National Youth Festival 2016 – Debate Speech Transcript


India is at war, yes.
We are at the war against poverty, corruption, terrorism, discrimination, insurgency.

India is at war.

And who are our warriors?
Only the fierce, fast, dazzling fresh faces?

*fake audience scan*

A very good evening to the august house. My name is Prerna Somani, and I stand before you to speak firmly against the motion – Development of India is ONLY possible through youth.

First of all, WHAT A HUGE BLOW TO THE VENERABLE GURU SHISHYA PARAMPARA THAT HAVE BEEN THE FOUNDATION OF OUR SANATAN SAMSKRITI? I find this topic utterly bizarre because when my worthy opponents declare that youth alone can fulfill all the prerequisites of development, in a single go they have made Chanakya unnecessary, Vishwamitra redundant and Guru Nanak unneeded. When you say only young people are the portents of progress, you must also mean there is no value left in a grandfather’s tales or a grandmother’s songs?

Fun fact: We are human beings. Living, breathing, thinking beings. You and I are not products. We are not bread or ketchup sauce that has a “best before” date printed on its packet. Irrespective of our age, all of us are significantly important to the phenomenon of development and history testifies to this reality.

Our divine land was once a witness to the sheer greatness of a Maratha emperor. This heroic samurai of the Western Ghats was only 17 when he first vowed to free his motherland from Mughal tyranny. The chants of ‘Har Har Mahadev’ resounded all over the Deccan, right up till the court of Aurangzeb. Young, vivacious, and fearless Chattrapati Shivaji changed the destiny of India in a span of few decades. Could this have happened without the teachings of Jijabai and Dadaji Kondoe? Samarth Ramdas Swami stood like an iron pillar behind Shivaji, guiding him, advising him, supervising him.

Narendra Nath Dutta. A philosophically inquisitive fellow who would’ve lived and perhaps died in a mildly enlightened life had it not been for Ramkrishna Paramhansa, who took Narendra under his wing, and gifted the world an irreplaceable gem in the form of Swami Vivekananda, who singlehandedly altered the west’s understanding of Indian samskriti. “Arise, awake and stop not until the goal is reached.” Swami Vivekananda’s philosophy became the foundation of our modern youth empowerment movement.

The point I am trying to highlight is – Youth alone is nothing short of an unguided missile, a directionless racing horse. Chandragupta Maurya spearheaded the most magnificent of India’s empires. He was strong, courageous, ambitious. Every virtue of youth embodied in a single personality. Was that enough though? *signal no* Because when Chandragupta charged towards greatness, it was only with Chanakya as his charioteer. The Indian youth by themselves can, I truly believe, move mountains through the sheer passion that gushes in our veins. But when forts need to be built, when structures need to be assembled, when bridges need to be constructed – there is no substitute for experience. Without the eyes of wisdom, youth is blind, our efforts meaningless, and our endeavours pointless. Worthy opponents, do you still seriously promote betting the future of our entire country only and only on its youth?

If so, explain to me why our Constitution dictates that an individual must be at least of 25 years to be eligible for the lower house and 35 for the upper house? It is not practically feasible to hold or administer the responsibility of development to only one section of India’s demography.

Naikam chakram paribhramyati – a chariot cannot move on a single wheel.
(Chankya Neeti)

Development is a qualitative concept, and a phenomenon achieved by teamwork. Swami Vivekananda, very astutely, pointed out the three Hs of development. The Heads to Think; Hands to Work and the Hearts to feel. It seems infinitely clear to me that he attributed the responsibility of thinking and policy making to the seasoned commanders; and the task of enforcement and reinforcement was allotted to the young, energetic forces of India. As for the hearts to feel, empathy is an unwritten fundamental duty of every citizen of this country. A harmonious symbiosis of both sides of the age spectrum is necessary for long lasting development. If not, we might as well take a road trip on a brake fail car.

Saahasen n karyasiddhir bhavati – only courage cannot lead you to victory
(Chankya Neeti)

How ironical it is to be a participant of the National Youth Festival and elucidate to an elite audience why we can’t solely depend on young minds and bodies for India’s development. But while making my stand, I keep in mind my 45 lakh educated unemployed brothers and sisters. I keep in mind lakhs and lakhs of unskilled, profligate, apathetic young people. A generation that has lost half its caliber to tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, cocaine is expected to lead India towards development? Get a reality check!

Given the choice, who would you have followed? Me or Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam? *fake audience scan* Why not me? I am young. I have energy. I am fearless. I can work for 16 hours a day! I am ready to challenge archaic customs, and venture new opportunities. Why not me then? Didn’t my opponents just convince all of you that only the youth can develop India?
No. No, they didn’t.
My example is flawed because the man I compare myself with was matchless in his wisdom and immaculate by nature. But I see virtue in this example, but its fit right with the flawed topic of this debate. Inexperience and naivety are not the youth’s fault; it is only with every passing winter that we learn to warm ourselves properly. And, oh the winter is coming my friends. The winter is coming.

Development of India is an extremely serious issue when our Human Development Index lazily floats around 0.609, making us rank 130th in a list of 180 countries. I fear my opponents do not understand the gravity of our condition when they declare so naively that only the youth can develop our mighty nation. India will not develop overnight, and unfortunately our youth lacks the patience and the integrity to follow this colossal task through, all by themselves. Need I say more after students at JNU, Delhi shamelessly raised anti-India slogans celebrating terrorists like Afzal Guru? Is this the youth that is expected to lead India towards progress? How is there any prudence in putting all your money in one bag, especially when the bag in itself is full of holes!

These are not the words of a nihilist or a misanthrope, my friends but a realist.

We are … A dormant volcano of unbridled talent,
excessive deficit of virtue valiant;
we have fancy dreams
of settled lives overseas;
we want free gifts,
no toil no grease.
Our idols romanticize hooliganism
on the big screen;
we dirty the neighbour’s yard,
to keep ours clean.
Aimless, we follow bandwagons
of the West
Nights are for animal fun,
and days for comatose rest.
Today’s cheaters, Tomorrow’s leaders;
we mock, we disobey, we’re “cool”.
We talk of the sea when we’ve never
gone beyond a swimming pool.
Dormant volcanoes of unbridled talent.

Thank you
Jai Hind


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