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Fifth space: A platform to unleash power of young Indians

Jan 15, 2013

Young people congregate to voice their concerns on National Youth Day and discuss the need to create a unique space for self-development and social action.

ComMutiny-the Youth Collective (CYC) staged an event for creating a unique space for youth development called '5th Space’ in collaboration with Pravah and Youth Alliance on the National Youth Day. The idea was based on the belief that young people wish to understand themselves, develop and grow, deal with conflicts in their lives and take action that benefits them and their surroundings. Nearly 200 youngsters from different walks of life raised their concerns relating to gender, peace, environment, livelihood, governance and corruption at the event.

“With the recent upsurge of youth across the country following the Delhi gang rape case, there is a felt need to bring together young people and their facilitators to focus on 'Young People in Social Action.’ As future decision-makers the youth want to gain a social orientation and a regard for common space so that they can become socially responsible decision makers in the future,” said Arjun Shekhar, Co-founder, CYC.

Traditionally, the youth engage in spaces like friends, family and entertainment where they cannot always voice their opinions openly as these spaces don't create opportunities for them to learn about themselves and the world around them. They conform to societal, family and peer pressures that often stifle a young person’s voice. The 5th space makes relationships in these spaces count by equipping young people with the capabilities to act effectively and responsibly.

The 5th space has been designed as a secular, non-commercial 'hang out' where young people meet, share their views, understand different perspectives and learn from each other. The focus of mainstream education is to prepare young people for careers. To be able to negotiate identities, build agreement, resolve conflicts amicably, and connect with the world around them – these are the qualities that build leadership skills and eventually also a career.

India is home to the largest and fastest growing population of young people. By 2020 it is expected to become the youngest nation in the world with an average age of 29 years. Twenty per cent of the members of Lok Sabha were below 40 in 1951 and 32% in 1956. Today, that figure has slipped to 6.3%. By 2009 the average age of the cabinet had gone up to 62.7 years.

Though youth representation was high in the 40s, the young members were kept out of governance. The average age of the first cabinet after independence was 54 and just 26 per cent of the MPs were between 25 to 40 years. Over the past two years, CYC has gone through a process of organizational redesign and defined future steps for fostering and promoting 5th spaces for young people to reverse such trends.

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