Friday, August 21, 2015

Taking Inspiration, Securing Hope


Sikkim has a responsibility towards its young – it needs to allow them to dream and create an environment which allows them to pursue their dreams

When Megha Nidhi Dahal, a 28 year old youth who was already “settled” and “secure” as a software engineer in the software capital of India at Bangalore, discovered his passion for public service and decided to pursue his real calling, he reaffirmed the faith Sikkim needs to have on its youth. He may be the first Sikkimese to crack the UPSC exams in the general category, but his success is bound to inspire many more youth to many more successes. What Sikkim needs to ensure is an environment which inspires more of its young to pursue more divergent dreams.
Take Megha Nidhi’s example – his parents always wanted him to become a civil servant but he was drawn to engineering when he was completing school. His parents did not impose their ambitions for him on him and supported his engineering studies which are neither short nor cheap. He did exceptionally well as an engineer and then discovered his real calling. He clearly received the full support of his family when he decided to start pursuing a new career, and this cushion complemented his inherent attributes well to ensure such glowing success for him. Clearly, Megha Nidhi is an exception, but he is hopefully representative of his generation’s pursuit for excellence, a pursuit which the elder generation needs to learn to allow to breathe, if supporting and assisting is too much to ask for.
Slightly over a quarter of Sikkim’s population is in the age-group with the most potential. As per the Census 2011 data, 22% of Sikkim’s population is aged between 15 to 24. Although learning is a process which begins with birth and continues till death, it is this slot from 15 to 24 which can benefit the most from opportunities. One-fourth of Sikkim’s population should be indulged by the remaining 78% with best of opportunities and the most of resources. If this section excels, they will ensure a better future for the larger majority in coming years. Indulging this section should not be too difficult a task because when expanded, the age-group from 15 to 59, recognised as the “working age group” constitutes 65% of the population. What is more, a staggering 70% of Sikkim’s population is made up of adults – those aged above 18 years. This means that the percentage of dependents – the very young and very aged – is very low in Sikkim, hence, supporting the dreams and aspirations of the 15 to 24 year olds should not be an impossible burden for the State to bear. Given how much easier Sikkim has it compared to the statistics and ground realities of the other states, the working age section has no excuses to deny the age-group on the verge of finding itself even its most ambitious ambitions.
Unfortunately, despite an astoundingly high percentage of Sikkim made up of the young in their most productive age-bracket, there does not appear to be much youthful exuberance palpable in the State. Disenchantment, pessimism and opportunism are behavioural traits that one normally associates with those who have been around for slightly more time, but too many even in their mid-thirties are already dulling the environment with jaded outlooks. This is unfortunate. Take a look around, at the community level, there is very little that this age-group is doing to get noticed and make a difference. Even the rebellious streak that is so marked in these still young years is missing. An entire generation was smothered by elders who extended privileges when they should have provided challenges. An entire section has matured with a worrying sense of entitlement and no sense of service. This age-group needs to get stimulated. Successes like Megha Nidhi and the exciting batch which recently made the final merit list in SPSC exams provide that spark for those slightly elder to them to shake awake and find a more productive role for themselves in society. Now to see if that spark will catch...

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