The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
– Mahatma Gandhi
India is known for its historical tradition of giving or volunteering. While many anecdotal references can be found in the ancient religious scriptures and texts, India’s most recent and largest volunteering initiative was the struggle for freedom. People from all over the country, from farmers to students and housewives, all came together voluntarily for a single cause they all believed in – India’s independence.
We have come a long way since then. On 15th August 2019, India celebrates its 73rd Independence Day. As a country, we pay tribute and remember all the freedom fighters who gave up so much for the country’s Independence. They truly set the spirit of volunteerism for India, and this has not declined over the years.
On the contrary, India continues to address the social, economic, regional and gender inequalities through campaigns and drives which are voluntary in nature. Government, Industry and communities across the country routinely pledge their services for shramdaan (voluntary labour), for initiatives like cleanliness drives, adoption of villages, tree plantation, education and skill training, among others.
At CII, through the India@75 campaign, we are working with different stakeholders to realise the vision of an inclusively developed India by 2022 when the country completes 75 years of Independence. It is our constant endeavor to create enabling platforms for the convergence of all stakeholders including Government, industry, and civil society to come together and work towards this common goal.
To achieve the development objective, it is imperative that we create a platform to bring all the stakeholders together. For this purpose, CII celebrate India@75 Week in August each year to discuss, deliberate and realign our efforts. The Week commences on 8th August which coincides with the birth anniversary of Late Prof C K Prahalad, famed management guru who placed India on the investment map. It culminates on the eve of our Independence Day.
Through the Week, CII organizes an array of events such as conclaves, workshops, panel discussions, and volunteering activities to encourage and facilitate the convergence of the stakeholders while upholding and celebrating volunteerism. Volunteers bring together ideas and efforts that enable stakeholders to collaborate and leverage each other’s knowledge, experience and skills in the form of different activities and programs.
As per the 2011 Census, youth (15-24 years) in India constitutes one-fifth of its total population. India is expected to have 34.33% share of youth in total population by 2020. The involvement of India’s youth in development and societal activities could be stepped up.
In 2017, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports developed the first of its kind report on State of Youth Volunteers in India (SYVI). The report showed that voluntary work is considered relatively low by the generation. The youth are the future of the country and a step towards mandatory volunteerism can help them to action their responsibility towards the society. India@75 Week presents an opportunity for them to do so.
Over the Week, many volunteers have joined hands for efforts in education, healthcare, awareness programs, and cleanliness. Since 2014, the volunteerism endeavour has reached out to over 16.5 million people.
“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.” These words by author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou define the values and principles of philanthropy and service to others, of doing good without the expectation of getting a reward. As we celebrate our Independence Day, volunteerism is an act that all of us can incorporate in our lives to give back to society.