In 2012-2013, Amita Dahiya, national UN Volunteer, supported the post-2015 national consultations which addressed women's associations, civil society and youth organizations among other constituencies. As part of the UNV Field Unit team, she successfully engaged Indian NGOs and VIOs, including civil society and youth organizations, to contribute to the national consultations.
UNV also positively engaged with the national government to promote an enabling environment for volunteerism in India. Also thanks to their contribution, the National Youth Policy 2014 states that "volunteerism as means to instil social values. Therefore, youth participation in development activities and community service – especially in marginalized areas – are to be encouraged".
Amita and her colleagues at UNV India also mobilized volunteer organizations that in turn engaged thousands of nationals to vote in the MY World survey.
Building on its commitment to the MDGs, India has responded to the call of the UN Secretary-General for inclusive-broad based consultations on the post-2015 development agenda. Beginning in September 2012, eight national convenors, representing the government, trade unions, industry, women's associations, farmer's associations, research institutions, civil society and youth organizations undertook constituency-based consultations throughout the country.
National Convenors organized more than 75 community, state, regional and national constituency-based consultations in 24 states and Union Territories between September 2012 and February 2013. An estimated 15,000 people participated in the consultations, 25% of whom were women; thousands of organizations, with collective representative membership of 400 million from across India, were involved in the process.
The results of the constituency consultations were shared at a National Validation workshop facilitated by the United Nations Resident Coordinator and attended by the Ministry of External Affairs. The National Consultation Report summarizes recommendations from a national consultation on the post-2015 development framework and include reports from a range of national convenors including the Government of India, trade unions, industry groups, women’s associations, farmer’s associations, research institutions, civil society networks and youth organizations.
Volunteerism in Post-2015 Development Agenda
Volunteerism allows people to bring their energy and creativity into development work and shapes their attitudes and behaviours resulting in wholesome development as they attain valuable employment and life skills.
The post-2015 development agenda and the 12th Five-Year Plan of India, in addition to the draft National Youth Policy (2012), offer an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen sustainable development by promoting enabling environment for volunteerism in India.
Youth constituency consultations were organized in five regions involving over 100 youth organizations across India. The Youth constituency under the post-2015 development agenda national consultation recommends providing youth more opportunities to participate and contribute to the social, political, economic development of India and as well as creating youth-friendly policies and services for their empowerment and well-being.
The Youth constituency further suggests to provide volunteering opportunities to youth in social change programmes and groups to improve life skills of young people; the establishment of youth volunteering committees for monitoring, protecting and creating awareness on issues such as sustainable environmental practices. The recommendations of the Youth constituency are available in the India National Consultation Report at page 90.
As a rapidly developing nation of 1.2 billion people, India's greatest and most valuable human resource is its vibrant and dynamic segment–youth. The total youth population (10–35 years) in the country was 563 million as per Census 2011 with an estimated 358 million people in the age group of 10-24 years (31% of the country's population).
The Twelfth five-year plan (2012-17) recommends strengthening higher education's linkages with the society by involving students in the local and regional development through a well-coordinated approach. A Youth Development Index to serve as a ready reckoner for educators and policy-makers is proposed. There would be focus on developing qualities of good citizenship and community service amongst the youth and inculcating in them the spirit of volunteerism.
The plan also recommends revamping and strengthening youth volunteering schemes of Government of India including the National Service Scheme (NSS) with a proposed expansion from the existing 3.3 million volunteer base by .5 million per annum over the next five years. Priorities would be given to regions where volunteer enrolment has been low and special drives would be carried out to encourage more women to volunteer. A National Youth Centre at Delhi and five regional centres including one for the North Eastern Region would be established in 2012-17.
The Draft National Youth Policy 2012 puts emphasis on instilling the spirit of volunteerism amongst youth, and creating appropriate platforms to involve them in community service activities. The policy emphatically gives importance to employment and skill development of young people. The two thrust areas are:
1) Empowering youth through employment and entrepreneurship opportunities;
2) Providing education – formal, non-formal and continuous learning.
The Policy also proposes to develop a Youth Development Index move substantially towards setting monitorable goals for youth development and youth participation in nation building.
The UNV Field Unit in India has mobilized thousands of Indians to vote for the MY World Survey. Where internet or mobile options were not available, UNV's partners at the grassroots level supported the offline survey reaching out to people from all walks of life—including youth, women, tribal, marginalized and poor — so that their opinions could be taken into consideration.
As of September 2013, more than 15,000 votes from 11 Indian states covering all the four regions were collected. Of the total votes, more than 11,000 were collected "offline" through paper ballots. About 200 volunteers joined the initiative and contributed approximately 2300 hours to distribute and discuss the survey with respondents in most remote communities.
On 25 September, United Nations representatives, Goodwill Ambassadors, members of the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and representatives of civil society organizations from around the world gathered in New York to publicly announce the winners of the MY World Partner Recognition Awards.
