Our Youth Our Future Essay

Today, being not only a global citizen, but also a student, I realise that I have a moral responsibility towards the environment

From a very young age, I have been hearing phrases such as “Go Green” and “Save the Environment”. Little did I know that I would grow up to be one of those teenagers that can’t stand a small plastic bag being disposed in the trash bin when there is an option of using a recycle bin.

Almost every country in the world has issued its own set of environmental laws. According to me, that notion is the starting point of ridding this Earth of environmental disasters. Laws are important because they keep the society intact. More often than not, laws are the only weapons capable of controlling the activities of modern age. Environmental laws are no different from other laws that have been in place for centuries.

However, I firmly believe that without environmental awareness and a sense of responsibility towards the environment, these laws will not serve their purpose. Along with laws, the governments are also supporting various kinds of campaigns held by people of all ages.

Today, being not only a global citizen, but also a student, I realise that I have a moral responsibility towards the environment. It is the youth of today that is going to bear the consequences of the actions of today. It is our duty to ensure that our actions only do well to the environment and do not cause any more harm than what is already done. As the young generation, our voice matters. Our words are starting to matter.

With the UAE government continuously being supportive, students are now working together as one team towards a common goal. For example, two years ago, I established a volunteer group named ‘Miracle Dynamos’. This student group works towards making the world a more environment friendly place to live in.

The youth of today is the future of tomorrow. We owe so much to this planet after all the opportunities and education that we have been provided with. The least we can do is to ensure that mankind nurtures mother Earth forever. To me and probably to the youth across the world, this is just the beginning of us taking over environmentally.

— The reader is an Indian student based in Dubai

I am sure that my last few articles have been as depressing to read, as they were for me to write. But things are really not that bleak. This week I am hoping to share my good cheer with my readers.

All generations improve upon their predecessors. Were they not to, the world would become static or worse, regress.

In my childhood the highest tech thing available at home was a radiogram. It needed a minute or so to warm up before it could play. And the gramophone played 75 RPM discs. My children grew up to see TV and VCRs and, the earliest computers for children. And, my son, who is in Norway, troubleshoots my laptop by remote control from there, if I remember not to switch it off at night; which I often forget!

My grandchildren can make my phone malfunction for a prank and fix it back for me. Thank God they don’t do so very often. Each of them is smarter than I could imagine being, at their age. Like all ‘oldies’ I too get nostalgic about my childhood and youth but, I make a point of telling all my progeny that, one and all, they are better than I. But the present generation continues to amaze me. My first experience of their courage and determination was after the earthquake of 2005. Young boys and girls, from schools, colleges, and universities, flocked to help.

Many of the girls were from conservative families whose females are not allowed to stay out after dark. But they came, some in defiance of their parents’ orders; came to help the suffering of the affected populace. The army organized separate camps for girls; but that was unknown to them when they left.

Their sympathy, empathy, determination and pain was writ large on their faces. Burqa-clad girls mingled with boys and soldiers to help. They tramped distances, distributed food, clothing, blankets, bedding, utensils, and whatever else was available to return to bed tired, dirty, and hungry, but proud and happy. Up again at the crack of dawn, day after day. I saw many of them comforting children and even help feed some toddlers.

The floods in 2007, 2010, and again in 2011 saw repetition of the same scenes. If nature was going to challenge their determination and resilience by the frequency of natural disasters, they accepted the challenge and won.

Perhaps, in the 2018 elections, I hope to see, a ‘young’ political party emerge. A party that does what Khan promised but failed to do; refuse tickets to anyone over 45

In the heart of Islamabad is the Red Mosque, Lal Masjid. Two brothers who were the clerics of this mosque and ran the nearby Jamia Hafsa Madrassah nearby have been spewing hate and religious discord from their beginnings but no one dared challenge them.

In 2007, numerous incidents forced the army to attack the mosque. While I have no intention of retracing that event, I will be remiss if I fail to mention that, in my opinion, Musharaf deliberately permitted matters to deteriorate till no option was left him. He did so because he was under pressure for having sacked the CJ and desperately needed a diversion.

The pertinent point here is that neither Musharraf nor any of his political successors could muster the courage to file a complaint against the surviving brother who is still the cleric of Lal Masjid and continues to spew the same spiel. A FIR was finally lodged in 2014.

Some political figures, who had merely joined the protesters at the last minute, claimed the credit for this but, it was actually due to the courage and determination of a group of youngsters who refused to succumb to all pressure till the complaint was registered and the cowardly resistant politico-administrative elite wilted.

Imran Khan’s sole real achievement is how he motivated the youth to political awareness before the 2013 elections. Other political parties followed suit but, none had the ardent support that Khan had. Many of his supporters took part in the Lal Masjid protest movement but not the great Khan or any of his ‘electable’ supporters.

While the rise of religious extremism is frequently noted, few seem aware of the fact that the bulk of opposition to all extremism is to be found in the youth. Regretfully, our system of education fails to encourage reasoning and inquisitiveness. And yet, it is from among these that male and female Mashal Khans continue to be born.

Mashal and Mukhtaran Mais (another has just been born) and Malalas; courageous and determined to oppose repression and extremism.

Islamabad is referred to as “a city 10 miles West of Pakistan”. That is due to its planned design but also because it is a city for the elite; considerably more expensive to live in compared to its twin, Rawalpindi. And yet, with or without a call from the administration the ‘keep Islamabad clean’ drive has many takers among the youth. These ‘spoilt brats’ are regularly seen picking up litter in sun, rain, heat or cold.

The other day as I left the NDC I saw some young students wearing sashes reading ‘police Volunteers’. They were advising traffic violators to abide by traffic rules.

I find the youth of this generation inspiring. Our generation has wreaked its share of havoc, I am hoping the youth will reset the course for this benighted country. Perhaps, in the 2018 elections, I hope to see, a ‘young’ political party emerge. A party that does what Khan promised but failed to do; refuse tickets to anyone over 45.

I hope I live to see that happen. That is my ray of hope.

 

The writer is a retired brigadier. He is also former vice president and founder of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI)

 

 

Published in Daily Times, August 6th 2017.

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