By : Rukmini Barua Deka
The BRICS bloc, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have over 720 million young people that are in the age group of 10-24 years. Among them Brazil, Russia and China seem to be more advanced considering their demographic features than South Africa and India. However, considerably, all the BRICS nations have a large group of people consisting a potential workforce, aiming at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). BRICS bloc aim at propagating education, employment and providing facilities for entrepreneurship and skill training for youth to make them attain social and economic empowerment. Congenial environment needs to be provided to them, to all those who are ready to develop their latent and innovative ideas. The BRICS bloc gives recognition to the immense diverse potentials present in youth as well as their needs and aspirations.
To recognise the importance of volunteerism for youth development, to contribute to social and economic development , the second BRICS Youth Summit 2016 was held in Guwahati, Assam from July 1to 3.”Youth as bridge for inter-BRICS exchanges “was the theme for the summit. The three-day summit focused on increased people –to- people contacts among the BRICS bloc countries including youth. To Promote the aims and initiatives of the first Youth Summit held in Russia in July 2015, to create a permament platform for development of BRICS youth , highly interactive, broad based and stimulatingdiscussions took place here on various issues related to youth development . That was spread over several sessions , which focused on skill development and entrepreneurship, social inclusions, youth volunteerism and youth participation in governance.
The BRICS Youth Summit 2016 was inaugurated by Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister, Assam on July 1 at Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok. Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of Sports and Youth Welfare, Ranjit Das, Speaker, Assam Legislative Assembly, V.K.Pipersenia, Chief Secretary, Assam, Tarun Gogoi, Former Chief Minister, Assam, ministers, MLAs, senior government officials, members of the BRICS nations and a host of dignitaries including leading citizens graced the inaugural program.
The second day’s program which was held at Hotel Vivanta by Taj comprised of sessions like yoga and meditation which was followed by four working sessions. The member nations-Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa made deliberations on skill development and entrepreneurship, social inclusion, youth volunteerism and youth participation in governance. It was a matter of great pride for Gauhati University students and NSS Volunteers to have attained an opportunity to attend the Summit on the second day. The students took part in a cultural programme on that day, showcasing various dances of Assam like Bihu, Karbi, Boro, Tiwa Lalilang, Langkhoi, Hajong, Sattriya, Bhurtaal etc. Dr. Ranjan Kakoti, Director Students Welfare, Gauhati University, coordinated the programme.
“The youth have resolved to regard the importance of volunteerism which develops capacities of youth and is one of the means for contributing towards social and economic development. The youth have agreed to address issues related to education, governance, crime and violence. But they are not sufficiently represented in formal government sector and institutions in some countries which needs to be well focused,” said Rajiv Gupta, Indian Head, at a press conference.
With regard to skill development and entrepreneurship, the Summit resolved to create and strengthen apprenticeship programmes in the BRICS institutions. It also called for documenting and disseminating success stories among the member nations agreed to include measures for providing training to small and medium enterprises and business development services, business plans and website development within its fold. The member nations agreed to bring the marginalised and vulnerable young people to the forefront for providing them an enabling environment to gain access to education, healthcare including reproductive health and social protection services . Recommendations were made to professionals to undertake capacity building programmes for working with young people in the BRICS nations and also to create a BRICS Social Science Youth Research Network.
“The youth should be provided facilities for cross learning to gain opportunities for leadership development . Youth volunteer programmes should be recognised for acceptance across the BRICS countries. Online platforms should be established to highlight the trends, opportunities and recognise their efforts to promote exchanges on volunteerism among the BRICS nations”, said Rajiv Gupta.
The delegates carefully considered to form a BRICS Summer School in the respective countries to create a roadmap for youth exchange programmes between the BRICS nations, offering opportunities for youth to participate. It would increase youth participation in governance which is another key issue.
“For youth participation in governance and decision making process, we need to coordinate existing and create new opportunities. Facilitating the capacities of youth and their participation in public policy, programmes formulation and monitoring and evaluation constitute the priorities”, said Dong Du, Head of the Chinese delegation.
The BRICS Youth Summit took a decision to request its New Development Bank to provide financial help, promoting initiatives proposed by the BRICS countries, framing and implementing youth exchange programmes at the same time .The delegates also resolved to form a BRICS Youth Secretariat consisting of one government official and one youth representative from each nation , in the beginning for full implementation of youth initiatives as framed by the Summit.
The three-day Youth Summit was attended by Ministers, officials, youth delegations from BRICS nations. They made interactions and deliberations, sharing information and experience with regard to policy and programme implementation in the respective countries. The interactions focused on four priority areas—skill development and entrepreneurship, social inclusion, youth volunteerism and youth participation in governance. The leaders made commitments to enhance youth potentials and also to promote objectives for the overall development of these countries and to fulfil the SDGs.