Award in India signals new focus as election targets country's youth

6 May 2009
As young people in the world’s largest democracy cast their vote and played their part in shaping their country’s future, the Award in India appointed a new national director and set in place a nine-point strategic plan which will set its course for the next year and beyond.
Launched against the backdrop of an Indian election campaign which focused heavily on the youth vote, using slogans such as “When I change, India changes” and “Our youth: India’s strength, India’s future”, the timing of the Indian Award’s shift in strategic focus could not have been more appropriate. It is also particularly fitting that the newly appointed national director, Sandeep Dutt, himself a Gold Award holder, is the youngest appointee since the Programme’s inception in India in 1962.
Mr Dutt, founder of the Book Café chain in India, used a governing council meeting in New Delhi to set out his key objectives for the year ahead, which included a focus on involving more 18-25 year olds in the Programme, and targeting young people outside the major cities and in rural areas. Mr Dutt spoke with passion of “winning hearts” and ensuring “that the quality of the Programme is never diluted when we reach out to the millions of youth in India.”
With a vast population of one billion, and an incredible diversity - reflected in its 22 official languages - India plays an increasingly significant role in the global community. Moreover, by 2020, young people (under 25s) will make up 55% of the population of India, and 5% of the global youth population will be from the country, making India a priority for the International Award Association.
This strategic significance is underlined by the fact that a three-person team from the Association has just returned from India, following high level meetings with the National Award Authority, youth and development agencies, government officials and key figures from the education sector. Sue Walker, Asia Pacific regional director, Cristal de Saldanha Stainbank, head of Programme, and Becky Hirt, head of communications, met with key personnel including national chairman, Vice Admiral Suren Govil, and chair of trustees, Ms Naina Lal Kidwai, to explore opportunities for maximising the Award’s impact in India. A key pillar of the Award’s growth strategy will be the identification and training of new Award leaders who play a vital role in mentoring participants. Vice Admiral Govil describes volunteers as “absolutely critical to the success of the whole Programme”.
Ms Kidwai, recently appointed group general manager and country head for HSBC India, comments: "As a self-development programme, the Award has a vital role to play in India, providing a framework within which young people can understand their unique talents and what personal contribution they can make to their community and thereby their nation. We are delighted that Sandeep's long involvement with the Award is continuing as he takes on the role of national director, building on the successes of his predecessor, Maroof Raza. We will be working together to ensure that more young people across India can access the Award Programme."
Pictured above: students at the Modern School, New Delhi, perform traditional Indian dance, a popular choice for the Physical Recreation Section of the Programme
Pictured above right: Award holders at the Salaam Baalak Trust, a New Delhi-based charity which supoprts street and working children


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