The Optimist Citizen

A young man’s SKILLful attempt to voice the demands of hundreds of students


With a Youth population of around 356 million, India lies at the forefront of harnessing the exuberant youth power. But what gets portrayed in numbers lacks heavily in value. With a dismal rate of employability and necessary skills, there lies a huge gap between our prevalent education system and the youth.

 During a survey ‘mindset mapping’, Sonal Roshan, a young man from Assam found out that only 12% of the total graduates in the country had the skills to be termed as employable. The remaining, as data stated, were not skilled enough for unemployment. “I found the scenario shocking. If such large number of Youth are unemployable, then there must be a gap between such students and the education system”, explains Sonal, a fellow of the UNMANIFESTO campaign. It was a nationwide campaign initiated by CYC-PRAVAH and supported by UNFPA in the year 2014 and ran for a period of 3 months in 2015. With the objective of engaging youth participation in the political process and bringing social inclusion and effectively involving government bodies for a change, this campaign ran across 20 states and Union Territories of the country.


Under the campaign, this issue became Sonal’s chief focus. He wanted to collect various demands of school students and youth and wanted to present those to the appropriate local representatives to be considered as a part of their manifestos. “People think that children cannot raise their voices and present their demands because they are not matured and wise enough to make a difference in the system. But what they face can be best expressed only by them”, mentions Sonal.

Under this 3 months long campaign, Sonal conducted workshops in various schools and youth organizations in Guwahati and collected the demands of the children and the youth. After consulting some experts and advisors, he compiled those demands into a charter comprising of 10 major demands. He presented this charter to the chairperson of the Assam State Commission of Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) and various other public representatives and obtained positive response from some of them. The chairperson of ASCPCR has agreed to take the demands into consideration and work accordingly.

“After raising their demands, the children now feel more responsible towards their own system and are looking forward to positive changes in the policies”, said Sonal. He also conducted a petition campaign in which he collected petitions from various people in Guwahati to support his demand report.

Brought up in Silchar, Sonal did his B.Com and was training to be a Chartered Accountant. It was after an unexpected contact with his childhood friend, Indrajeet, after many years that he was exposed to the social sector. He joined Indrajeet’s organization, WAY FOUNDATION, in which they empowered young people with Life Skills. “After joining WAY Foundation in 2014, I have developed my own personality, communication skills. It feels great to be a part of this. Indrajeet has helped me a lot”, gladly mentions Sonal. Indrajeet is a Changelooms Fellow who introduced Sonal to the UnManifesto campaign in 2015 and motivated him to join it. “I was skeptical at first, but then joined it and now I feel myself to be a part of a ‘change’. This campaign has also helped me to develop myself, polish my skills and way of working”, says Sonal.

He wishes to take this initiative forward and reach out to more public representatives with strengthened voices of children and strive until their demands are met and a ‘change’ is brought about.

Piyuli Ghosh|TOC


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