Role of Youth in Nation Building
India is an agricultural country where a vast majority of the population lives in villages which are strong-holds of superstitions, ignorance, insanitation and illiteracy. The removal of these three big evils is very essential for the welfare of the country and the students can do it best. These social evils lead to so many drawbacks to the people of our country and there-by hinder its progress and economic development. The Government cannot take measures to annihilate them completely for they are very big problems. The people alone can cope with them and if the students of our country develop a sense of responsibility in that direction things would become easier. In foreign countries, social welfare work is made a part and parcel of the students’ training and their education is not deemed to be complete unless they have completed it. In Germany, every youth had to take to the programme of road-building and unless he had obtained a certificate to that effect, he was not eligible for any government job. This was one of the reasons why such large number of good roads existed in Germany during the last war. So also, is the case with other countries where the students were taken to villages, slums and factory areas and were required to live there and work for the welfare of the people. The central idea of making social welfare work compulsory for the students, is to make them realise its importance in future life and also its role in society. In our country also, a college of social welfare was started by the Government to train social welfare work. It was made obligatory on all the students finishing their graduate course or the University career to undergo training in social welfare work and unless they obtained a certificate to that effect they were not supposed to be eligible for government service. So every student had to undergo a practical training for six months and do a scheduled amount of work before they could get a certificate. Several batches were sent to different parts of the country and the trainees did work, in road construction, sanitation and removal of illiteracy.
India is almost a continent with manifold social problems hence, a habit of social welfare work is to be created in the people. To achieve such an end in view, training in this sort of work will have to be imparted right from the school stage. Even the school boys should know the importance of social welfare work and also their role in it. Although some such sort of work is often done by the scouts or Junior Red Cross groups, but this not sufficient. This student community, as a whole, has to be mobilized and social welfare work made a compulsory subject with practical training. This will have its roots go deep into the life of the people and a habit which a boy has acquired in his boyhood will not be easily forgotten by him in his adolescence. So the social welfare work is a sort of nation building work and its importance has to be admitted.
The students can play a very useful role in wiping out illiteracy and insanitation from our villages. Anyone who has seen a village must also have seen the awful sanitary condition there. The villagers are used to deposit filth just close to their houses. The village drainage is also allowed to take any course. The filthy-and badly smelling water flowing right from the middle of lanes is a common sight in any village. Small lanes which become smaller every day, unventilated houses, dirt and squalor are usual sights and all these have to be fought out. The villagers are unmindful and someone else has to do this for them. The students can do it, perhaps, most effectively. A village may be given to a batch of students and it may be required to do a scheduled amount of work. This work may be gauged by its efficacy.
The removal of illiteracy is yet another problem which can be very effectively tackled by the students. About ninety percent of the people in villages are illiterate. The reason is their utter ignorance and lack of initiative in this direction. Someone has to pull them up. Here also, the students can be of immense help. In fact, it is not possible for the government to take up this work effectively unless public co-operations is there. The work of the students would create a back-ground and would also mobilise public opinion. The amount and quality of work which they can do will by-pass all mercenary work, for they would be imparting wider and more up-to-date knowledge to the villagers as compared to the low-paid staff which the government maintains for ‘this purpose. The batch of students living in a particular village may attract the villagers more closely by their good habits and useful modes of conduct and they might succeed in their effort of removing the great social evils of illiteracy and ignorance more effectively as compared to government efforts.
The superstitions form the back-bone of village society. Ghosts still continue to live in their mind and they are yet the victims of ‘Ojhas’ and ‘Bhaghats’ who are supposed to be more competent medical men as compared to the modern physicians and surgeons, to treat any ailment. The small-pox and typhoid still continue to be things which were taken as manifestations of ‘Mata’ and ‘Devi’ The cholera epidemic is yet believed by a large number of villagers to be an invasion of the fiends let loose by fabulous ‘Raja Hardeo Singh’ and the remedy was an appeasement by sacrificing a cock or a swine, one bottle of country liquor, milk, a little red piece of cloth and ‘Havan’ It is also believed that any sort of medical treatment would enrage the fiend deity and would result in a heavy toll of life. This and similar other such superstitions cause unmeasured loss to the country. The students can fight them out quite effectively by imparting scientific reasons to all such events and thus rebut the age-old superstitions, if necessary, by practical demonstrations, wherever possible.
The students can also work as an excellent agency of governmental social welfare plans. The usefulness of co-operative system and corporate living may very well be brought home by them. It will help the government machinery to launch their schemes of cooperative work more efficaciously by practice demonstrations. The functioning of the ‘panchayats’ may also be made more smooth and useful to the village society. There will be no social welfare work in which the students will not give their solid contributions.
In the cities also, the students can be of immense importance in eradicating social evils. There are more slums there where human beings live and which are unfit for animals even. The students can help a lot in this direction as well. The nasty traditions associated with some of our festivals like Holi and Diwali may be fought very effectively by the students. They can do so by demonstrations and other such devices. Then there is that illiteracy-removal work, which they can take up. So, every where there is so much work to be done in this direction that the student-force may be kept busy in it. This will make the city clean in all respects and will help them become befitting citizens of a great country, like India.
Students are ever a great force in any country and history tells us about their achievements. In Russia, it is said, the tremendous rise in the country’s literacy percentage was mainly due to the work of the students. Their role in social welfare work is a very important one and the leaders of our country have only to mobilise this dynamic power for the public good.