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Secretary Generals’ Message on National Youth Day, 12th January 2014

In 1984 the Government of India declared and decided to observe the Birthday of Swami Vivekananda (12 January, according to the English calendar) as National Youth Day every year from 1985 onwards as it was felt that the philosophy of Swamiji and the ideals for which he lived and worked could be a great source of inspiration for the Indian Youth. Youth have contributed in transforming India since times immemorial. According to estimates the current proportion of population under 25 years in India is 51% and the proportion under 35 is about 66%. This predominance of youth in the population is expected to last until 2050, with the average age of an Indian in 2020 expected to be 29 years. By 2020, India is set to become the world’s youngest country with 64 per cent of its population in the working age group. With the West, Japan and even China aging, this demographic potential offers India and its growing economy an unprecedented edge that economists believe could add a significant 2 per cent to the GDP growth rate.

Our youth are our major strength. With a multitude of problems and its susceptibility to disasters, India stands at a threshold where youth participation can accelerate the country’s growth journey. Today, more than ever before, there is greater awareness among the youth about their rights. Equally, there is a strong desire to contribute directly to the betterment of our society. Indian youth has the power to take our country from being a developing nation to a developed one and they can be the flag bearers of the country’s growth strategy.

The strength of the Red Cross movement lies in its volunteers. The Indian Red Cross Society lays great emphasis on training the youth for community and humanitarian Service and therefore launched the FMR (First Medical Responders) programme in 2011 under which youth from amongst the community are trained to be the first to help it in times of any calamity.

The power of the Red Cross volunteer was seen during the disasters in Uttarakhand as well as in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh in 2013, where they were involved in the evacuation and delivery of help to the needy. More than 5000 youth volunteers came out as angels of help for the victims. A number of these youth volunteers are FMRs, a part of the disaster management programme that was piloted by the IRCS in Uttarakhand. The FMR programme is now being implemented in 14 disaster prone states. Fathoming a growing need, and keeping in mind the vulnerability of Jammu and Kashmir to disasters, the Indian Red Cross Society has also recently launched the FMR programme in this state.

Our Youth volunteers are involved in various health programmes, door to door dissemination of information about diseases like TB and Measles, fighting against social stigma and discrimination, issues relating to hygiene and sanitation, first aid etc. The various branches of the IRCS motivate the youth right from the higher secondary school and college level.

On the occasion of the India’s Youth Day, I call upon the youth of our country to be committed and more focused participants in the humanitarian field. The community needs its youth as active participants in developmental and relief activities. Youth is the well from which spring - progress, vitality, motivation and action. The responsibility of motivated action is now on your strong shoulders, my dear young friends…

Dr S P Agarwal
Secretary General,
Indian Red Cross Society

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