National Youth Day: Swami Vivekananda & His global relevance

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Ravi Shankar Chand
Swami Vivekananda, in his famous address to the Parliament in Chicago in the year 1893, spoke on several factors which are relevant to issues in present-day India as much as in the world. On September 11, 1893, Swami Vivekananda represented India and Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Held from September 11 to 27 that year, this was the first Parliament of the World’s Religions, and delegates from all over the world had joined this Parliament. Swami Vivekananda spoke about the importance of abolishing fanaticism in all forms, a relevant issue in the world, especially our country which is not only one of the oldest but is also one of the youngest in terms of the population. Vivekananda had received a standing ovation for two minutes after his speech which went on to establish him as the greatest figure in the Parliament of World Religions and India as the mother of religions.
He had visualised India’s pre-ordained destiny of taking on the mantle of the world’s leadership. This would not only be in the realm of spirituality but also in every other sphere be it economic, political or social. He called for capacity building in science and technology. Influenced by Swamiji’s words, pioneer industrialist Sir Jamshedji Tata spearheaded the formation Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore alongside his famous steel plant. Sir JC Bose drew inspiration from his thoughts and went on to give India its rightful place in the world of science. Today, our advances in science and technology have made the world stand up and listen to us but Swami Vivekananda had asserted the need for capacity building a century ago.
In 1921, Mahatma Gandhi after visiting Belur math wrote in the visitor's book, “I have thoroughly read the works of Swami Vivekananda. My patriotism increased by 1000 times after reading him.”
For swami Vivekananda, India was not just a geographical unit. According to him, India is an extraordinary reality that was not limited to geographical boundaries. To him, India was an extraordinary principle that will rule the world.
Swami ji believed that the revival of India depends on the youth of the country. He had tremendous faith in Indian youth. He used to say that a thousand dedicated youth can revolutionise this country. He pointed out that the youth should have the spirit of philanthropy, service and feelings for the fellow countrymen.
Swami ji was very optimistic about India regaining its position of ‘Spiritual Guru'. He predicted that future of India will far exceed its past glory. Now, the younger people are awakening, asking questions. Slowly but surely, we'll be become more enlightened people.
Swami ji also had a vision for the kind of education that the people of India needed. He was not in favour of just career-oriented education. He talked about ‘true education' that will make your character besides boosting your self-confidence. Unfortunately, that kind of education is not available today. The New Education Policy 2020 however incorporates by his thoughts. Swami Vivekananda had incredible understanding and knowledge of philosophy, religion, literature, Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads and New Education Policy 2020 has space for it.
Over a century ago and long before communications technology and capitalism promoted the idea of a global village, India offered the world a truly global citizen in Swami Vivekananda. He declared that man's quest for peace would remain incomplete so long as the West failed to acknowledge the spiritual and civilisational advances made by India and blend these thoughts with the ideas of modernity and progress. Likewise, he advised his countrymen to pay attention to national integration, cut through societal hierarchies and meaningless rituals, pursue a path of modernisation alongside spiritual development. and bind all citizens to the task of once again making India a world leader.
Swami Vivekananda's weapons of winning the world were education and peace. He always portrayed himself as a 'Nationalist Saint' who wanted the youth to get out of their comfort zones and achieve absolutely anything they desire.
Swami Vivekananda had incredible understanding and knowledge of philosophy, religion, literature, Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, and what not.
In all the classes he took overseas, all the speeches he made, every word uttered by him was backed up intensive research and thorough knowledge of the concerned subject.
Swami Vivekananda's aspiration was to motivate the youth to an extent that they start voicing the changes they desire and ultimately accomplish them. In order to honour his vision and motivate youth to act on it, National Youth Day is celebrated across the country.
Today people of India origin abroad consider Swamijee as an Icon for youth and nation-building and take aspiration. Friends of India CSR Events along with Consulate General of India, Dubai has organised a virtual event “Vivek 158” which will be graced by Sister BK Shivani. Thousand of Indian living in UAE are to join the event.
(The writer is Higher education leader and community leader in UAE; Secretary, Friends of India UAE and Executive Member: PIOCCI, People of India Origin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, UAE)