Young today, leaders tomorrow
Young today, leaders tomorrow
-By Aroosa Masroor
KATHMANDU, Nepal: “The future of Nepal lies with the youth,” is Santosh Shah’s response each time he is asked about his involvement in youth affairs. It is the purpose that drives him, says Shah, who is currently the youngest CEO in Nepal.
The 29-year-old is the publisher and editor of a bi-monthly English magazine ‘Today’s YouthAsia’ and an anchor and director of a television talk show ‘Power Talks’ – both of which cover a wide range of issues that concern and affect the youth of Asia.
But success did not come easy to Shah. In fact, he was one of the many students who decided to return to his home country from the US after 9/11. “I was an undergraduate student of Film Studies in New York City when the twin towers were attacked in 2001. Soon after, several students began facing discrimination and one of my teachers advised that I return home,” he explains in an interview with Dawn.com.
Here, in Nepal, the situation was no less chaotic. After the Royal Massacre in June 2001, the country was gripped by political crisis. That is when Shah felt he needed to channel the energy among the youth – who would emerge as future leaders – more positively, he believed.
“It started from a small meeting at a coffee shop with four of my friends,” recalls Shah, who was only 22 when he came back to Kathmandu.
“After years of conflict and an uncertain political situation in Nepal, we felt there was a deficit of leadership here and the youth needed a voice. There was also the need to look at political issues with a fresh eye. That is when we decided to launch a magazine by working with students and equipping them with the right skills and confidence.”
Initially, they formed a group of 16 people that later expanded to 50 in a span of few weeks. Together, they launched the magazine ‘Today’s Youth’ in 2003. This publication was later re-launched in 2007 as Today’s YouthAsia with an expanded outreach.
“I always felt that Asia as a region lacked integration, within its countries and its people. That is why we are judged and analysed through a global lens that is not our own, but that of the West,” explains Shah.
In the same year, the magazine was also launched in Pakistan in the city of Karachi in collaboration with Iqra University. The editorial team in Karachi aims to provide a platform for the Pakistani youth to interact and discuss their issues with youth from other neighbouring countries, including India.
“Like Pakistan, we also face problems of feudalism, nepotism and ethnic diversity in Nepal. Since we found a common ground with Pakistan, we felt we should collaborate with them first.”
As the editorial team in Kathmandu expanded, Shah managed to branch out and initiated other youth-related projects in various schools and colleges of Nepal. Meanwhile, he was working as the South Asian Correspondent for SCOLA Television, headquarters based in Iowa (USA).
During this time, he also began working on a television talk show ‘Power Talks’ that features global leaders, celebrities, diplomats and covers their personal and professional commentaries and insights on world politics, development and change.
“The most challenging part of launching this programme was gathering the finances. Most advertisers found the idea interesting, but they were unwilling to invest in a ‘black man’,” says Shah, referring to his Madheshi caste. People from this caste are labeled as second class citizens by the ruling class in Nepal and are often discriminated against.
However, he managed to raise some funds with the help of his friends and contacts in the international media for the launch of the first season of his show, which became instantly popular among the Nepalese audience.
In 2008, the Universal Peace Federation and its affiliate organisation the Youth Federation for World Peace also acknowledged Santosh Shah as the ‘Youth Ambassador for Peace’ for his active contribution through the media.
“Although the Today YouthAsia (TYA) team now focuses on issues related to all age-groups, we decided to continue with our ‘Youth’ tag in order to represent and emphasise the fact that the focus of this magazine is the future and therefore, the youth.”
“In this context, TYA is exclusively futuristic,” says Shah on his website
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