As part of India’s G20 Presidency, the Youth20 group’s first inception meeting was held at Guwahati from 6th-8th February to consult the youth of the nation on ideas for a better tomorrow and draft an agenda for action on five identified Y20 themes.
In the run-up to the event, 10,000 youth in around 36 colleges of Assam participated in the Seminar, debate, workshops, and quiz competitions on Y20. Over 10 lakh students from around 4000 schools also participated.
During the inception meeting, 21 foreign delegates and 200 Indian delegates participated in the main events. On 6th February, an ice-breaker session was held followed by a cultural night. Singer Papon gave a performance at the Brahmaputra Sandbar Island during the cultural night.
On 7th February, 2023, Union Cabinet Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports, Shri Anurag Singh Thakur participated in a dialogue with all delegates at IIT Guwahati. He said that the Y20 group would exemplify the youth-centric efforts and the Y20 Summit would showcase policy measures ideated by the youth.
In response to a question on how women’s voices can be heard best, the Minister replied that the government believes in women-led development. The President of India is a tribal woman who has risen from a humble background only on account of her merit.
The recent budget for India was presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman; the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup is a woman, the Secretary Youth Affairs, Government of India is a woman. Women in India actively participate in framing and executing policy.
On being asked as to how India can promote the use of Ayurveda for preventive and curative purposes, the Minister stated that during the Covid pandemic, Yoga and Ayurveda were widely used both to treat and recover from illness. We continue to work on those themes.
On being asked on how start-ups can be encouraged, the Minister replied that in the last few years, India has become one of the largest ecosystems for start-ups in the world due to Government efforts. From few hundreds in 2016, as of 2022, over 84,000 start-ups have been established.During the course of Day 2 of the Inception Meeting, five panel discussions on the five themes were held at IIT Guwahati.
On the theme of ‘Peacebuilding and Reconciliation: Ushering in an Era of No War’, Gen. V. K Singh (Union Minister of State, Former Chief of Army Staff) said "it is important to build an inclusive society where everyone has the opportunity to grow and this is what we have done in India. In India, we talk to militants. We use force only as a last resort.
This is how we are able to resolve various conflicts that happen again and again and again."Tejasvi Surya (Member of Parliament from Bengaluru) said that if there is one section of the demography that gets disproportionately affected through war, it is the Youth. It's very important to have Youth at the table on all discussions pertaining to war and peace.
Lt. Gen Satish Dua (Former Army Commander and strategy expert) said that it was the job of armies to ensure peace and not wage war and India has consistently had the highest presence in UN peacekeeping forces.
Bipul Kalita alias Pradip Bharali, a resident of Sivasagar, Assam (former member of the United Liberation Front of Asom -ULFA) stated that he surrendered to the government in 2000. He said that he had joined ULFA believing Assam should not be part of India.
But they saw that they were wrong; 98% people in Assam do not support the idea of independent Assam hence they laid down arms. Now he runs a voluntary organization to help others.Binual Warry, (former member of the National Democratic Front of Boroland -NDFB) stated that he laid down arms in 2005.
He said that they had not been part of the mainstream but we realized they were wrong and wanted to join the mainstream and this is why they laid down arms.Gyanendra Pratap Singh (Director General Police, Assam) emphasized the need to understand and address the aspirations of the people as a conflict resolution mechanism.
Hiren Chandra Nath ADGP Assam talked about the efforts of the Government of Assam to reach out to militants, talk to them and persuade them to lay down arms.On the theme of Future of Work; Industry 4.0, Innovation and 21st Century Skills, Dr Uma Maheshwar, Chief Consulting Engineer at GE Aviation spoke about how Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing work and that although new technologies are disruptive, the change is for the better.
Prem Kumar, an alumnus of IIT Guwahati, founder of Marut Dronetech said that new technologies like drones have the capacity to solve problems in India and the whole world and that Indian business has a lot to offer to the world in this regard. Dr G D Dhanuka, industrialist spoke of the importance of collaboration between academia and industry.
On the theme of ‘Health, Wellbeing and Sports; Agenda for Youth’, Mrs. Sarita Devi shared her journey of how sport was a motivating factor in her life, highlighting how she went from nearly joining the insurgency to winning 7 world medals and serving her country as a world champion boxer from 2001-2020.
Dr. Ashima Haobijam spoke of how depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents, and suicide is the second leading cause of death in people. So, it is important to take issues of mental health seriously.
Shreyasi Singh highlighted the importance of sports in enhancing mental health and wellbeing. She specified that biologically, the endorphins from exercise help us have a healthy mindset, which leads to a healthy human being. She said that while there has been policy change in sports to enable more Indian athletes to excel, it is time to shift the focus to women in sports.
On 8th February, 2023, the closing ceremony was held. The Hon’ble Minister of Education, Government of Assam presented the Research Papers on the 5 themes to the Hon’ble Union Cabinet Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports. The Closing ceremony was concluded by the launch of White Papers by the Hon’ble Union Cabinet Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports.