Welcome everyone to India Today’s first ever Youth Summit, being held as the first decade of the 21st century ends. It’s 35 years since the first India Today was published. The world and India have changed enormously since. Two-thirds of India is under 35 like most of you sitting in this hall. The numbers are huge. 459 million Indians are between 13 and 35. Of these, 333 million are literate. All of you will, through how you study, work and play, decide the shape of the new India.It’s a world very different from when I was a young man, or I would like to think just younger. Thirty five years ago, when I started India Today, it was a world of shortages and queues. It was a world of one TV channel and two cars. Of ration cards, not credit cards. Of fixed landline phones and immoveable expectations. Of foreign exchange restrictions abroad and red tape at home. Of big government and small corporates. Of Cold War and heated rhetoric. Of no opportunities and even less hope.It was a time when we depended on the US PL 480 for food. Now we produce so much food we don’t know where to store it. It was a time when we relied on America for financial aid. Now they come to our doorstep to sell us armaments and nuclear reactors.Things have been transformed beyond recognition.There is, ofcourse, the Internet and the mobile phone, Infosys and the Indian Idol, Tata Nano and the Tata owned Jaguar-Land Rover, Vijay Mallya and Abhinav Bindra and countless other symbols of changing India. As the government has retreated, private enterprise has grown. As the markets have expanded, the mindsets have changed.advertisementWhat tomorrow will be is what you, the youth, make of it. By 2020, just a decade from now, the average Indian will be 29, compared to 37 in China and the US, 45 in western Europe and 48 in Japan. Or looked at another way.By 2050, the percentage of people above the age of 65 will be 39 per cent in the U.S, 53 per cent in Germany and 67 per cent in Japan. India, by contrast will have only 19 per cent above age 60. Thankfully, people like me would be a minority.This is not just an enormous market, but it also means many new citizens with emerging civic responsibilities, many new voters with changing political sensibilities, many new professionals with ideas they want to implement, and many many new parents with youngsters of their own.But as much as the numbers are a windfall, they are also a challenge in terms of employment, employability and education. The crucial three Es. What sort of education will the emerging youngsters get? What sort of jobs will the educated youngster get, or indeed will they get jobs at all? Just think of this–100 million Indians, the combined labour forces of Britain, France, Italy, and Spain- are projected to be added to our workforce by 2020, which is an incredible 25 per cent of the global workforce.Economists have pointed to a decrease in the rate of employment generation across both rural and urban areas which suggests that the advantages offered by a young labour force are not being fully exploited. Will India’s youth overcome this by learning to experiment with entrepreneurship or by developing skills in emerging industries?We are already the second largest reservoir of skilled labour in the world. We produce two million English-speaking graduates, 15,000 law graduates, 9,000 PhDs, and the existing pool of over two million engineering graduates increases by nearly 300,000 a year. These are terrific numbers but quality is yet to triumph over quantity.Most importantly, what sort of society will you, the youth, want to build? The general election last year highlighted the potential of the 200 million strong youngsters between 18 and 35, with many voting for the first time since 1989 when legislation lowered the voting age to 18.What sort of nation will you ensure? Will you retain its hard-won pluralist character? Will our politics go beyond issues like Ayodhya? Will you be able to dream with imagination and do with innovation? Will you be able to lead and not follow blindly?That is the biggest battle of all. Not so much of jobs and education. But the battle of minds. What sort of minds will lead us into the future? What sort of worldview will you have? Will it be a worldview that can encompass the aspirations of the youngsters of Jammu and Kashmir and the hopes of the tribals of Chhatisgarh? Will it reconcile the ambitions of a globalised youth in the have-it-all metropolises and the have-nothing villages?advertisementThis generation has the ability to, as our inaugural speaker Nandan Nilekani has said, embrace risk in a fearful world. But will it?So much has altered. With the collapse of the old order, old business families have vanished, dynamic new entrepreneurs emerged, professionals have become millionaires, managerial salaries are very respectable and every day new industries and services are cropping up. India today is a land of great opportunity. And the world is your oyster.You can be whatever you want to be. From an aeronautical engineer to someone working for an NGO, from a professional video gamer to a politician, from a coffee taster to a glass blower.There is no one formula for success. It’s evident in our speakers today who will tell us about their Mantras of Success. Our inaugural speaker, Nandan Nilekani, is an accidental entrepreneur who is now a technocrat grappling with the question of India’s identity, another, Sourav Ganguly, is a cricketer who crafted a world beating team out of a band of unheralded, small town youngsters; one, Katrina Kaif, is an actor who came from abroad with little Hindi but lots of determination to make it to the top of the game in Bollywood, and yet another, Viswanathan Anand, who is a World Champion in one of the world’s most competitive games.We are all privileged that we will be listening to them today.As for my mantra for success, I believe, there is no substitute for hardwork and hardwork never killed anybody. Plus be passionate about what you do and believe in yourself. And pray that you are in the right place at the right time and, most important, you know it.As someone once said, we cannot always build a future for the youth but we can build the Youth for the Future. For us, the first ever youth summit will be a learning experience, just as our soon-to-be-10-year-old India Today Conclave has been and the two-year-old India Today Woman Summit have been.This is our attempt to train our ears to listen to your voices. Just as we hope you will listen to the array of stars we have gathered here for you today, the best in politics, in business, in sports and in entertainment. They are our leaders today. We hope you will be theirs, and ours, tomorrow.