Richard Dictus, Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, presented the award to the winner of the volunteerism category: the Peace Gong Kashmir Bureau, a children's newspaper run by dedicated volunteers in India. An initiative of the Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore Foundation, Peace Gong promotes volunteerism and media literacy education towards a culture of peace and sustainable development by bringing together children and youth from diverse cultures, backgrounds, regions and communities. Read more
MY World survey roll-out across India
August 2013: The Peace Gong Kashmir Bureau collected more than 360 votes in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, reaching out to students, youth and young professionals in more than 10 districts of the state including far-flung rural areas and villages. Youth for Human Rights International – Cuddalore Chapter mobilized 4063 votes in Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory Puducherry, through the offline survey and more than 1500 through the online survey. Of these, about 1000 votes came from the tribals, marginalized and poor people from the remote areas. In Mandi Govindgarh, Punjab, NGO Hara Samaj Khara Samaj (HSKS) organized the offline survey in Desh Bhagat University in August and mobilized about 3255 votes including votes from the students and staff of the university.
July 2013: More than forty youth supported the MY World offline survey with the backing of Anant Vikas trust in village Gomla, Haryana, 125 kms from Delhi. The youth brigade of volunteers was able to collect more than 70 votes from the villagers. Because of PIDT mobilization efforts, 388 tribal, marginalized, poor people and youth submitted their votes in Jharkhand. Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth development (RGNIYD) organized a voting session in the university campus in Tamil Nadu. 42 students of RGNIYD representing more than 12 Indian States participated in the survey.
June 2013: In Kerala, a team of 20 enthusiastic youth supported by AFRC INDIA took it upon themselves to reach out to their communities in Wayanad District of Kerala to hear their unique perspectives for a better world. For nine days, this team of youth volunteers traveled extensively throughout the district and collected approximately 675 votes, exhibiting the great role volunteers could play in development efforts.
May 2013: In Delhi, more than 100 students, teachers and other participants voted through the offline survey during Children's Social Conclave, 2013 organized by People's Institute for Development and Training (PIDT), UNV and others to mark Global Youth Service Day.
April 2013: In Mumbai, Maharashtra, about 30 school principals and teachers participated in the survey organized and supported by Anant Vikas Trust and UNV. In Assam, the members of the SUROVI Shishu Panchayat (children's assembly) and Peace Gong reached out to more than 130 children and youth in slum and remote areas of Guwahati between 18-24 April 2013.
March 2013: In Karnataka, the students of Social Work of BSW College run by Belgaum Integrated Rural Development Society (BIRDS) reached out to more than 1000 tribal, marginalized and poor households from the remote areas near Belgaum. The survey was translated in Kannada, a language the people speak.
The Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD) in collaboration with United Nations Volunteers (UNV) organized a national conference on Youth, Volunteerism and Sustainable Development on 29-31 October 2012 at the RGNIYD campus in Sriperumbudur, Chennai.
Participants from various sectors such as academics, research scholars, professionals, youth groups, activists, government officers, corporations, non-government organizations, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community (LGBT), disabled and other minority groups— representing more than 15 Indian states, including far-flung areas of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh - joined the first-of-its-kind gathering in India focusing on the inclusion of youth and volunteerism in the post-2015 development discussions.
The overarching goal of the conference was to develop a framework of action to promote youth engagement through volunteerism in enhancement of human development, peace and conflict resolution and inclusive sustainable development; and to further the centrality of community level volunteering in national policy discussions for achieving MDGs and post -2015 development agenda.
The three days of intense deliberations included special addresses and panel discussions by experts and eminent people; group discussions and paper presentations focusing on Volunteerism for Inclusive Human Development for Sustainable Progress, Peace and Security, Economic Development and Fighting Inequality, Ecological Security, and Knowledge Society for Sustainable Development, etc. The forum also emphasized that the post-2015 development agenda should embrace strategies for the inclusion of transgender and other minority communities, which in turn, would bring additional value and effectiveness in the outcome of the MDGs and beyond.
UNV publication "Volunteering in India: Contexts, Perspectives and Discourses" launched on International Volunteers Day, 2012 UNV launched its flagship publication, 'Volunteering in India: Contexts, Perspectives and Discourses' for promoting the added value that volunteers bring to national development priorities. The publication presents the viewpoints and experiences of eminent people and volunteers from different disciplines on the ethos, tradition and diversity of volunteering in the Indian context.
"The Government of India is committed to promote and recognize the important role volunteers could play in national development," said Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (MOYAS) (Independent Charge) and Minister of State for Defence, Government of India. "The values of volunteerism are relevant in strengthening a community's capacity to achieve secure livelihoods, and to enhance physical, economic, spiritual and social well-being," he further added. The Hon'ble Minister also recommended engaging the country's youth— a potential and powerful resource — for nation building.
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