The United Nations General Assembly defines volunteerism as an activity undertaken out of free will, for the public good, and where monetary reward is not the principal motivating factor. It is expressed through a wide range of activities, including traditional forms of mutual aid and self-help, formal service delivery, campaigning and advocacy, as well as other forms of civic participation. Volunteering represents an important form and manifestation of youth participation across the globe. United Nations General Assembly vide Resolution 56/38 recognized the important role of volunteerism for “any strategy aimed at, inter alia, such areas as poverty reduction, sustainable development, health, disaster prevention and management and social integration and, in particular, overcoming social exclusion and discrimination”. The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) promotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. UN Volunteers take part in various forms of volunteerism and play a role in development and peace together with co-workers, host agencies and local communities.
The origin and development of volunteerism in India has been shaped by its indigenous traditions and value systems rooted in the religion and cultural interactions with incoming cultures throughout its history. Volunteerism has long been an integral part of the Indian society. During the Vedic period, ‘daanam’ (giving/sharing) was more or less confined to the occasions of big sacrifices patronized by chieftains or kings, however, in the post Vedic period, ‘daanam’ became a much more prevalent practice among the common people. There are no laws or regulations, which specifically regulate volunteerism in India. However, the National Policy on the Voluntary Sector (2007), pledges to encourage, enable and empower an independent, creative and effective non-profit /NGO sector. The National Youth Policy- 2014 also lays strong emphasis on promotion of civic engagement for youth empowerment.
The India Volunteering Conclave aims to bring together policymakers, Volunteer Involving Organizations (VIOs), private sector, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), academia and volunteers together on one platform to share good practices, discuss innovative ideas and recommend strategies and policy interventions for promoting volunteerism and youth participation in development processes and nation building.
The overarching objective of the conclave is to provide a platform to policymakers, VIOs, CSOs, academia, and volunteers to discuss and recommend strategies for strengthening and promoting volunteerism in India. More specifically, the proposed conclave will support the following objectives:
- To discuss the latest trends in volunteerism and facilitate the exchange of experiences and good practices amongst the policymakers, VIOs, the private sector, civil society, and volunteers.
- To identify, share, and co-create innovative approaches to strengthen volunteering infrastructure in the country.
- To discuss opportunities for integrating volunteers in the implementation of development schemes and programmes.
- To provide an opportunity for building effective partnerships among government, the private sector, civil society, academia, and bi-lateral/multi-lateral agencies to promote volunteerism.
- To provide an opportunity for outstanding volunteers to share experience and showcase their achievements.
United Nations Volunteers (UNV) is the nodal UN agency that contributes to peace and development worldwide through volunteerism. UNV believes in ‘Volunteerism for Development’. The concept of volunteerism for development centers on optimizing volunteerism’s impact on peace and development. Achieving this, requires the cooperation and commitment of the public sector, civil society and the private sector with support from the United Nations system and the world community. Individual citizens also have an important role to play through volunteering. Every day, individuals are engaged in development initiatives through volunteer actions, both large and small, in an effort to improve conditions for others and themselves. Volunteerism by millions of people is critical to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MoYAS) functioned under the overall guidance of the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs & Sports during the year. Since 2014, UNV has an ongoing partnership with the MoYAS to strengthen the youth volunteering schemes – Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) and National Service Scheme (NSS). Guided by the National Youth Policy (2014), the 12th Five Year Plan of Government of India and UNV’s strategic framework, the project aims to provide catalytic support to the two flagship Youth Volunteer Schemes and intends to facilitate youth participation and voice in peace and sustainable development programmes in order to fully realize the social, economic and human potential of the youth.
UNDP has worked in India since 1951 in almost all areas of human development, from democratic governance to poverty eradication, to sustainable energy and environmental management. UNDP’s programmes are aligned with national priorities and are reviewed and adjusted annually. In a rapidly changing global environment, the work of UNDP and the broader UN family aligns with the Government of India’s new national development vision, India 2030, and builds upon the Sustainable Development Goals.