"I Change, India Changes"

The India Today Conclave took place last week and while I was completely intrigued (and burning green with envy, that I couldn't witness it live) by most of the guest speakers, which included the likes of The Dalai Lama, Pervez Musharaff, Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar and my favorite Headlines Today reporters (gotta love that Rahul Kanwal), I was even more excited to watch the Youth Forum Session. Gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, young industrialist Prashant Ruia and Youth Congress leader Jitin Prasad all formed a panel which spoke about how the youth of India needs to wake up if India has to progress ahead and ultimately change. I was inspired, encouraged, motivated and ready to roll. Each of the youth icons spoke words of wisdom that I honestly, wish it was compulsory for adolescent India to watch it.

Bindra, who was treated to a standing ovation, was overwhelmed with the love he has received from winning India's first gold medal. But he then went ahead and expressed how one medal was not enough, "Would China be satisfied with one gold medal? Would USA or Britain have been happy ?" Food for thought. He then went on to say that while cricket is a loved game, it is unfortunately, not recognized on an international level. Additionally, he spoke of how politics needed to be separated from sports as each was not interconnected. India has the talent but it lacks the motivation and vision to look ahead. With great hope in his eyes for sport in India, he signed off by stating, "Change is inevitable. If you do not make changes for the better, it will be for the worse." Bulls eye.

Next in line was Priyanka Chopra and Farhan Akhtar who both hail from the entertainment industry but had completely different ideas towards change and the youth. Chopra spoke about how she watched Rang De Basanti and walked out of the cinema ready to change India, "I felt it running through my bloodstream. It lasted me 5 days. I’ll be honest. I forgot the sensation I felt at that time." Ditto. Farhan on the other hand went on to say that there were too many restrictions in modern day film making. The censor board was clearly making it hard as "Young filmmakers do not get enough independence to make a film," vis-a-vis Black Friday, Paanch and Jodha Akbar. Being a youth icon to millions in India, he dressed the part and spoke like a true rock star, "Youth has nothing to do with age. It's the way you think, your ideas, your outlook on life that makes you young or old." Rock On!

Prasad was bombarded with a bunch of questions later on but ultimately spoke of how the youth must reach out and make differences. They cannot rely on the name game, i.e. you do not have to be Gandhi to change India. You have to be yourself. Jai Ho! Ruia was literally outstanding. He refused to see the bad in India, and decided to look at the good and best which makes India, "We are the world’s fifth largest economy...a sovereign country and the largest democracy in the world...But look at it another way, our neighbourhood is consumed with terrorism, the recent events in Pakistan, the war going on in Sri Lanka, the recent mutiny in Bangladesh." Finally some sugar, if you ask me. It doesn't matter who changes India, it needs to happen, he summarized. Whether it's the youth or the elderly, they need to change it. Gotcha.

They spoke. I listened. But did the youth get it?

The forum's byline was, "Can The Young Drive Change?" I'm not sure why it was phrased rhetorical question to be honest. I would like to rephrase it, "The Young CAN and WILL Drive Change." Perhaps it's because I am blinded to the bad in India or maybe because I am such a patriot; either way I refuse to believe that India has a "self-obsessed' youth, as was repeated stated. That said, I also think the youth need more space to express what they want and more guidelines from the government on the constitutional ways they can get involved. They have no idea how to step up to the plate. Corrupt government officials shoo them away claiming that they are too young. But the fact of the matter is those very officials are nothing but a group of uneducated shrewd money eaters who are simply looking out for their own pockets and not the country. They do not care for India's tomorrow, they care about today and now.

There is a single problem. The youth are content with the manner in which India and its wretched system works. For example, they know if they get caught for speeding, they can whip out a hundred rupee note, hand it to the officer and zoom off. It is merely a matter of content convenience. Why on earth would they change anything about it? Now, if that officer, who is likely to be senior to them in age, would tell them to stuff the bribe back in their pockets, pull the car aside, pull out their license and registration and write them up, the youth would finally realize they cannot find shortcuts. Ideally, lock the fool up! A night in a cell will teach him and his counterparts a lesson or two. So it cannot begin with the youth alone, it must start at the top. This is essential to ensuring India's youth changes and feels the need to change.

Maybe it is the seniors of our country, who have allowed it to become what it should show more restraint when it comes to making the youth feel incapable and useless. It is under their administration that there is a dreaded system which cannot be broken. And now, they expect the youth to break the "trend." However, they have no faith in the youth which may explain why they youth have literally rolled their eyes and given them a "whatever" attitude.

All they have to do is provide a way for the youth, show some encouragement and watch how the youngster stand up, speak out and CHANGE. The youth change society, and this is a known fact.
Change has to come and it will. How and when, I don't know. How will I make a change, when will I do it, what will I do? No idea. But I don't think I will die not making a change, even small. "If I change, India Changes." And change, it will. 'Nuff said.

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