Leadership Notes #11
The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, by Daniel Coyle
An insightful book about how to spur chemistry, motivation and inspiration through a study of some of the highest performing teams and organizations.
Truth: How the Many Sides to Every Story Shape Our Reality, by Hector Macdonald
In a world of disinformation and "fake" news, this book offers both context and ways forward in dealing with and producing information.
Interview: HIMADRISH Suwan
Himadrish Suwan is the Director General of India Youth Foundation. Himadrish is a Columnist and Citizen Journalist (C.J) for several reputed dailies and magazines. For the last 2 years, he has dedicated a considerable focus towards Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (Clean India Movement). The youth wing of ruling Bhartiya Janata Party appointed him to lead the Prime Ministers national Swachh Bharat Abhiyan project.
Himadrish has received several national and international honours including the International Association of Educators for World Peace (NGO Affiliate of United Nations: ECOSOC, UNICEF, UNESCO) and Confederation of Indian Universities Global Young Achievers Award for Media & Information Activism. Himadrish also received the Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award, World Cleanliness Education Promotion and Development Prize, India’s Top 100 Young Leaders Award, National Social Work Awareness and Promotion Award, Bharat Nirman’s India Excellence Award, Youth Revolutionary Award, Global Youth Development Award and the National RTI Promotion Award.
Potolicchio: As the Director General of India's Youth Foundation what are you most optimistic about for the future of India?
Suwan: Youth is the foundation of a future rebel, a social doctor and the owners of today who carry the potential to design a better society. January 26, 1950, is a day to remember when India's constitution came into force, completing the country's transformation toward becoming a liberated republic. A new India was born, the country was smaller, younger, but with an optimistic perspective. India is still an immensely young country. More than half of its billion population is under the age of 35. With an average age of 29, India is likely to be the world’s youngest country by 2020. With Superpowers like US, South Korea, Japan and even China aging, this demographic transition and perspective offer India an unprecedented edge which could further contribute to building a New Young India by 2022, when India would celebrate 75 years of its Independence.
It is said that the 21st century is an Asian century. It can also be regarded as an Indian century. For the next few decades, India will have a youthful and fertile labour force. In fact, in the next 10 years, while the industry (labour) force in the industrialised world will shrink, in India it will increase by a larger proportion and conceivably India will rule the world by 2030.
Potolicchio: What's the biggest issue facing the world's most populous democracy?
Suwan: India’s demographic mutation is idiosyncratic. India’s comprehensive total fertility rate, measured as the number of children born to a woman, has fallen from 4.97 during 1975-1980 to 2.3 for the current period of 2015-2020. Yet that conceals vast disparities across India. In urban India, the fertility rate is well below what’s called the “replacement rate” needed to keep the population eternal. The number of children born per woman in prosperous and more developed states has fallen to levels lower even than those in countries like France, Australia, US and New Zealand.
A vast disparity across India is not good news. The maximal numbers of young minds are mainly coming from parts of India that are the most deprived of basic infrastructure, social security and disconnected from the mainstream economy. The state of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, has a fertility rate close to 3; neighbouring Bihar has a fertility rate of 3.3. Over the next years, 60% of the population increase in India would come from the least developed states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
This is not good news. If this young population would form India’s working age population, and give India an advantage over countries with a smaller working population, how can they do it from where they are, from some of the least developed and most marginalised demography? The vast majority of young people live in developing countries according to the United Nations. Globally around 85 percent of 15 to 23 years olds live in developing countries, a figure projected to grow 89.5 percent by 2025. Moreover, this majority is extremely diverse; some live in rural areas, but many inhabit the overpopulated metropolitan areas of India, Mongolia and other parts of Asia. Young lives in developing countries are defined by poverty, famine, lack of sanitation and a lack of clean water. Health problems are rife, especially due to prevalence of HIV/AIDS in certain regions. The UN estimates that 200 million young people live in poverty, 130 million are illiterate, and 10 million live with HIV/AIDS.
It is noteworthy that our present-day government realised that, without imparting skill-based training, we cannot transform it. Individual development, as we know, begins from vocational training, as it provides the fundamental bedrock for human life and individual growth. NDA government, shortly after it came to power, announced the assertive “Skill India” mission that aimed to improve skills for more than 400 million people by 2022. The Skill India initiative was created to ensure that the millions who enter the job market untrained receive vocational skill-based opportunities. Skill development holds the key to India’s future as a globally young country and the demographic dividend it hopes to garner.
