Mentors…the Trendsetters!

Written by Pragya Soni

Guru… the “Teacher”, “Guide” or “Master”. In the Indian culture the “Guru” is considered as a respectful figure serving as a “counselor”, who helps, mold values, share experiential knowledge as much as literal knowledge, an exemplar in life and an inspirational source.

PragyaSoniIn the 20th century a paradigm shift has taken from a “Guru” to a “Mentor”. A “Mentor” can be said as a Good student of a Guru who is a well educated person and who has ample time also to devote for volunteering with full dedication till the time an unprivileged child will not get empowered by counseling, emotion and academic support.

The difference between the “Guru” and “Mentor” can be explained as strategic work and technical work. The Mentor guides what to do…whereas the Guru teaches how to do the work.

But the important question is “Why today’s Youth need mentors”: The youth of the present generation are becoming less tolerant. It is extremely important to understand their social, psychological and physical demands to deals with these problems. Few issues of today’s youth are Peer Pressure, Substance abuse, Sexuality, Child abuse & family violence, School safety, violence and Depression and suicide.

India is a second highest largest populated country but in terms of poor it is the home of world’s largest poor population. The World Bank, in 2011 based on 2005’s PPPs International Comparison Program, estimated 23.6% of Indian population, or about 276 million people, and lived below $1.25 per day on purchasing power parity.

Individuals with lower levels of education, low household income, and lack of access to basic amenities are facing many challenges which results into conditions linked to development of:

  • Abnormal personality characteristics
  • motivational depositions
  • skill deficits
  • weak social bonding
  • anti–social and felonious peers
  • low IQ and anti-social attitudes and beliefs
  • gang membership
  • engagement in other forms of delinquency

Such characteristics make the young in the community vulnerable to manifold problems of achievement and mental health also. People living in slums are more prone to such type of characteristics.

Pune is considered to be one of the largest cities in Western Maharashtra.

According to the National Census, 2001, the population of the Pune Urban Agglomeration is 3.5 million and as per the census 40% population in Pune lives in slums. Pune’s slum population is scattered across the whole city and most of the disadvantaged community lives in these slums. Rest 60% population are those people who are living above the poverty line and able to live a comfortable life with maximum facilities available.

Government has implemented many programs to support the slum communities like National Slum Development Program (NSDP), Integrated Housing and Slum Development Program, etc. Also Non-Profit organizations are also supporting and running many slum development programs. It is not only the responsibility of Government and NGOs but also the responsibility of each and every citizen of India to contribute for the disadvantaged community to bring the equality and harmony in the country. Hence need of the hour is to promote a culture where a common man can contribute for the development of such underprivileged people.

Children who grow in adverse circumstances generally found to lag behind from the peer group of more advantaged homes. They experience a unique set of psychological barriers which prevent their growth. The poor do not seem to be equipped with qualities, dispositions, skills, motivations and values linked to upward mobility when compared with the more privileged. Such behavior pattern of adult shows attitudes of apathy, indifference and withdrawal. Children are as a result inescapably sucked into a ‘culture of poverty’ and the vicious cycle continues.

The Government and Non-Profit organizations should take initiative and run such programs to offer an opportunity and training for the volunteers who want to take more active role in mentoring a child /youth from disadvantaged community and thus contribute for the National development.

The five point strategy which may help the children to the continuous exposure to deprivation and disadvantage:

  • Availability – helping young people to trust
  • Sensitivity – helping young people to manage feelings and behaviors
  • Acceptance – building the self-esteem of the young person;
  • Co-operation – helping young people to feel effective; and
  • Family membership – helping young people belong.

Mentors can play the vital role of developing and implementing interventions that can address an entire range of cognitive, social-emotional and educational consequences of poverty.

About Author: Pragya Soni is a CSR professional based at Pune.