• contact.nirman@gmail.com

Developmental Perspective

Background

NIRMAN aims to create a large group of young professionals having the desire and the capability to understand and solve the burning social problems. With the emergence of a large middle class in India, there are many youth who are in search of a purpose to their lives beyond just earning money. With the economic pressures of sustenance having reduced compared to the earlier generation, many young people feel like contributing towards the society but lack clarity regarding what exactly to do. They need an opportunity to explore, develop and realize their values, role models and social mission. NIRMAN has strategically focused its attention on such youth, in the age group of 18 – 28 years. The goal of the NIRMAN program is to promote possibilities for young people to work on social challenges and seek a purposeful life through this pursuit.

Emerging Adulthood

The participants in NIRMAN belong to the age group of 18 to 28, the ‘emerging adulthood’ phase (phrase coined by American Psychologist Jeffery Jensen Arnett). It is the age of identity exploration and the age of possibilities when little about the future has been decided for certain. Having not yet entered the enduring responsibilities, they explore variety of life directions in love, work and world views.

For the youth interested in social issues, the key developmental questions that we have observed include the ones related to their self-identity, sense of purpose and meaning, relationship with family and partner, need for a likeminded group of friends, supportive mentoring, deeper understanding of social problems and approaches of solving them, clarity of values and conviction of decision-making, personal effectiveness and career.

Developmental Perspective

NIRMAN believes that the identification, exploration and actualization of one’s self cannot take place in the narrow confinements of a secured lifestyle. It therefore attempts to bring the youth face to face with the reality of life, nurturing them to work on social challenges while responding to their quest for leading a purposeful life.

During their exploration of self and pursuit of purpose, participants form their views about life, values, beliefs, relationships, career, their role in the society, responsibilities and money. NIRMAN, hence, facilitates the construction of a worldview that helps youth to lead a purposeful life by getting engaged in social problem solving, which would eventually be a source of meaningfulness for them.

Quantitative Feedback:

Analysis of feedback scores of 157 participants from a recent batch of NIRMAN, about the growth in them regarding identity, purpose, value system, relations, decision making, and understanding of social problems has been given below.

Average Score 10 out of 10 8-10 out of 10
Gain useful insight about myself and my identity 8.39 45 121
Increased my conviction to contribute to social problem solving 8.48 48 129
Got likeminded friends with whom i emotianally connect 8.48 48 129
The camp process has helped me aspire for higher goals and purpose in my life 8.83 71 132
Nirman camp was intellectually stimulating 8.82 65 135
Got to know some useful frameworks and tools for decision making 8.51 50 130

Qualitative Feedback:

NIRMAN is facilitating the youth’s search for purpose by social problem based experiential learning and identification of self through it. A few sample reflections from the participants echo this fact and the growth they experience:

  • “NIRMAN is helping me shape my identity as a Budding Social Change Maker!”
  • “I have experienced a paradigm shift in me, from a problem-centric to a solution-centric person. I learned the multidimensional attitude to see a problem.”
  • “NIRMAN gave me confidence and vigor, nurtured my social sensitivity without forcing anything. It gave me the opportunity to serve.”
  • “I have made progress from the vague idea of ‘I want to do something’ to ‘concrete action’ through experimentation and exploration with life.”
  • “I got a value system, lots of guides and friends that removed my feeling of loneliness.”
  • “Career is not about material achievements, it’s about touching more number of people.”
  • “There are two necessities of life – Love and Purpose. I am able see them now.”
  • “NIRMAN helped me to face the uncertainties and insecurities in my life. I see myself more responsible and empowered. This has resulted into freedom from my unrealistic fears and insecurities of life.”
  • “NIRMAN taught me the need to measure, understand and optimize my output. I also realized the importance of means over output/ impact.”
  • “NIRMAN taught me to critically analyze various social problems and gave me the courage to pursue my life in a meaningful way towards my society.”
  • “NIRMAN has certainly changed my outlook towards social actions. It has developed scientific problem solving approach in me. I have realized the need of ‘social problem solving’ over ‘random acts of kindness’.”
  • “I understood the difference between my needs and wants and got the conviction to reduce my carbon footprint. NIRMAN taught me that what I ‘need’ to do is more important than what I ‘like’. It helped me become empathetic towards people.”
  • “माझ्यातील स्वार्थीपणा कमी झाला आणि शेअरिंग मधील आनंद वाढला”.
  • “माझ्या भावना व्यक्त करायला शिकले. समविचारी मित्र’मैत्रिणींसोबत त्या शेअर केल्याने मला वीक न वाटता स्ट्राँग वाटायला लागलं.”
  • “आयुष्यात मूल्यांचे महत्त्व समजले. मला सामाजिक काम का करायचे आहे याचे उत्तर मिळाले – कारण तो माझा स्वधर्म आहे.”
  • “सामाजिक काम म्हणजे फक्त समाजसेवा नाही हे समजले. त्यासाठीचा परिणामकारक action plan कसा बनवायचा हे शिकले.”
  • “मी माझे आर्थिक व्यवहार आणि बचत कशी करावी याची इतकी काळजी माझ्या घरच्यांनी पण घेतली नव्हती.”

These narratives reflect the possibility of “search for purpose through pursuit of social problem solving” that is driving the participants in NIRMAN. In a before-after questionnaire survey administered to 73 participants from the recent batch of NIRMAN, 65 people said that the cause for which to work will be the most important criteria for their career decisions, 50 people wanted to work with nonprofits as a priority and the entire group on average was ready to take a pay cut of INR 32,549 from their expected salary at the age of 30.

In a situation where young people in India are continuously bombarded with consumerism, pressure of competition, and consider monetary achievements as success, NIRMAN is offering a conducive environment and systematic possibilities for the youth participants to engage in actions of social change and find a deeper meaning to their lives.

A Case Story

As a young student entering the final year of engineering college, I was having mixed feelings. On one side I was excited learning the technical stuff of computer science and enjoying the college life with friends. However on the other side, I was clueless regarding the way forward. Within next one year the college would end and I would be out of the comfort zone into the real life. There was no guidance regarding this transition. There was nobody to facilitate how to choose the next path that would be personally fulfilling, apart from the software companies who would come and give us placement offers of high packages, asking us not to think but just join them as a way of ensuring ‘cool’ life. Students were not proactively thinking about what all they can do. Most were rather blindly accepting the general normative options of either taking a placement or applying for masters in engineering or management without a particular thought process towards any one of the two. I did not want to do either because I was unable to find a connection between what I was learning in college and what was going on in the society around me, outside the college. This disconnect between the artificial comfort on the campus and the harsh reality outside was very discomforting. I used to think that I must do something for the people around me, I can’t just ignore this when so many are in poverty; but then I would feel as if am I the only one who thinks like this. There was no role model in the college to look up to. Who am I? Whose am I? What’s the most purposeful thing to do? These were the unanswered questions….

– A Participant

This is not the experience of just one person, rather there are many youth who face this dilemma, of wanting to do “something” for the society but not knowing how exactly to do it. The social pressures make it hard to think of doing things different from the accepted norms. There are no special moratorium opportunities that help them explore options to make a decision regarding how best they can contribute to society and at the same time find work opportunities that will be meaningful. Hence for many youth the desire does not translate in to action. How do we cultivate this yearning of social contribution, amalgamating it with the youth’ search for purpose in order to nurture potential changemakers? This is the question we explore in NIRMAN.