February 3rd, 2017
Every year 3.5 million people graduate in India with only a few having employable skills.
“When I moved to college, there were 2,500 students in my college, and only a few of them knew why they were pursuing engineering. You study electrical engineering for four years, and then an IT company recruits you to do Java coding! Where’s the logic in that?” asks Prakhar, founder of Youth Alliance.
His family moved to Kanpur from Ganga-deen Nivada, a village 80 km from Kanpur right after his birth. Enrolled in one of the top schools in the city, he spent summer holidays in the village every year where until today most of the houses do not have toilets and electricity is yet to reach.
Graduating to college, he realised that the answer to this social injustice was around us, but the 2500 students in his college were obviously unaware of both, the existing inequity and their potential. Driven by the sense of social justice, Youth Alliance was established with the vision to nurture empathic leaders by exposing youngsters to the social reality. Today, sitting in Delhi we read about villages of UP and Bihar without understanding the realities that exist there and the privileges that we live in.
Youth Alliance takes youngsters on intensive journeys through programs like “Gramya Manthan”, a 9-day rural immersion program in the villages near Kanpur and Ahmedabad where they experience how 60% of the India lives. In this journey, they interact and engage with different communities, realise their privileges, living in the city which peels off their urban plaster and perspective.
“When a 19-year old witnesses an old person suffering from the curable blindness caused by cataract, whose treatment cost is equivalent to Rs 2500 or that a woman has to go to the toilet at night or early morning in the dark outside, because there is no toilet, they begin to question where our country is lacking even after 67 years of Independence and their role in changing the scenario.”
Youth Alliance keeps personal transformation at-the-center, learning through social action as the key to problem-solving, and empathetic leadership as a solution to India’s myriad challenges. We build intention to work towards change by making them use their head, heart and hand through service learning projects in villages which vary from education, personal hygiene, sanitation to alcoholism.
A young mind which once goes through such experiences becomes more conscious of the choices and its impacts. The youngster starts looking beyond the obvious, and gains confidence to act for a cause thus making their voice heard. They also build openness to learning while unlearning their rigidity. These elements empower the youth to be sensitive and expand their isolative mindset as they begin to see a whole community as theirs and emerging to become an ethical leader, which is required in our country today.
The cocoon of ignorance prevails in top colleges of metro cities to the youth of Tier 2 and 3 cities colleges who have immense potential but scarce exposure. The program brings together best heads and hearts from all over the country forming a community of young people driven to change and finding support in each other
“Youth Alliance ’s immersive programs, have helped invest 500+ youngsters in acts of nation building by kindling empathy for the communities and the issues surrounding them.”
Ridhi has established a non-profit to educate first-generation Muslim girls; Samarth is influencing policies through data-based journalism with a leading newspaper; Divas is working to abolish manual scavenging, and Kirti is working with Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi to end child labour by using her legal expertise. Scores of such stories have strengthened our belief to work with youth.
Prakhar shares, “Although we are a young organisation, I often experience an unbounded joy witnessing Youth Alliance’s alumni stories. When I ask myself what I can do, the answer invariably is that I believe in the power of generosity, trust, hope, and all I can do is sow the seed.”
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