The brainchild of H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Youth Leadership Training Program was conceived of as a project that went hand-in-hand with another pet project of his, the 5H program, which is an umbrella social initiative that makes a huge difference in the world by uplifting Health, Hygiene, Homes, Human values, and Harmony in diversity. The aim of the program is to encourage sustainable development, while uplifting individuals and communities at the grassroots so that they become self-reliant, both socially and economically.
The YLTP has been the 5H program’s secret of success. The graduates of the YLTP program who show exceptional leadership qualities and commitment are designated as Yuvacharyas (literally: Youth Leaders). They become empowered rural entrepreneurs, and form a team of motivated and committed volunteers who are instrumental in implementing the 5H program in villages, bringing about social reform and economic independence.
As part of their education, the youth are given intensive training sessions, which include information on:
- Leadership skills: shraddha (faith), sangha (network) and saahas (courage)
- How to build a connected, cohesive team atmosphere, which nourishes a sense of belonging
- Daily physical exercise, uniquely powerful breathing techniques, daily yoga and meditation
- Practical knowledge for stress free living
- Traditional Art and Culture development
- Knowledge of Health and Hygiene; sexual health, HIV-AIDs, and female feticide
- Gender Equality
- Preserving the Environment and living in harmony with nature
- Traditional Agricultural techniques and natural / organic farming
- Creative exploration
- A drug, alcohol, and tobacco free environment (De-addiction)
- Legal literacy: Dowry Act, Juvenile Justice Act, Child Marriage, Restraint Act, and Child Labor (prohibition and regulation act)
- Ayurvedic treatment
What are the elements of YLTP that make it so successful?
As H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says: “Instead of thinking, ‘What about me?’, ‘What can I gain from this world? ‘, think ‘What can I do for the world?’! When everyone considers what they can only contribute to society, you will have a divine society”.
It is this spirit of changing the focus from the self to the society, and the world as a whole, that brings about a transformation in youth. This transformation is done through a number of unique processes and knowledge sessions, which enable the participants to find their center and become able engines of social transformation. Gone is their self-doubt and angst; their hesitation and worry is replaced by a new-found self confidence and an enthusiasm to serve society.
The Yuvacharyas are trained to create model villages – villages that are worth emulating by the rest of the world; villages that are Swaccha (clean), Sundara (beautiful), Subhadra (secure) and Sushikshit (educated). They do this by engaging in village group meetings, cleanliness drives, and awareness campaigns on various issues. They work on the grassroots level on diverse areas, and achieve remarkable results in such diverse areas as:
- Health and Hygiene in Maharashtra
- Trauma relief in suicide prone Vidharbha
- Natural Resource Management (Drought Proofing)
- Trauma relief in Naxalism affected areas of Chattisgarh
- Anti-Conversion drive in Kerala and North Eastern states
- Bridging the caste divide in Kerala
- Re-assimilation of Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh
- Tsunami relief in Tamil Nadu
- Mass campaigns against female feticides
As part of their developmental activities, Yuvacharyas conduct free five day workshops called “Nav Chetna Shivirs” (also called “Breath-Water-Sound” internationally) for the villagers. This workshop creates awareness among villagers about the 5H and other local issues, providing a unique combination of breathing and knowledge that frees the mind of stress; helping them find the center that will provide the foundation for their growth as an individual and the village as a collective.
Day after day, rural youth in India are waking up to the fact that their responsibilities lie in far more than just solving their own problems, and that it is they who will form the backbone of a new India.
The vision of H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is creating a wave of transformation in the country.Lakshminarayanan now says, “I feel a huge change. I can tackle any problem now. I am eager to begin working in villages… they are waiting for me!” A resurgent India is being built.