Five young leaders from Global Youth India joined NewsX for a special interview which was titled, ‘What They Think: Youth Vision and Leadership in India’. These young emerging leaders talked of their expectations, hope and vision for the country. 

They are the future of the country and hence their opinion must be paid attention to. Reports suggest that by 2021, the median age in India will be 28 years. It cannot be denied that the voices of the youngsters are often ignored even though they are the most critical segment of the population and the future generation of the country, their concerns were amplified by NewsX. 

The first panellist for the session was Jyotismita Khataniar, an undergraduate student of sociology at Sri Venkateshwara College, University of Delhi. She is a fierce feminist and has a keen interest in European and South Asian politics and different forms of humanitarian issues revolving around the division. She is the co-founder of ‘Feel to Heal’’ mental health forum and the president of Sri Venkateshwara College Chapter- Global Youth.  ‘’The Youth can take right action only when they are in a right headspace,’’ said Jyotismita Khatanair, co-founder ‘Feel to Heal’ and the President of SVC chapter Global Youth.

Speaking about her journey and the idea of Global Youth, Jyotismita said, ‘I joined Global Youth last year. I always knew about Global Youth through my seniors and my peers who were a part of it but we didn’t have a chapter in our college and I really wanted a space like Global youth to be in our college because it is a wonderful opportunity for people like me who are as interested as I am in global politics, international affairs and international relations and wish to work in this arena in future. So I decided that it is important to take initiatives so I started this chapter in our college with some of my friends and we have been functional for a year now.’’ 

When asked about her goals and the role of Global Youth in providing a medium for the advocacy approaches in international affairs, Jyotismita stated that ‘mental health’ was one of the issues that she would like to take up as the issue lacks attention and people fail to address it. She said that with the help of Global Youth, she along with her friends had organized events and seminars wherein they provided therapy and many documentaries to make people aware of mental health issues. Talking about her forum and the main focus of the same, Jyotismita said, “The youth can take the right action by being in the right headspace. We can be changemakers and rather than being a liability, we can be essential assets of the country only when we have the access to proper healthcare. I want to make this forum as intersectional as possible so that people coming from different backgrounds can feel inclusive and realize that they are being heard and understood.’’ On a concluding note, Jyotismita shared a message of belief and hope. ‘’I believe that ‘little act of kindness’ goes a long way and kindness is one of the most important traits that a human can have have and develop,” said Jyotismita.

Next was Ashraf Nehal, a 3rd year student at the University of Delhi who has been writing on Politics and International Politics. He is also a Parliamentary Researcher with the AICC and is also a Research Associate with Red Lantern Analytica whereby he is researching on China. As a policy enthusiast, he believes that the Government must follow a policy centred approach rather than a political one. He joined Global Youth during his 2nd year and has been serving as the Deputy Chairperson of the Brazil Forum.

When asked about the challenges faced by India and how they can be addressed, Ashraf commented, “ Youth today is not very much aware of the policies, be it International or Domestic, although we have youths who are interested in politics. I have been working with all the national political parties but into the policy cell. I myself frame the Parliamentary question and briefs but there exists an age gap as I cannot put in my opinion there. We need to be aware from the point of policy. We have zero representation of the Youth in the United Nations and the Parliament. In the United Nations, there is only one post for the Youth that also a virtual presence, but I do not see any action taking place there. Same thing goes for the Parliament and we need our weightage to be there”.  Ashraf’s idea of changing the world lied in the belief of youth participation, be in International or Domestic policies. “Global Youth has been very instrumental here as it is us who are dealing with the Ambassadors, Commissioners and the Embassy”.  When asked about where he sees himself in the next 10-15 years, he commented, “  I will be guiding others as I have been guided in the Global Youth”. He draws his inspiration from the Global Youth Family who he looks up to as an idol. “I have also been associated with PRS and these are the institutions who have given me the power to explore policies and these think tanks have changed my thought process and many political and diplomat personalities asks for my help in policies”.

The third panellist for the session was Sehaj Malhotra, a second-year student of Political Science at lady Shri Ram college for the University of Delhi. She truly believes in the power of young people who can cohesively shape a better world, with wide-ranging interests in human rights law, gender justice, sustainable development and social entrepreneurship, she strives to create an equal and inclusive space for all. When asked if there is an issue she sees around her that she’d like to fix and resolve. She said, “There are a lot of problems that persist and require addressing timely, but one specific thing which I have noticed during the pandemic is the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on work culture on the Indian youth.”

