The Ocean in a Drop
Inside out Youth Leadership
By Ashraf Patel, Meenu Venkateshwaran, Kamini Prakash, Arjun Shekhar
The book talks about the contribution of youth in the past and how it can once again take the centre stage to help the country move forward. In the process it asks why and how the generation of today has become self-absorbed and alienated and explores ways to engage the youth to bring about change.
In the first chapter, the writers suggest doing away with archaic concept of classroom. Adults should stop instructing youngsters how to behave. The knowledge n one generation should not be passed on to the next generation. Instead, youngsters should be encouraged to act more and more in the real world and learn from their own experiences.
The second chapter argues why, while young people played a significant role in helping secure India its freedom, their participation in active politics has steadily declined. The writers believe the country is on the brink of another significant opportunity where the youth can create a space of activism. This changing picture may be owing to mainstream media.
In the third chapter, the writers attempt to define and classify youth in specific categories.
The primary category sees youth in terms of economy. Huge investment is being planned in education sector to ensure there successful entry in to the job market. Secondary category is of those individuals who are clients in the market of education and expertise. The third category is engaging youth as instruments of social change. Individuals who can volunteer to share their skills, time and energy to bring about change.
The writers suggest a more youth centric strategy is required which emphasizes the identity formation stage of youth processes. It also recognizes that the personal transformation of a youngster is as critical as the societal transformation he/she can bring about.
Chapter four, talks about possibility of a fifth space for the youth apart from family, friends, career and leisure and lifestyle. Today active citizenship or activism is mostly on the periphery. This active citizenship can take centre stage in wake of a cataclysmic event, like Independence Movement of India.
But in the absence of any such event, is it possible to create a fifth space?
Writers argue, the only way this is possible is, if the fifth space were such that it develops skills, attitudes, beliefs and values that nurture all the other spaces.
In the last chapter the writers outline principles that govern the contours of the fifth space.
First principle is ownership, second is, who is in charge of the space. The writers advocate that the space be youth-led. Next principle is from self to society- change starting with self to society. Another principle talks of character ‘sifat’ or promoting trust.
The fifth place balances the now of the young people with the future obsession of the society.
Fifth space must have the ability to forward, irrespective of whether the members change or not.
The writers also make some key recommendations for acceptance of fifth space in the society. These include creating fifth spaces in the livelihood and vocational training institutions to changes in the structuring the ministries to getting the youth affairs ministry to function as cross-functional aid for other ministries. Recommendations also include using media as advocacy tool for fifth space.