February 27, 2024

Ten Years of the Young Thinkers Meet (YTM)

Reflections on the many lessons from a decade of YTM, a nationalistic and youth-oriented platform.
Keywords: Confluence | National Interest | Mentorship | Candid Discussions | Vision | Network | Synergy
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A decade long journey for an institution or an event marks an important milestone to look back and reflect on the path it has trudged. Young Thinkers Meet (YTM) is one such initiative of the India Foundation that began its journey in 2012 at Coorg, Karnataka and recently concluded its tenth edition in Pahalgam, Jammu & Kashmir. The annually held event has come to act as a confluence of young nationalistic minds hailing from varied walks of life across India.

To give some context, YTM is an annual get-together organized by the New Delhi based think tank, India Foundation, for individuals (mostly under 35 years) who are driven by the idea of a New India. YTM today has an alumni base of over three hundred individuals who belong to different parts of India and come with unique life experiences and skillsets. There are social activists, political activists, NGO workers, academics, journalists, scientists, corporate professionals and students from reputed international universities. Participants in the YTM come from all parts of the country and indulge themselves in deliberations and debates on issues of contemporary national importance. The format of the meet is immersive and experiential rather than a lecture-based classroom format. The number of delegates at any YTM has varied from seventy-five to eighty-five and involves freewheeling discussion over two to three days. Each year YTM moves to a new location and helps the young delegates explore the incredible diversity of the country. The meet has previously happened in Coorg, Karnataka, Manesar, Haryana, Pune, Maharashtra, Panchmarhi, Madhya Pradesh, Patnitop, J&K, Vadodara, Gujarat, Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, Chilika, Odisha and this year it happened in Pahalgam and Srinagar, J&K. Due to the national lockdown, YTM happened virtually in 2020.

Previous locations of the ten annual meetings of YTM

Inspired by the idea of the thinkers meet, many individuals have started regional chapters of the YTM, following the format of the national event. As of today, there are active chapters in the states of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Karnataka, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, led by enterprising and visionary young minds.

I have been a delegate and part of the organizing committee of the YTM since 2013 and have been a witness to the strength of this community which has evolved much like a family. There are three primary learnings that I feel must be shared for similar initiatives that wish to work for the country and would benefit from our extensive experience:

In my informal conversations with the delegates and alumni of the YTM, I have realized a common strain and that is the power of mentorship. Participants across the years have shared how Shri Ram Madhav, the visionary and driving force of this idea, has been a constant guide and mentor to them through the years. Always approachable and generous with his insights, he has guided many to think deeply about their work and scale it in terms of vision and execution. For youngsters to be able to find someone who can show them a broad long term view vis-a-vis immediate short term gains is a great treasure and every participant at the YTM has benefitted from this. 

YTM has allowed delegates to express their views and share their ideas freely. There are no restrictions to what one says till it is said respectfully and without hurting sentiments. This has expanded the vision of the participants and helped them view issues beyond binaries. The delegates come from all corners of the country and have their own understanding of various issues. To be able to listen, process and realize such a perspective is a unique opportunity for young minds.

National interest is foremost and young minds should involve themselves in working towards the growth and progress of India. This is the message all delegates leave YTM with. There may be heated discussions or disagreements on particular issues but the strength of YTM is to bring together youngsters who believe in India and are ready to sacrifice their selfish interests for the sake of the nation. To find so many youngsters working in their own silos on one platform and bind them in a network is rare and inspirational.

YTM has evolved as a platform for collaboration and the exchange of ideas. Many alumni of the YTM are today Members of Parliament, individuals holding senior positions in national political parties, leading entrepreneurs, senior public policy professionals, corporate leaders, columnists in leading newspapers, media panellists and have authored several books. YTM has exposed its alumni to leading public intellectuals at a nascent career stage and has helped them chart their paths. Many alumni worked together during the Covid19 crisis to help the under-served and could do this only because of their friendship and network with like-minded individuals from across the country. The YTM network has become an inextricable part of the lives of those who have participated in it as many continue to cherish lifelong memories and friendships forged in the days of the meet. The past decade has been a wonderful journey, the next would surely be an exciting and promising one.

3 comments

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  • Aaditya Ji, Excellent piece on great initiative of India Foundation namely “Young Thinkers Meet” which was started a decade back under the guidance and blessings of Shri Ram Madhav ji. Today, the Youth of the Meet had taken the Tomorrow’s Leadership Responsibility. By this piece, most of the participants who joined this meet had already shoulder the responsibility of national interest and working hard towards the progressive Bharat. I am honored to be part of the 7th Young Thinkers Meet held in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to join the next edition of YTM..

  • The succinct article has summed the memories and achievements of the ever enticing even of India foundation, The Young Thinkers Meet so well!
    Having said that, could you please shed some light on how to be a part of this pulchritudinous opportunity?

Aaditya Tiwari

Aaditya Tiwari is currently working as Officer on Special Duty to Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh. He has previously worked as a Fellow with Teach For India and India Foundation.

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