Brief Speech - International Youth Day - 12th August 2013

12 Aug 2013

Excerpts of Hemant Batra's Speech at International Youth Hostel, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi on 12th August 2013

"When I was invited to preside the Seminar organised by the Mahatma Gandhi Global Foundation on the occasion of International Youth Day designated as such by UN for 12th August, I thought rather I asked myself whether I am youthful enough to address the youth; given the fact that the definition of `youth' as assigned by UN declares a person as youth if one falls within the age bracket of 15-24. I am definitely way beyond that bracket. But then I was reminded that its never too late to be young and feel young. As it is, age is in the mind and if you don't mind your age, you may always be young. My natural clock may state that I am 40 but my mind and heart disbelieve the natural clock. So here I am amongst all of you youthful friends.

As we all know that on the advise and recommendation of World Conference of Ministers for Youth, the General Assembly of UN endorsed the resolution in December, 1999 to designate 12th August as the International Youth Day. The first time the said day was commemorated on 12th August, 2000. Each year a new theme is assigned and this year the theme being `Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward'. I take pride in sharing it with you that in the course of commemorating the International Youth Day this year, the Secretary General of UN, Mr. Ban Ki Moon met a team of young boys an girls from 5 countries belonging to 5 different continents with India being one of the countries apart from Brazil, Nigeria, Lebanon and Brussels.

The current year's them of youth migration has been found to be very fundamental for the development of youth as a result of globalisation. When you think of opportunity, you think of migration; when you think of one world, you think of migration; when you think of shrinking of borders, you think of migration. Migration brings opportunities for youth but it also brings in its manifold risks of discrimination and exploitation in its manifold. The statistics of 2010 provide that youth constituted 27 million of the total migration. The youth cross-border migration has been phenomenal. Its important the we also realize the risk of getting sucked into crime, human trafficking, prostitution etc. whilst migrating. This year's them has been formulated to bring about awareness amongst the youth of various dimensions attached with migration.

Finally, I will close my address by sharing an insightful thought with all of you, there was a young boy who got into a healthy habit of taking morning walks along the beachside of the sea near his home. Each day he noticed that hundreds of star fish got thrown onto the shore - beach by high sea tides and when tides used to recede most of these fish will stay put to suffer and die on the shore. He used to feel very bad an helpless; but one day he decided to throw the suffering fish back into the sea so they could survive. Obviously, he could throw only a few back into the sea. He was noticed doing this rescue work by one old man. That old man one day questioned him that what difference does it make because you are able to throw back only a handful of fish out of hundreds of these fish which lie there dying. The young boy picked up one fish and while throwing it back into the sea, he told the old man 'it made difference to this particular fish'.

So all of you must remember that never weigh the extent of help you can give and never be judgemental whilst helping anyone. Even a tiny help can mean a lot to the one who is helped........

God Bless!!"

*Hemant Batra is Secretary General of SAARCLAW, a regional apex body of SAARC; He is Chairman of Kaden Boriss, Lawyers - India; and Consultant to UNDP & UNAIDS.