“Be the servant while leading. Be unselfish. Have infinite patience, and success is yours” – Swami Vivekananda.
At some point in our lives, all of us question ourselves. Who are we? What are the things that define us? What the difference is between the leaders in our nation and us. Yuva Sangharsh serves as an answer to all of these questions. It is an annual Youth Leadership Contest conducted by the Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence within Hyderabad. However, in 2020, it took place nation-wide, virtually, owing to the lockdown.
I registered for the contest as somebody with the same questions as above. I was always told that my education must be of help to better the lives of people. That there must be some meaning in what I do. However, I was unsure of what my capabilities were and therefore, I registered. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this by far, has been the most grateful I have been for a decision I made. At every point of the contest, there is some form of learning. Whether it be through the research we do, the knowledge we gain about Swami Vivekananda’s life, the speeches/work given by fellow contestants or through the feedback of the judges – there is so much we gain.
I stepped into the contest as somebody who never looked at things from different perspectives. I was considerate about other’s opinions but never tried understanding what they meant. I spoke a lot of the problems our nation faced but never considered doing anything about it, because well, I was still 16 right? What could I do?
However, Yuva Sangharsh changed all of that. When you’re part of an event with 500 other people and are tensed about how you will perform, you are bound to listen to them. You are bound to understand what they say and in turn, that helps you gain different perspectives, learn new things and mould yourself into a better person. In the second round of the contest, I remember a judge asking me “What did you do about it?” when I spoke about how most of us don’t verify the news we read today. It made me realise that all I did, was point out the problems. That one incident helped me realise that it’s easy to focus on the problems one faces, but tough to look for solutions. As we go ahead through the rounds, we begin reading more about Swami Vivekananda’s learnings, about his observations, and they open up a whole new world of understanding and applying. During one of the webinars, we had a judge question us “When you know nothing of your local MP, how would you know of the world politics?”. That one question was enough to make all of us think about how none of us tries looking at problems from the grass-root level. There are many such instances through the contest that I can talk of, which shake one’s arrogance and make them think of where they are leading in life.
As you keep going through the rounds, you begin to realise that this contest is not about winning or losing, it’s about understanding yourself, getting to understand your priorities and learn. The contest is a complete package of questioning, finding answers and growing while having fun.
It makes you delve into the importance of youth in today’s society, the need for developing better character in them and bringing out the leaders in all of us. I urge the youth today, to take part in contests like these that challenge you and your thinking, every single day. Age is just a number. Swami Vivekananda achieved in 39 years, what people couldn’t in 100 years. Keep pushing yourself to learn and be better every day, to think positively, to empathise and see yourself blossom into a better human being. – Padmasritha, VIHE Yuva sangharsh 2020 winner