The month of July started with something interesting for the youth of the country. After Russia, India has taken the opportunity to host the BRICS Youth Summit this year. The Summit was held between 1 and 3 July, 2016 in Guwahati, Assam. The city of Guwahati, often referred to as the gateway to the North East, was an excellent host and about 50 delegates from all the member nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – converged to attend the summit. Apart from young visionaries and participants, the delegates included ministers and youth affairs authorities from the BRICS nations. The BRICS Youth Summit comes as a prelude to the the eighth annual BRICS summit scheduled to be held in Goa this year in October.
The theme for this year’s BRICS Youth Summit was ‘Youth as bridge for intra-BRICS exchanges’. This highlights the role of youth in enhanced contact among the people of the BRICS member nations. The Summit was inaugurated by Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The opening session and welcome address by the BRICS members stressed on the increased need for collaboration and cooperation between the nations. The Indian youth delegation was headed by Jitender Singh, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports.
The three-day BRICS Youth Summit 2016 was inaugurated on the lawns of the Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok. The delegates were given a warm, traditional Assamese welcome. The opening day was spent in welcome address and discussions pertaining to youth affairs with special emphasis on sports. The second day of the summit opened with a yoga and meditation session. On this day there were four working sessions . A colourful programme of cultural performances marked the evening and this was followed by a banquet dinner. The third and final day also opened to a yoga and meditation session. This was followed by a presentation of the working sessions reports. Finally, the delegates agreed upon and adopted the Call for Action of the Guwahati BRICS Youth Summit. The delegates were also given the opportunity to meet and interact with India’s External Affairs Minister and with senior officials of the Assam government.
Focus of the Summit
The BRICS Youth Summit was an excellent platform for the youth of the member nations to connect and discuss the fields where younger generations can increasingly contribute towards nation-building and find empowerment. One of the main emphasis of the discussions was on skills development for the youth and on entrepreneurship initiatives. The delegates discussed various schemes and methods and the gaps in skills development programs in their respective countries. Another major issue that seemed common to all member nations was social inclusion and building up an all-embracing social fabric. Apart from their needs, the youth delegates of the BRICS Summit also discussed fields where they could contribute towards building a strong nation. They endorsed youth volunteerism and said that if their countries need to develop with a futuristic vision, the younger lot must come forward and take active interest in governance and administration.
Emphasis on Collaboration and Cultural Exchanges
Communication, collaboration and cultural exchanges between the youth of the BRICS member nations were highly stressed upon in the three day summit. Russian Minister Sergey Pospelov proposed that the power of social networking be harnessed for enhanced communication. He proposed the setting up of a virtual secretariat that will allow the Youth Forum of the BRICS to communicate seamlessly.
The orchestra from the Gauhati University performed in front of the delegation and garnered much appreciation. The Russian minister was very impressed and invited the orchestra to perform at the International Festival of Youths and Students to be held in the country next year. Both the Brazilian and the Chinese delegation leaders appreciated the open forum for exchange of communication and youth affairs.
Shift of Power
One of the key outcomes of the Guwahati BRICS Youth Summit 2016, was a “Call to Action”. The delegates voiced a strong need for the shift of power from western nations to member countries. The younger generations from the five member nations must now come together and work to wresting economic, political and social power from the west. “The youth of our nations can suggest how the demographic dividends of us can be used to shift the power from the West to the BRICS…It is encouraging that the young people are ready and hungry to be citizens of a better nation”, said Khathulshelo Ramukumba, the leader of the South African youth delegation to the summit. This ‘Call to Action’ shall be presented to the delegates at the eighth annual BRICS summit to be held later this year.