Youth Workshops 2014

‘Be the Change’ Youth Workshops 2014

10am – 4:30pm, Saturday 26th July 2014

Monash University, Clayton

On Saturday 26th of July, Vishva Hindu Parishad of Victoria (VHP VIC) and Hindu Youth Australia (HYA) conducted Career and Course Guidance and Youth Leadership workshops under the title “Be the Change” at Monash University.


Having successfully run for the past few years, these workshops were conducted in Melbourne and Brisbane in 2014. “The focus of these sessions was to impart leadership concepts and give advice on career choices”, explained Ms Priya Patel who anchored the program. Several young members of VHPVIC and HYA conducted these sessions, which aided the casual atmosphere and fun nature of the day. The workshops were very informative and conducted in an extremely professional manner allowing the participants to understand what they would face in the coming years.


Dr. Ajay Kapoor, Pro Vice Chancellor Swinburne University, opened the morning session. His speech covered key tenants of positive thinking such as removing the “ego” from decisions, positive energy techniques and concentration and focus. The key concept was that an idea can generate money and therefore one should never stop producing ideas.


The next talk by Dr. Gita Pendharkar of Monash University was in line with VHP’s policy of wedding the two entities – cultural and conventional education. Cross- cultural pressures faced by today’s generation were talked about as well as the potential results of these pressures that all adolescents face. Learning from mistakes and making decisions with no regrets in the long term were stressed. This was an excellent topic for an age group not usually associated with exemplary decision- making.


Dr. Gita’s excellent presentation was followed by Monash University’s Professor Raman Singh’s talk about what lay ahead in the “future”. How to go about making the right choice? Again this was a well thought out topic, which was perfect for the age group addressed. Realistic decisions, passionate choices, confidence in person and persistence in effort were the concepts proposed by Prof. Singh.


The next two presentations by Professor Prem Chhetri and Professor Arun Kumar of RMIT can almost be grouped together as one. Prof. Chhetri covered the career pathways available in Australia while Prof. Kumar mentioned the networking possibilities and opportunities that would be available to the participants in the coming years and how they could avail them. It gave the 14 to 18 year olds concrete advice they could act on in the coming years as opposed to the more interpretive motivational speeches given earlier; in tandem both outcomes work to give the participants the complete picture of what is to come in future.


Professor Jerry Tien from Monash University gave the penultimate speech; a robust presentation with a focus on being passionate about the career you choose. A theme of the day was decision-making and again this speech emphasized the tough skill of making the right decisions when it came to job selection, course selection and general direction one takes in life. He credits his ability to try new things, march against the crowd when required and finding his passion as the reasons for his success and a good template to success.


Dr. Harpreet Singh of Federal University delivered the closing summing up. He went through the themes of having a purpose or mission in life, being answerable to one’s own decisions and achieving what may feel impossible through hard work.


Post lunch, the Youth Leadership workshop started with team building activities to acclimatize participants with each other. This worked very well since it did away with the usual tedious introduction that plague seminars and also gave participants a chance to immediately meet people and get accustomed to the nature of this session. Emphasizing communication from top down and feedback from the bottom up the task was an interesting and relevant leadership parable that was succinct enough.


A prominent Hindu youth leader Krishna Ramarathinam, in his opening talk explained a leadership formula that led him to success in the workplace also. The process of “Education, Identity, Leadership, Inspiration and Institution” was very relevant to the young audiences. This is especially important as most leadership manuals and methods focus on the business environment and the process needed to shine in the corporate environment. To have a leadership workshop aimed at those studying and notions such as social responsibility and competent decision-making are not usually aimed at students.


Following this was a presentation by Jigar Adhyaru, a passionate youth who researched the Artha Sashtra. It was relating to the ancient wisdom of Kautilya and how it was applicable to modern times. His 6-fold policy included 1)-Peace, 2)- War, 3)- Neutrality, 4)- Marching, 5)- Alliance and 6)- Double Policy (roughly translated into English). This was interesting as it showed the audience that these leadership concepts had pre-dated modern civilization and were just as relevant now as they were centuries ago. The basic concept stays the same.


A change in pace saw a statistical delivery by Sushyant Subramaniam on the growth of Hindu’s in Australia. The talk encompassed the role that first generations Hindus in Australia as well as the need to grow as a culture and take up more prominent roles in Australian society by the next generation. After the casual nature and pace of the preceding talks, Mrs. Kanchana Rao led a Hatha Yoga session. This session was the perfect break from the seminar and was a mixture of yoga and relaxation techniques.


Finally to finish the day two young community leaders Mr. Rajiv Baheti and Mr. Ganesh Jaygan shared their experiences. They talked about the role of language and culture within our expatriate community and the need to preserve these two things for our future generations and for ourselves even though we have moved to foreign lands to make a new life. Leadership was brought into this by asking participants to take the initiative and move forward in life.

The Career and Course guidance workshop provided a valuable experience to students entering the final stages of their schooling. Well run, well organized and most of all well intentioned. The Youth Leadership workshop was an extremely enjoyable experience bringing together the business-minded nature of leadership and mixing it with the cultural aspect of Hindu Dharma. The VHPAU should be commended on their work in taking these workshops all over the country. Hindu community should be proud of their efforts to educate the community and specifically to pass on their cumulative knowledge to the next generation.


By Sameer, Mahesh Betanabhatla and Sanjana Rupanagudi


For more information on VHP Victoria’s workshops, please contact