Monsoon Issue - 2012

Smile Foundation



Darwin’s epic theory of evolution notes that each generation of mankind ‘needs to be’ different from the one preceding it. In fact, his theory states that every such ‘GenNext’ has to be better than its predecessors in terms of survival, as only then can mankind evolve. While science can aptly explain why youngsters today are born different in terms of physical attributes, it fails to explain the indifferent attitude that many of them, if not most, sport through a large part of their lives.

With blatant acts of misuse, abuse and waste spiralling globally, it would not be wrong to say that this GenNext is perhaps the most ‘different’ from its predecessors, in the fact that it has a shockingly high degree of indifference, towards fellow men, other species and the environment.

However, we don’t need Darwin to explain this sad reality of our times, we only need introspect.

Irrespective of our good intentions and well-meaning laws, personal, societal and systemic deficiencies over the years have exposed today’s GenNext to a highly volatile cocktail of speed, violence and drama. The youth have been so exposed to these elements that over the years they have become disillusioned and as a result, has consciously or sub-consciously chosen to become self-limited in thoughts and desires.

This attitude is the most apparent in the rich brat pack of the country, whose wayward members often make tragic headlines when they are arrested for serious offences such as drunken driving and taking drugs. While no official figures exist, we would not be very far off the mark when we estimate that about 15 to 20 per cent of GenNext falls within this privileged category.
Living convoluted, fast lives; they are either disconnected from their families or mollycoddled by them. In either case, with an abundance of money and resources at their disposal, they are independent and highly materialistic, becoming easy prey for peer pressure, often undertaking dangerous and illegal experiments only to be accepted or admired. For these youngsters indifference is a sort of a defence mechanism, a state of mind, where they can plead innocence by citing either ignorance or arrogance. However, that is not the real problem.

What is more worrisome is that little, if nothing, is being done to reach out to such misguided youth, as in most cases these youngsters make ill-informed choices because they are genuinely ignorant of what is happening around them. But thankfully, for every such irresponsible and conceited youngster, there are many more diligent and caring ones wanting to make the world better.

In fact, few realise that it is possible to change this’budding indifference’ to a passion for ‘bringing about a difference’. Smile Foundation, for one, hasn’t written off GenNext, and is instead catching them young and mentoring them in a culture of equality and sharing, by sensitizing them to the plight of millions of underprivileged ones of their own age suffering malnutrition, crime and violence across the globe.

Started in 2002 by a group of young, zealous corporate professionals wanting to make a difference in the lives of those less privileged, it is today synonymous with empowering them in various ways. It’s Child for Child (CFC) programme is one of its kind in India, wherein privileged children are sensitized and made aware of the existing social and financial disparities around them. The goal here is to plant a seed of compassion in these children so that they can act responsibly, and develop a healthy conscience, as they grow up.

The programme, through workshops, exchange programmes and sensitization sessions, tries to make the privileged kids feel anchored. The focus is on helping them realise the worth of the privileges bestowed on them, and how just a little bit of sharing can actually benefit them more than the benefactors. A roaring success, CFC has reached out to some 2, 500 schools in 16 states across the country and has positively impacted a staggering 2 million children of GenNext till date.

The way forward, is not to condemn and forsake our GenNext for their arrogant opinions, ignorant existence and thrill seeking lifestyles, but instead to sensitize them, by educating them about the existing socio-eco disparities and their good fortune of being born of the other side of the fence. Once informed, GenNext will surely rise up to the challenge of working to create a better world, by using and sharing its knowledge and resources with those less fortunate.

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