The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in India, Youth Ki Awaaz (YKA) and Action/2015 are convinced that India’s young population and their spirit of volunteerism can help overcome poverty and achieve the sustainable development agenda. They are therefore constantly exploring possibilities to mobilize and engage volunteers and to give voice to the youth of the country.
As part of these efforts, they organized the first so-called YKA Debate, a new interactive format that is designed to cover themes especially relevant to Indian youth and that simultaneously reaches out to young people from all around the world by live-streaming the debate online. The first such debate, which saw the participation of politically conscious students from across Delhi, was held on 12 October 2015.
At Lodhi Estate’s WWF Auditorium, six competitively selected university students from Delhi engaged in what is called a 3×3 parliamentary debate. This means two teams of three students, representing a hypothetical government and opposition, are to debate over a topic that is given to them only shortly before the discussion takes place.
With World Leaders, including India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, having just signed up for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the agenda that will play a crucial role in each country’s path towards inclusive development, it was hardly surprising that the topic of the day touched upon several SDGs:
“This House believes that a cut in India’s social spending is essential to provide for India’s manufacturing prowess, paving a way for wide scale employment and a higher GDP.”
In what quickly became a fast-paced and lively debate, the government (“Increasing GDP isn’t the same as increasing economic inequality”) as well as the opposition (“We have to understand that manufacturing isn’t the new solution. Welfare hasn’t failed”) made strong statements towards their cause and it was only small details that saw the opposition emerge as victorious in the end.
The first YKA debate turned out to be a great venue for Indian youth to express possible obstacles towards inclusive development in India, while also providing them with an opportunity to present ideas on how to support the government in achieving the SDGs.
A video of the debate can be found here: