The United Nations General Assembly defines youth volunteerism as an activity undertaken out of free will, for the general public good, and where monetary reward is not the principal motivating factor. Volunteerism represents an important form and manifestation of youth participation across the globe. A growing body of research and studies, points to the benefits of volunteerism that accrues to the youth’s own development and to society at large.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs, Government of India (MoYAS) has been running schemes such as the National Service Scheme (NSS) and the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) under which programmes are conducted with schools, universities and youth clubs in rural and urban areas. Together, NSS and NYKS reaches out to close to 11 million young people in the country.
The National Youth Policy 2014 includes a focus on promotion of volunteerism by building on existing youth volunteering infrastructure in India, namely, NYKS and NSS. To take this forward, under a collaboration between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, the United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project, ‘Strengthening NSS and NYKS’ was started. This project has been initiated to promote innovation in volunteerism among youth in India and strengthen existing infrastructures especially that of NSS and NYKS.
The India Online Volunteering Platform is an extension of the project, ‘Strengthening NSS and NYKS’, a space which promotes and recognizes volunteerism by engaging with youth volunteers, youth networks, civil society, think tanks, governments and volunteer-involving organizations for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals as part of the Post-2030 agenda. The platform is also designed to help young people gain a strong sense of civic engagement and transform communities.