Youth is that wonderful time in life when energy is limitless, human creativity is at its best and the ‘never say die’ spirit is at its peak. Today, one keeps seeing and reading about the achievements of hundreds of young people in practically all spheres of life. Demographically, the India of today is at its youngest best. Nearly 78 percent of India’s population is less than 40 years old. Imagine the potential energy in these millions of young Indians and you can then fathom the fact that we could face any challenge as a Nation. Youth is also an impressionable age wherein we try and model our life against that of a ‘role model’ or ‘icon’. This is the time when one is ready to take on tasks however onerous they are; the time when ideals can drive and determine one’s actions. This is the time when we are easily motivated by the environment and by what we see and value around us. Swami Vivekananda mentioned repeatedly, “My faith is in the younger generation”. His clarion call to the youth was to focus their collective energies towards Nation Building. Amongst the many inspirational writings of his, one that conveys what the youth can do is his call to focus on the 3 ‘H’s.

The first ‘H’ that he writes about is the ‘Heart’ to feel. He wanted every one to feel for the poor, the downtrodden and the marginalized. He wanted us to feel till our head reeled and our hearts stopped. Only with the power of emotion driving us, can one inspire oneself or others to think beyond the ordinary mundane existence. While an emotional reaction in isolation has its own limitations, Swamiji wanted one to go beyond and bring in the thinking that is required for appropriate action.

Finding solutions to the complex social, economic, infrastructural, political and poverty-related problems that India faces today is indeed a great challenge. This challenge needs enormous energy, a fresh new perspective, a grandiose vision and superhuman effort. Our response to solve these issues cannot be emotional. We need to think through, strategize and then arrive at a workable, well thought-out solution. Swamiji called this cognitive phase as the second ‘H’ – the ‘Head’ to think.

Merely feeling for the poor and thinking through a solution is by itself a meaningless exercise. One needs to be able to implement the plans and strategies that we conceive of. This is the third ‘H’ that Swamiji wrote about. We need the ‘Hands’ to work too. We need to convert our emotions into concrete strategies and have the discipline and willingness to apply ourselves to the task of translating them into pragmatic action. Only then can the young of today help in realizing Swami Vivekananda’s dreams for India.

A illustration of this could be seen in the recent anti-corruption movement that we saw in India. The youth of this country responded to the issue emotionally and joined in the thousands to protest against corruption. If only, they had spent some time in thinking through the problem, strategizing a solution framework and then implementing it, we could have possibly made a better impact. The heart and hands were surely there, but a head in-between would have made a huge difference.

Kannada version in Prajavani (23-Feb-12)