With the largest youth population in the world, the future of India is very dependent on its youth. National Youth Day recognises and celebrates this invaluable asset, while also reinforcing the need to empower the country's young people by providing them with the necessary education and resources to make a difference.
National Youth Day is celebrated on the birthday of the social reformer and philosopher Swami Vivkenanda. His teachings were very universal in nature (allowing them to be adapted to different scenarios), and focused on several aspects that are current global challenges, such as education, the empowerment of women and poverty. His advice on these issues was very practical and concrete, thereby holding importance and relevance even today.
As I was growing up I faced a number of challenges. Being born blind meant that gaining an education, particularly in the field of science and technology, was not always easy. However I was determined to pursue the subjects I was passionate about, and my perseverance paid off in 2013 when I was offered a scholarship at Stanford University in the USA.
I am now keen to offer other young people in India the opportunity to learn more about science and technology. I am the founder of Project STEMAccess, which offers hands-on science workshops in India, as well as virtual training sessions. I am also working on creating a portal that will allow students to convert textbooks into their desired accessible format.
It was as a result of my work on these projects that I was selected to be one of the Queen's Young Leader Award winners of 2016. The Award, which will be presented to us by Her Majesty The Queen at a ceremony in the UK, recognises young people from across the Commonwealth who are carrying out life-changing work in their communities.
I believe that young people are optimistic and full of energy, and look at everything with a fresh perspective. This allows us to pursue initiatives that might otherwise be thought of as daunting or impossible. Not only do we have the best understanding of the problems that we face, but we are also in the best position to work out solutions using our creativity and drive.
I am very hopeful about the future of India, and envision it to be a perfect amalgamation of technological innovation and our traditional values, such as compassion, generosity, respect and pride in our heritage.
Kartik Sawhney is a winner of the Queen's Young Leader Award. More information about the 60 Queen's Young Leader Award Winners and the programme can be found here.