National Youth Day: Relevance of Swami Vivekananda’s teachings & the role of youth in post Covid-19 era
Swami Vivekananda famously said — Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.
Survival of the fittest — so far will be — Survival of the fittest and the smartest:
My hope of the future lies in the youths of character, intelligent, renouncing all for the services of others, and obedient – good to themselves and the country at large — Swami Vivekananda.
As we leave behind the dark shadows of 2020, these immortal lines by great spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda assume significance like never before.
The mass of humanity has just endured annus horribilis due to the outbreak of a dreadful pandemic and is now trying to stand back on its feet. And the youths of our beloved country have a crucial role to play in steering the nation out of troubled waters.
On National Youth Day (January 12), observed annually on the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda since 1984, the people of the country, especially the young population, must imbibe the teachings of the great Hindu monk to rise from despair and take steps for the welfare of the society.
Contrary to the popular notion that young people shun moral lessons, the youths of the country find a resonance in the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. This is precisely why the writings and speeches of Swami Ji are more famous today than ever. In fact, the teachings of Swami Ji are becoming more and more relevant with each passing year.
In the post pandemic world, the youths don’t just have to shoulder the responsibility of their loved ones but that of the society at large. Thus, the youths must channelize their potential to excel in medical, engineering, and other fields to ensure that India restores the glory that she enjoyed during the Golden Age.
Not to forget, the youths have to set a precedent before the society in following Covid-19 regulations as the fight is not over yet. From the looks of it, the regulations like wearing of masks and maintaining physical distancing, among others, are likely to stay put for at least a year more. So, the youths must not only abide by the norms but also prevent others from flouting these laws.
Recently, the country conducted a successful dry run for Covid-19 vaccination. The actual inoculation drive is also not far away. Hence, it is also upon the youths to remove any misconceptions against Covid-19 vaccine and encourage people towards getting vaccinated.
A paradigm shift
The afflictions inflicted upon mankind by the novel Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdowns to contain its spread has changed the world order in more ways than one. For the young generation, the Covid-19 pandemic has furthered job insecurity and has put an additional burden on students to remain consistent with their performance while studying online.
Therefore, what was — ‘survival of the fittest’ — so far will be — ‘survival of the fittest and the smartest’ . The need of the hour is to be innovative and not just follow the footsteps of another success story. The one-size-fits-all approach won’t work anymore.
To rise up to this new challenge, mental strength is as crucial for the youths as any other skill. Here too, the teachings of Swami Vivekananda find a reverberation as they encourage youths to tap into their spirituality. He famously said — Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.
The message is strong but lays emphasis on a simple virtue — determination — a quality that all great men and women across the world share.
Youth in India constitutes about more than one-fourth of the total population and the only way to win the battle against this zoonotic disease is through their collective effort. Individual initiatives like — utilizing drones to deliver food and healthcare products to remote areas, making people aware of the pandemic through social media accounts, volunteering to help vulnerable people, and donating to comfort those in need, among others — will go a long way in conquering the virus.
In this regard, Swami Vivekananda’s teaching of universalism serves as a guiding light. With the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech pledging to help other nations with Covid-19 vaccine, we have already lived up to our ancient concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — the world is one family.
Making Swami Ji’s dream a reality
There is no denying that these are unprecedented times and coping up with uncertainty is a task in itself but there is more than a silver lining for us to be hopeful of good times. Besides, it is heartening to see so many youths working as frontline Covid-19 warriors, researchers, activists, innovators, and communicators in times of a pandemic for the collective good. Even the youngsters spreading the right knowledge, right humour, and right videos are doing a great service.
Swami Vivekananda inspired millions of youth during his time and continues to do so even today. In the post pandemic era, it is expected of the youth to rise to the occasion, fight for the right, and channelize their inner energies, just like Swami Ji would have. The great thinker of the 19th Century transformed the lives of millions with his philosophy and it is now upon the youths to do their bit to make this world safer, greener, more gender-equal, and healthier.
I sum up with the most basic but also one of the most beautiful teachings of Swami Ji — Arise, awake and do not stop until the goal is reached.
(The writer is president, Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Delhi and PhD in Applied Mathematics. )