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Unleashing the Youth Power through Cafes!

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Youth Inclusion in Systems: I have been vocal about youth rights, enabling physical safe spaces for youth. Quality Spaces which are dedicated to serving the cause of young engagement and empowerment. Spaces which enable an adolescent in a smooth transition to adulthood while helping in identity formation and proper cognitive growth. There are many institutes for a young person to visit today namely, schools, colleges, skilling institutes, companies, etc. However, all these institutes instill a feeling of competition rather than much-needed collaboration. We all know that India is going to be the youngest nation in the World(with more than 670 million people below the age of 25) for at least the next two decades. According to United Nations World Youth report, as India and many other developing nations move towards industrialization, urbanization, and skill dependent business activities, the fertility and share of the population comprising of children is set to decline. This phenomenon of “Youth Bulge” poses great challenges for the socio-economic condition in India, while at the same time also presents vast opportunities for Young India, only if this share of the population is included in the formal decision-making process and young people are involved in local policymaking. The participation of the Youth is a major feature to be looked upon and how we engage our youth in the community and the World at large and provide leadership skills through informal collaborative activities shall primarily drive the socio-economic growth in our country in the future. The Youth already speaks out, We just need to be heard.

#IndiaNeedYouthCafes: Youth Cafe, a model hugely successful in Ireland have created impact at grassroots and have enabled many young people and adolescents to identify their talents early when they attain puberty. Youth Cafes have also enabled spaces where youth have openly talked about the matters of civic importance on one hand and acted on them, while involved themselves in recreational and collaborative activities on the other. The spaces have played an important role in providing the youth an opportunity to attain much-needed leadership skills as they grow to become a responsible adult. Similarly, We also wish this kind of solutions to engage and empower youth can lead to positive changes around the community and in India at large. Safe spaces designed especially for the Youth in conflict zones such as Kashmir can enable a positive and cohesive environment around the issues they face and enable to realize positive mental growth. If we provide more opportunities for Youth by enabling physical spaces where they can engage in meaningful conversations- a lot of issues over the radicalization of Youth can be solved.

I have always strived to bridge the pervasive offline disconnect among the Youth and break the cultural, religious and caste-based boundaries to enable collaboration among the Youth. I wish to keep doing it until the youth wakes up to realize their full potential in a nation like India.

About the author:

Sehaj Sahni is a social entrepreneur and youth activist from Chennai, India A mechanical engineering graduate who worked with MNC from 2012–15 as a quality analyst and organizational blogger before he parted ways to start, Indian Youth Cafe- an experiential project designed to bridge the offline disconnect. He has been an active advocate for Youth rights and freedom of expression and have worked relentlessly to create Safe spaces for Youth to talk about youth politics, civic engagement, etc. Through his surveys and research into youth, he has initiated a social space, Urban Desi house( a youth cafe) in 2015 and have consulted with various co-working brands to offer them placemaking services such as Cowrks, India. He has personally led highly acclaimed social experiments such as young weirdos meetup- a congregation of creative people from local community and personally involved in more than 250 collaborative cum creative jams, meetup, across the city. He has supported many start-ups across the city by providing them spaces to them jam, co-work and hangout.

Since 2017, he has been aggressively working for UN SDGs specifically for SDG 11, SDG4, and SDG17. He is a registered volunteer at UN and has recently been awarded Youth Volunteer- Vaward by United Nations Volunteers, Ministry of youth affairs and sports, UNDP India for working tirelessly to address social and development issues. He has also worked for many online campaigns like #Youth440, a Youth POC led campaign to bring out unseen youth issues like housing, #NotTooYoungToRun and #ThisisZeroHour. His start-up, Yowan food, and beverages private limited got government recognition as a Start-up in 2017 and ranked as top 3000 start-ups in India by GOI, Department of Science and technology and IIM KOLKATA.

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