Hindu Youth Conference inspires youth to take leadership roles

Hindu Youth New Zealand (HYNZ) and New Zealand Hindu Students Forum (NZHSF) jointly organised the 2nd New Zealand Hindu Youth Conference with the theme “Dynamic spirit of youth” on 7th and 8th May at The University of Auckland Business School.

Youth are full of irresistible enthusiasm, enormous energy, boundless hope and dedication. Youth is the life force of a nation, or society. Hindu Youth conferences are organised to unleash the potential of the youth. The 2nd New Zealand Hindu Youth Conference was successful in this endeavour.

The conference was inaugurated by Hon Phil Goff, the leader of opposition in NZ Parliament. He said “Our young people are our future. We need to inspire them, give them hope and the confidence to know they can achieve whatever they set out to do. This forum gives young people an opportunity to make a positive difference in terms of their own lives and the lives of others in New Zealand”.

Members of parliament, Dr Rajen Prasad and Mr. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi also attended the ceremony. Ms Nitika Sharma, the conference coordinator, and Mr Som Sharma, President of New Zealand Hindu Students Forum welcomed the guests. Ms Sharma said that HYNZ and NZHSF are networks of young professionals and tertiary students, respectively. Young Hindu New Zealanders were proud of their Hindu as well as New Zealand identities.

In her keynote address, Ms Kumuthini Selvaraj, coordinator of HYNZ Wellington team, presented the significant contribution of Hindu Youth to New Zealand based on 2006 Statistics New Zealand data. She compared the age, education and employment status of Hindu community to the rest of New Zealand.

Young achievers of New Zealand shared their success stories at the conference. Speakers included Ms Claire Szabo, the Chief Executive of English Language Partners New Zealand, who was recently recognised as the Young Executive of the Year 2010; Dr Divya Dhar, CEO of P3 Foundation, who was awarded inaugural 2010 Young New Zealander of the Year; Mr J’aime Laurenson, the recipient of the inaugural 2010 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards; and Mr Vinny Jeet, CEO of OneBeep and OneBuzz, winners of the Microsoft Imagine Cup Challenge New Zealand, 2010 and 2011. They inspired the audience by exemplifying how hard work, perseverance and dedication result in impressive achievements.

Mr Nachiket Joshi, a young pharmacist from Hamilton, presented the work that he has been doing to spread education to underprivileged children in India and Nepal through the Ekal Vidyalaya (one teacher school) movement. Ekal Vidyalaya is now one of the world’s fastest growing educational movement, and more information, including the contacts for the New Zealand chapter, are available through www.ekal.org.

A session on “Engaging youth on serving the community” was chaired Ms Komal Shah. Youth from Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh; International Society for Krishna Consciousness and Yogi Divine Society shared their contributions to the community welfare.

Mr Dijesh Patel of National Hindu Students Forum, United Kingdom, informed the audience on a model of community development where seva (service) activities from various Hindu community organisations in UK were coordinated.

A number of New Zealand government agencies and institutes including Ministry of Youth Development, New Zealand Police, Auckland Youth Advisory Panel and Auckland Ethnic Advisory Panel shared their vision for youth regionally and nationally. Prof Shanthi Amratunga of the Auckland University shared information from the second National Health and Wellbeing Survey of secondary school New Zealanders. The Ministry of Youth Development conducted a workshop on “Developing leadership skills”. P3 Foundation a workshop on “How to deliver an elevated pitch”.

Ms Komal Deo discussed “Role of women within society – a leadership perspective”, while Ms Usha Tipparaju conducted a workshop on “How to improve IQ, concentration and energy levels”. Ms Bhavisha Daya, secretary of New Zealand Hindu Students Forum, spoke on “The value system of Hindu Dharma”, and shared how it has strengthened her personality. The value system of Hindu Dharma stresses on the concept of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam (the world is one family). The differentiators of the inclusive concept of Dharma, often wrongly translated into the Western category of religion based on exclusivity of the faithful, were brought into focus.

Popular quiz night with the theme “Hindu Genius” was run by Mr Anantha Narayanan, a medical student from Otago University. The quiz consisted of sessions on general knowledge, science and technology, Hindu Dharma, current affairs, sports and entertainment, and New Zealand culture and heritage.

Ms Pritika Sharma, joint general secretary of Hindu Council of New Zealand delivered the closing remarks at the conference commending the efforts of young students and professionals. She added “the team had shown that youth from Hindu community have the capacity and capability to be leaders in the New Zealand Society”.

Pratik Bhatt thanked the conference sponsors and supporters. The gold sponsors include COGS and Hindu Niwas.

For more information about Hindu Youth New Zealand and New Zealand Hindu Students Forum, please contact Pritika Sharma (021 0724051) or email – hinduyouth.nz@gmail.com , hindustudents.nz@gmail.com