She went on to say that the solution to the mentioned problem is  “I feel there is a partnership and cooperation that is required, be a partnership with government, be it a public-private partnership which is required to invest and to encourage aspects like youth entrepreneurship and India as a country requires more skilling when it comes to youth, the right kind of skills, the right kind of training, which integrates us properly into the job market. Sharing about her inspiring journey with Global youth, she said “I only joined the organization last year, but I am not exaggerating when I say this that the amount of personal growth that I’ve had with the kinds of opportunities that the organization has provided is just amazing. When asked about an idea she’d like to put forward, she replied, ” there is a certain sense of divide when it comes to education and employment, that we as a youth are facing it’s just that the kind of education that we are getting, and we are receiving should cultivate into employment, should give us the opportunities where we can lead the change where we can leave a mark”.

The fourth panellist was Kavya Uniyal, an undergraduate student at Kirori Mal College Delhi University, majoring in History and Political Science. She is an ally and an advocate of the rights of the LGBTQ Community. She hails from Uttrakhand, India and moved to Delhi 2 years back to pursue her undergraduate degree. Talking about joining the Global youth and her experience so far with the organization, she said- ‘’It was in the pandemic that I decided to channelize my energy in the right direction and do something productive. I got to know about Global Youth from a few friends of mine and decided to join. I was recruited in the International Legal Council and I currently serve as the events head at the organization. I  am also a part of the Junior core team and it’s been a wonderful experience to learn from people with amazing talents and who have done so much good work’’ Talking about the challenges and issues that prevail in the country, Kavya chose to talk about the ‘Right to life and human dignity and the Indian laws related to it. ‘’I have always been a firm believer that human beings are an heir to the legacy of dignity and self-worth and there can’t be any compromise when it comes to human dignity. However, there are people coming from certain section especially the LGTBQ community who have been denied the same.’’ Quoting Justice DY Chandrachud she said, ‘’Right to life and liberty is not created by the constitution rather it is recognized by the constitution and hence is an inalienable natural right’’.  She further brought into light the recent judgement by the Delhi High Court wherein the honourable court ruled that same sex marriages can’t happen between heterosexual people”. 

‘’ The LGBTQ community and the members have been fighting over this legislation as the centre has made its stance very clear and has vehemently opposed the idea of the same stating that marriage is a union between a biological male and biological female. I think the decision is problematic because we are implying that heterosexual people who have difficulty in conceiving a child will be denied the right to marry whoever they want to. I think its high time that we should let people be’’. 

When asked about the solution of this certain problem and how Global Youth can be a platform through which certain solutions can be brought, Kavya asserted that anti-discriminatory laws and gender-neutral laws needs to be there in India.  She further added that instead of decriminalizing Article 377, it should have been legitimized, which would have strengthened Article 14 of the Indian constitution that grants the Right to Equality. “Global Youth has helped in many ways. With the help of Global Youth, we have held different webinars and seminars where people from the LGBTQ community have come and shared their individual experiences and some of the stories were painful. It makes us think that heterosexuals are privileged to have certain rights while it is being denied to other people’’, she added. On a concluding note, Kavya said that she intends to pursue her masters in International relations and be a well-informed citizen who is aware of her rights and help to awaken people about the same in a democratic country like India.

The fifth panellist was Nandiinii Singh, an undergraduate student studying political science at Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi. She serves as the chairperson of the India-UK Youth Forum, Global Youth. She has been keenly observing the education sector and the impact of the relevant policies, particularly in navigating the gap between Indian education and employment. She started by sharing her journey with Global Youth and said. “It began in 2019 in my first year of college. Within the first month, all of the orientations for all the college societies will be held. This was the one that really captured what I was looking for. So when pursuing a degree like political science, I was looking to have somewhere, where I can actually experience the practical aspect of policy and politics and all of the interplay and get practical exposure to the field. So, this was where I actually found my space, and I applied ”. When asked about a problem that is close to her heart and that she hoped to fix, she responded, “Something that I have been studying, researching and closely following especially during the pandemic is the disconnect that I have sensed between the education and the employment sectors, there is a definite mismatch between what the formal education system is equipping with and the needs of employability and the focus.” 

“In the next five to 10 years I definitely see myself dedicatedly working towards the cause I just highlighted, and that I think would be in the public service field. and I have always been inspired by people working in this field and the impact that they can bring to the agency that they have to create an impact, and I think that has been the reason I fixed very early on that I wanted to play a role there. In that capacity. So the next 10 years and beyond that, I see myself working as a public servant to convert this youth potential into a definite asset for India,” she added. In her concluding remarks, she further said, “Every day, I see old biases and prejudices and stereotypes and outdated customs being broken. You know that is holding us back and step by step changes are definitely happening. So that really infuses me with the hope of a bright future, not just for myself but for the nation as a whole.” 

Watch the telecast here: