There is a crescendoing clamour for change from the youth. But who are the role models that the 20 somethings are looking up toIJ Saatvik Jha tries to find some answers at the Delhi Youth Conclave
“I was never good at much while growing up. Everyone had that one thing they were exceptionally good at in school, but not me. Till I discovered advertising and subsequently, FM Radio, a voice in my head would tell me to run at every challenge I encountered, be it science in high school, unconvering an ambition in college, or going through with MBA.” A product of India’s evolving economic landscape, Sharat Bhattatiripad was the last speaker for the day at the Delhi Youth Conclave (DYC).Now a life coach and vice-president at Fever 104 FM Delhi, Bhattatiripad was born to a middle-class family in Bhopal. Sharat’s story traces how he found himself enjoying professional success at 41. Never have been outstanding at anything while growing up, he struggled with MBA, transitioning eventually to advertising management. He worked in advertising without any ambition till he discovered private FM radio in Bangalore. He began working in the radio industry at 27, and has ascended swiftly since. He attributed this to having trusted his instincts to uncover where he’d flourish, and unendingly asking himself where his passions lied. His life philosophy was illuminating. “Your intent determines your opportunities” he says, emphasising the importance of being selfless and giving openly to others.
A powerful speaker, Sharat was one of the inspirational voices at DYC. Each speaker was, indeed, equally worthy of being deemed a role model for youngsters. India is a country with countless aspects to it, and a story to each. Some facets of India stand out as marvellous examples of a prospering nation, others as problems to be remedied. A thirst for change shakes the country, with droves of young people eager to effect this change. “In 30 years, today’s youth will be running India. We wish to establish a platform for the youth to look up to.” These were the first words Devir Singh Bhandari, day-chair of DYC, had to say about the event. The conclave was conducted as a series of speeches and moderated discussions, each of which was covered by emissaries of different Indian professions. Vivacious, engaging and brimming with colourful asides, RJ Rahul Makin of Fever 104 FM served as anchor for the event. He introduced every single speaker with the charm of a seasoned radio jockey, executing his job so effortlessly that he even found the spare moment to expound upon love. Rahul couldn’t have carried the event more gracefully. The RJ gave way to the guests of honour for the event, General VK Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, alongside Paralympic Athlete Deepa Malik, shot put silver medalist at the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games. General VK Singh opened the event with words of inspiration to the youth. The general urged youngsters to make every positive change within their ability, asserting, “All change begins with the youth.” True to his generation, the general-turned-politician ended his speech quoting a poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, “lehron se dar kar nauka paar nahin hoti, koshish karne waalon ki kabhi haar nahin hoti.”
Pioneer of Himmat, Delhi Police women’s safety app, IPS officer Sanjay Beniwal was the keynote speaker for the event. Officer Beniwal’s speech was an anecdotal journey into the virtues he has learnt to practice over the years. He extolled the merits of reading in keeping the mind well-oiled, imploring the youth to “read every day, and read something different from what relates to your work.”
An inspiring anecdote relates to his graduation from the IPA, where his superior is said to have remarked, “Whether you’ll be a good or bad officer can’t be helped anymore. You’ve become what you were meant to be. Your focus should now be on being a good person.” This is critical advice for youngsters in a country whose broken education system produces lakhs of graduates with sub-par skills, annually. Such a system can give rise to an arrogant confidence in one’s abilities for those who excel on its parameters. This pride often deflates into festering insecurities upon entering the job market and failing to meet expectations, thereby inhibiting productivity. A tonic to this equation of arrogance and subsequent insecurity is humility. Exuding humility from the moment he took the stage, Officer Beniwal advocates being humble for us all.
The policeman discussed the importance of prioritising one’s family, before moving on to talk about his work with the Delhi Police. Aware of the deficiencies in India’s criminal justice system, Officer Beniwal decided to create alternatives for youngsters at-risk. Working in collaboration with the NSDC and the CII, the Delhi Police has launched YUVA, a skill development program for youngsters aged 17 to 25. Said he,“Instead of police stations being a place to fear, we have transformed it into a haven for young people who wish to do something lawfully productive with their lives. They can now walk in, enroll in the YUVA program and after months spent acquiring industry-relevant skills, walk out with a government certificate recognising as much.” Officers like Sanjay Beniwal are a beacon of hope to India’s ailing youth.
Some inspirations come from within the government. Others present themselves as part of the private sector, fulfilling roles essential to the functioning of any democracy. Journalist and prime-time news anchor for India Today, Rahul Kanwal was next to take the stage. Calm, clear and one who speaks with conviction, Kanwal noted that it’s difficult to be a journalist these days. He contended, “The job of a journalist is to speak the truth, not to be swayed by one’s political ideology or bias.” Many contemporary journalists tend to add their own slant to the news they present. On the converse, journalists tend to be labelled in accordance with their ideologies. He spoke of the urgent need for journalists to develop a commitment to their job, rather than taking sides. Kanwal observed how a culture of taking sides in news-creation and news-consumption led to the formation of echo chambers before the US election — people received only the news which appealed to their ideological biases, an anathema to the cause of transparent journalism.
The young journalist exited the stage to a shower of applause followed by a panel discussion on ‘Gamechangers’. While capable icons within the system are individuals to be cherished, the hallmark of a capitalist society is that one can become an important part of the system for work that is uniquely their own — thus changing the game. True to the notion, ‘Gamechangers’ featured four entrepreneurs each with their own startup. Trishneet Arora, 24, is a high school drop-out and CEO of TAC Security, his own cybersecurity firm. He discussed the abounding potential of cybersecurity as the industry of the future. Ishita Anand founded BitGiving, India’s first online social crowdfunding platform. She elaborated on the fulfilling nature of her work. Each non profit organisation funded through her platform is contributing actively towards positive social change. Chirag Jain is CEO of Get My Parking and an IIT Madras graduate. His advice to budding entrepreneurs is to “pick up small problems, build a niche around them, and solve those problems.” Kanika Tekriwal, founder of JetSetGo, is an inspiration to Indian entrepreneurs. Her product is simple. She provides private aircraft that can be chartered to traverse the skies. Tekriwal discussed the vagaries of starting such an ambitious project in India’s economic landscape. A short, albeit impactful session, the panel discussion elapsed leaving the audience wanting to hear more from each of the participants.
The Conclave was organised by ‘Young Indians’ (YI), the youth wing of the CII. DYC saw an attendance of over 150 individuals. Geared towards inspiring youngsters into activism and enterprise, the DYC was set around the theme, ‘Celebrating India’s Young leaders and Achievers.’ Their motto, ‘We can, we will’ encapsulates the ethos of Young Indians — a group of resourceful, action-oriented leaders aged 21 to 40, who wish to put their time towards the betterment of society. Notably, YI’s chair is Anand Shriram, heir to the DCM Shriram Group. His co-chair, Madhav Singhania, is a special executive at JK Cement.
Event day-chair Devir, 24, is an acclaimed film-maker with his own production house, DSB Entertainment and Productions. In reflecting upon the event Devir remarks, “I’m extremely satisfied. The third edition of DYC took the event to a whole new level. Securing the leela Palace to host DYC was a stroke of good fortune. We succeeded in getting numerous qualified speakers capable of inspiring the youth. I was particularly impressed by Mr. Beniwal.” Devir highlighted how instrumental media coverage can be to the success of such an event, “This year, my own production company served as the media partner. In this age of social media, organising a successful event is only the first step. It’s how we present it to the larger public that generates the traction we desire.”
When asked about the future for DYC, Devir was optimistic. “The sky is the limit. In the era of the HT leadership Summit and the Jaipur literature Festival, I envision the Delhi Youth Conclave expanding to a comparable level. We wish to let the youngsters — India’s largest demographic know that there are people supporting their aspirations and desire to provide them with role models that they can look up to through these conclaves.” DYC has a long way to go, with traction to gain and more voices to get on board. But for a fledgling platform, its beginnings are ripe with promise.