January 12 is no ordinary day. It is a day etched in the annals of history as a day when India was blessed with one of its most prolific thinkers, a guiding light and a man who took India’s message to the world. It was on this day, 150 years ago that Swami Vivekananda was born. Swami ji is no longer with us but his spirit, mission and his message live on and continue to inspire generations of people.
I am glad to share that the Government of Gujarat has left no stone unturned to share Swami Vivekananda’s message to our people through the last year. We commemorated 2012 as ‘Yuva Shakti Varsh’ and numerous initiatives and programmes were held to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. We are also continuing to commemorate 2013 as the ‘Yuva Shakti Varsh.’
Swami Vivekananda dreamt of an India that is at the pinnacle of world leadership, a Jagat Guru Bharat. To create such an India, he saw a central role for the nation’s youth. In Gujarat, we took it on our shoulders to empower the youth of Swami Vivekananda’s dreams and strengthen them with every possible skill so that they get opportunities to shine and stretch themselves beyond their imagination to innovate and contribute towards the nation.
The Gujarat Government has taken the task of furthering skill development among our youth. We dedicated 20 Swami Vivekananda Superior Technology Industrial Training Institutes to encourage research and innovation through technology among our youth. Our efforts to improve the facilities in our ITIs too continued at a remarkable pace.
But, we did not stop at furthering skill development only! We went a step ahead and focused on soft skills. Why can’t a student who has trained as a plumber or a trainer in an ITI imbibe soft skills so that his or her confidence level receives a strong boost? Why can’t he or she imbibe soft skills so that employability increases? In July this year I launched eMPOWER to impart basic IT skills for our youth. The scale at which this initiative is underway must be seen to be believed! We also provide soft skills in our various ITIs.
A record of sorts was created in April 2012 when I handed over appointment letters to more than 65,000 youngsters across the length and breadth of the state during the Swami Vivekananda Youth Employment Week! Imagine the qualitative difference that would have been brought about in the lives of these youngsters.
“You will be nearer to God by playing football than through the study of the Gita!” Swami Vivekananda would say. Sadly, due to pressures of exams and education, I have noticed that the playing fields are always empty. How can the youth of Swami Vivekananda’s dream not enjoy the beauty of sports? It is a fact that there can be no sportsmanship without sport! It is even rightly said, “Jo khele, woh khile” (the person who plays, shines).
During the course of the last year, nearly 16,000 Swami Vivekananda Mandals and Kendras were formed at the village, taluka and district levels where sports kits were distributed to youngsters. A world record was created when 4,000 women played chess under a single roof at the Swami Vivekananda Women Chess Meet in August 2012.
In order to spread Swami Vivekananda’s message to the youth and integrate them with the development journey, I embarked on the Vivekananda Yuva Vikas Yatra in September 2012 and I got a wonderful response from Gujarat’s Yuva Shakti. I firmly believe that the world’s most youthful nation cannot dream small – we not only need youth development but also youth-led development. This is what Swami Vivekananda envisioned and this is what we are seeking to do in Gujarat.
Those who are active on social media would have seen that every day, for the last 366 days I have tweeted an inspiring quote of Swami Vivekananda. Similarly, the Google+ Hangout that was held in August last year was themed around creating the youth of Swami Vivekananda’s dreams. I am happy to note that both these ideas were appreciated far and wide.
Friends, it is a matter of happiness that the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda coincides with the 6th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2013. This year’s summit has drawn delegates from over 120 nations and we are focusing on knowledge, skill development and technology. This summit seeks not only to think about the development of the present but also to safeguard and power the future of our youth!
Swami Vivekananda has been a figure of inspiration to me personally as well and that is why I consider myself truly blessed that I have been able to make my small contribution in spreading his message to the people of my state. Once again, I pay my tributes to Swami Vivekananda and share my determination to continue working towards realising Swami Vivekananda’s dreams and integrating as many youngsters as possible with the unique development journey of Gujarat.