future citizens, are naturally concerned with state of affairs in their country. During their discussions, they have identified some priority problems :
• Forces that intentionally and unintentionally are causing the disintegration of the country.
• Widespread violence, criminalisation of politics.
• Corruption in public and private life.
• Economic and social disparities.
• Poverty, unemployment, over population.
• Superstition, ignorance, illiteracy.
• Gender discrimination.
• Environmental problems.
• Drug addiction, alcoholism.
In 1970, some youth workers met at the Mahatma Gandhi Seva Ashram at Joura in the once dacoit affected Chambal Valley in Madhya Pradesh. (The Ashram had played host to hundreds of notorious dacoits (bandits) surrendering to Gandhian principals). The consensus was that the one force that can help to build India free from these shortcomings is the youth of the country. Hence the need for a youth Movement that is free from religious, linguistic, regional bias and from prejudices of political ideologies.
The National Youth Project As in many other countries, thousands of youths came out with dedication and sacrifice to join the struggle for freedom and the motivating force then was to free their country from foreign rule. The motivating force for the youths now to join the movement should be to free their country from shortcomings. Activities that will help build the ‘espirit-de-corps’ among the youths include community work for the benefit of the needy, all religious prayers and learning each other’s language for national integration. Youths will have other activities devoted to the process of making a family of youths belonging to all religions, regions, languages and political thinking.
The movement launched under the directorship of Dr. S.N. Subba Rao was named National Youth Project (NYP).
In the same year 1970, three N.Y.P. camps were organised in the Chambal Valley, and young men and women came from all parts of India.
N.Y.P. organised youth camps and other programmes in many parts/cities of India such as Nagaland , Manipur, Sikkim, Ladakh, Lakshdweep, Andaman, Bhagalpur, Aligarh, Bombay, Godhra, Kanpur, Nakodar and other riot affected places. Padyatras by these youths in the affected areas are found most helpful in bridging the gulf between people.
The youths could establish that in spite of differences due to religion, caste, language or status they could live together and be friendly to one another, bringing forth living meaning to the spirit of “Unity in Diversity”. After their experience in the NYP camps the youths themselves felt that their life became more meaningful when they participated in nation building activities. NYP has been conducting about 10 camps in a year. They are : National Integration Camps, Communal Harmony Camps Literacy Camps, Relief Camps for victims of riots, earthquake etc. Women’s camps, Camps for Management Course, South East Asia Friendship Camp.
Profile of N.Y.P. Camp
On an average, there are 250 to 500 young men and women in a camp. Some Camps were of 2000-4000, and the one at Kevadia, Gujarat in which N.Y.P. collaborated with other youth organisations, the number was 23,500 and they worked for planting tree on the mountains. The camp routine is like,
• Wake up early morning and sing the youth song
• Work in community on a select project 2 to 4 hours
• Learn each other’s languag 1 hour
• Talks and discussions 1.30 hour
• Play games suitableforIndia 1 hour
• Exchange talents with other 45 minutes
• All-religions prayers 45 minutes
• CulturalProgrammes 1 hour
• Village visit during the camp
• Camps are usually for 8 to 10 days
Camps On Wheels
For the first time in the history of mankind an experiment was made to inculcate Sadhbavna (goodwill) among the various sections of people, utilising youth power and carrying it on rail tracks.
Under the inspiring leadership of its Founder President Dr. S.N. Subba Rao, National Youth Project launched, a camp on wheels was organised in collaboration with the Government of India. Young men and women from 26 states of India and few from outside, speaking different languages, having different religions and cultural background with different political views and coming from different strata of society, toured the length and breadth of this vast country, covering 21 states. They lived 12 months in the Special Train as members of one family, transcending all differences. Their mission was to spread the message of love, peace, friendship, communal harmony, brotherhood of man and world peace. The Goodwill mission was a grand success, and more than 70 lakhs people received the message. It was welcomed by all religious and socio political groups, District Collectors, business houses, educational institutions including 33 universities and large number of governmental and non-governmental organizations. Peace Councils (Sadbhavna Parishads) were set up in many states as follow up work.
Transcending geographical barriers. NYP has expanded its family to countries like America, Canada, U. K., Germany, Israel, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal and has been working for international understanding and world peace. 2009 was the 26th year of NYP conducting camps in America, An Asian Youth Camp was organised in the second half of May, 1999 at Lucknow.
Though over the years the N.Y.P. has conducted hundreds of camps and other programmes and more than 3,00,000 youths have benefited, the organisation has very few whole time workers. The real strength of the movement is the many dedicated workers who volunteer time for every programme. Because we envisage a movement spread all over the country, it can be done only through a band of dedicated workers, who work for the love of the mission and not for getting financial gains. These workers include college professors, peace researchers, school teachers, lawyers, social workers, business persons, housewives, freedom fighters and many others. Some retired personnel are specially helpful. Retired persons can render big service to Mother India by joining hands with the youths in constructive work.
An Important Need
In our country, as also elsewhere, normally the whole governmental machinery comes into play once violence occurs. But what is needed is to create an atmosphere in the country and in the world so that no such situation occurs at all. The youths after going through camps are trying to establish ‘Sadbhavna Samitis’ in villages and mohallas (localities) in towns. Citizens also could take the initiative to constitute ‘Sadbhavna Samitis’.
A minimum programme that Sadbhavna Samitis could do is to organize at least one all-religions prayer meeting every month (say on full moon day).Then, they could organize religious festivals of all religions in public, inviting people of other religions also for the programmes. In case of natural or man-made calamities youth force has shown to be most helpful. The need today is to have hundreds of youth camps and other progrmmes.
The 1 % Scheme
Huge as India’s problems are, the solutions also will have to be on a massive scale. Many patch-work plans have been tried, they seem nowhere near solutions. Hence this unconventional proposal by the N.Y.P.
The Government of India have partly supported many of our progrmmes. They support some other youth agencies also. But what is the total amount spent on programmes that help channalise our youth energy for Nation building activities ? It is the youth who become terrorists or maoists or fought communal riots. Then the administration uses the police and the army. It will certainly be cheaper to turn youth energy for constructive activities. From this angle, youth work is no less important than defence work. Youth camps require money but N.Y.P. proposes a plan that will not cost any extra money.
At any moment, the counytry has thousands of on-going projects : road or railway buildings, tanks and canal digging etc. As was done at Kevedia, let every project earmark a meager 1% of its budget for youth involvement. The youths will work on the respective project for 4 hours.
In the day campers do sharmdan at least for 2 to 2.5 hours and devote the rest of the day for talks, songs, games etc. that will charge the atmosphere that will inspire the labour and others also to work more earnestly. It can be a boon to the country. Thus money spent for youth participation will be much more than repaid.
If only directed to nation building activities, our youth energy can be a great potential, but the kind of films, literature etc. (government media included) that dominates our social life today, has been forcing our youths into ways of violence, drugs, smoking, drinking. Is it not high time that our youths should get a better deal from us, the government and the people of India ?
Youth Culture / Yuva Sanskar
NYP Trust publishes a quarterly News Bulletin, “ Youth Culture” from its Delhi Office.
NYP has its headquarters in Mahatma Gandhi Seva Ashram, Joura-476221, Dist. Morena (M.P.) National Youth Project Trust was registered under Public Trust Act in 1992 and the registered office of the NYP Trust is at New Delhi.