Out of India’s approximately 480 million employed, less than five percent have formally recognised skills and nearly 90 percent of the country’s manpower is part of the informal sector. The government has committed itself to providing young people with skill development and vocational training so that they can find or create jobs and around 1.04 core people were skilled in 2015-16 under Skill India Mission; a quantum jump by 36.8% since last year. The new ambition and dynamism are welcome. The young population of India could be its biggest asset if appropriate skill based schemes are conceived and implemented with young India’s maximum engagement.
Mahatma Gandhi was martyred soon after Independence. The issue of sanitation and cleanliness after Gandhi has received the government's attention, though in intervals and has lacked priority. Is anybody really startled that nearly 50 per cent of India's billion-plus people have no access to toilets? Open defecation remains a vital obstacle in achieving global development goals. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 2014 Independence Day address generated some hope among the people after decades. Modi's commitment towards a Clean India was evident when he prioritised toilets in his Independence Day speech. Modi himself has taken up cleanliness and sanitation as a priority mission. Nationally, the sanitation coverage has increased from 42 per cent to over 64 per cent in just two-and- a-half years since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission. It is noteworthy that our government has finally realised that without making India "Clean", we cannot transform it. Enlightenment, as we know, begins from sanitation, as it provides the fundamental bedrock for human well-being.
Potolicchio: To understand modern India, what book should we read?
Suwan: I would suggest The Indian Renaissance: India's Rise after a Thousand Years of Decline by Sanjeev Sanyal. The Indian Renaissance is one of the best books I have read. The book traces India’s journey from feudal system to constitution, underdeveloped to developing, slavery to freedom, discrimination to justice, disparity to coherence, pale to buoyancy, and darkness to light. From our scholars struggling to seek opportunities, to the major MNC’s like Microsoft, Google and many other having Indian CEOs, we have come a long way.
Potolicchio: What's a geopolitical development for India you predict will happen that most people would be surprised by?
Suwan: Indian foreign policy is in the throes of change, ever since Narendra Modi assumed charge as Prime Minister in 2014 riding a popular mandate. As the government finishes three and half year in office, foreign policy has remained its pièce de résistance and after decades India is enduring a rugged foreign policy. The promise of metamorphose became evident at his swearing in ceremony which saw the participation of SAARC head of state and since then paradigm shift in India’s foreign policy is in pace. Now the country is in position of vigour and when we speak people perceive.
Potolicchio: Who do you most admire and why?
Suwan: I admire, I appreciate, and I respect Prime Minister Narendra Modi. No politician in India has been tainted in such an unabated manner and no one has withstood it with as much pliability and audacity as him. A common man has risen from amongst us in form of Narendra Modi, the reformer in chief. Modi's journey from a tea seller to the Prime Minister has been one of struggle, dedication, determination, hard work, and perseverance. An average Indian finds his own reflection in the struggle of Modi. He is a hope, he is an aspiration, he has committed himself, he has strong convictions, he is resilient, and he has the right intent. In three years, the administration has moved from an epoch of policy immobility to an epoch of policy primacy.
Indian faction is now admired all around the sphere and time has changed promptly. Now the World is seeing India with immense craving and buoyancy. The rings of change are swiftly moving! Nationally, the sanitation coverage has increased from 42 per cent to over 64 per cent in just two-and- a-half years since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission. Indian foreign policy is in the paroxysm of change, ever since Narendra Modi assumed charge as Prime Minister. Foreign policy has been the most visible dimension of Modi government’s term. One of the biggest success stories of India's foreign policy in the past three and half years has been the speed with which United States relations have deepened. Rather, just being a balancing force globally, Modi has etched out an assertive role for India that seeks to make it a leading power. It is noteworthy that our present-day government realised that, without imparting youth skill-based training, we cannot transform it. Individual development, as we know, begins from vocational training, as it provides the fundamental bedrock for human life and individual growth. NDA government shortly after it came to power announced the assertive Skill India initiative to ensure that the millions, who enter the job market untrained, receive vocational skill-based opportunities. Skill development holds the key to India’s future as a globally young country and the demographic dividend it hopes to garner. Plaudits to him and his zeal.