Engaging youth to change society

Published: August 30, 2016 3:16 PM

Last year world leaders agreed that managing the challenges faced by the society will decide the inclusive and sustainable developmental priorities of the next generation. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted on September 15 th 2015, and were dubbed as the most important goals to be accomplished in world’s history.

To contribute its share in making the Sustainable Development Goals a reality, Telenor Group along with the Nobel Peace Center (NPC) has rolled out TYF 2016. (Reuters)To contribute its share in making the Sustainable Development Goals a reality, Telenor Group along with the Nobel Peace Center (NPC) has rolled out TYF 2016. (Reuters)

Last year world leaders agreed that managing the challenges faced by the society will decide the inclusive and sustainable developmental priorities of the next generation. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted on September 15 th 2015, and were dubbed as the most important goals to be accomplished in world’s history. They are designed to change the world by tackling key issues – such as poverty, hunger, gender equality, health and education — by 2030.

As a responsible corporate citizen, Telenor Group pledged support to UN #GlobalGoals and joined others to end extreme poverty, fight inequality & injustice and fix climate change. Telcos like Telenor, who believe in creating local impact in areas where they operate, are integrating their digital initiatives with innovative product and services to meet the global goals. But a lot will depend on the youth to accelerate the pace of change. With their imagination, courage and ingenuity, the world is looking up to them for sustainable solutions.

Youth As Harbingers Of Change:

It is well established that opening access to knowledge, opportunities and vital services would usher in a better future for everyone. And, access to mobile internet is a defining moment in a community’s social and economic development.

While telcos can ensure connectivity, the youth of the nation need to manage and find a digital solution to the issues and challenges faced by society. They will decide the inclusive and sustainable developmental priorities of the next generation. The younger generation needs to engage in the planning, implementation and monitoring of projects that will help us achieve the global goals. As some recent political changes in West Asia have shown, these young leaders have ideas and the charisma to mobilise the masses to bring about positive change.

India is well positioned to reap the democratic dividend of hosting the world’s largest youth population. The combination of a young population (the 2011 census indicates that over 41% of Indians are below the age of 20 years) and a society that is fast adapting to the digital lifestyle has put India in a sweet spot in this journey of change.

From mobilising communities to addressing social challenges for a better future, youth of India have been working to create and curate solutions that can benefit society. They not only dream or talk big but constantly find ways to engage in building a new society that promises equality and social justice.

For instance, 21-year- old Kaarika Das is a graduate in economics from University of Delhi, an international development enthusiast and an aspiring social entrepreneur. Her app & provides a social platform to enable collaborative sharing of video courses and has been designed for individuals as well as educational institutions, to reach a wider audience. Teleshiksha will enable anyone with a mobile and Internet connection to build knowledge through access to publicly shared curricula, for free.

Similarly, Abhishek Kaushal, 26-year- old IIM Ranchi graduate, wants to use Internet to facilitate behavioural medicine through digital therapeutics. As 80% of diabetes occurs due to unhealthy lifestyle, Abhishek offered a solution to change one’s lifestyle digitally through a mobile app called ‘E-coach’. This app will create awareness on food habits and healthy living. It will also track the user’s daily activity levels, sleep patterns, heart rate and weight all seamlessly getting uploaded to the mobile App through wearable health band and Bluetooth- enabled weighing scale.

Organisations have encouraged and enabled various forums and platforms for the youth to exchange ideas in the process of social and economic advancement, especially around issues such as health, education, employment and corruption.

To contribute its share in making the Sustainable Development Goals a reality, Telenor Group along with the Nobel Peace Center (NPC) has rolled out TYF 2016.

In 2015 Kaarika and Abhishek joined participants from 12 other countries in Oslo and represented India to showcase their innovative ideas at Telenor Youth Forum.

This year-long programme with ‘Digitization for peace’ as its theme will bring together young leaders from all over the world on a common platform to collaborate and find digital solutions for universal peace and prosperity. After all, it is the commitment, passion and desire of these young leaders that will determine what kind of world we live in and what we leave behind for our next generation.

Digitization As The Way Forward

These change makers are innovators who bring in fresh perspectives and are not afraid of asking difficult questions. Adding to their skill sets is the proliferation of social media, giving them more power and a global reach.

Digitization, therefore, has emerged as part of the solution for the rampant social ills plaguing the world. Even the ambitious Digital India programme of the

Government of India tries to transform India into a knowledge economy. The young leaders are the custodians of this digitally empowered society. Catching them young and nurturing their capabilities at the right age will not only help achieve the much desired goal of a digital future for India but also help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Pooja Thakran, Head – Social Responsibility & Chief Communication Officer, Telenor India

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