Tuesday, December 2, 2008
An X PRIZE for employing youth
Problem-makers from around the world, like with the terrorists in the Mumbai shootings, are usually young, energetic males (in their teens and twenties), poor, barely educated, with plenty of time on their hands to make trouble for everyone!
This whole India bombings thing has really got me thinking.
As I said in my last post from Nov 26th, our team was in India to meet with an interdisciplinary group of experts from across the country. Our goal was to glean ideas for X PRIZEs that would radically change poverty issues in India. The event took place on Nov 19th in the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi, and was energizing and fascinating in many ways. Emeka and I are working on preparing the report now. Maybe we can share some of this information with you once we are finished.
But thinking deeply about poverty issues in India and the recent terrorism attacks in Mumbai started something in my head. The terrorists in this case (and often in most cases, as also with soldiers, rebels, or other problem makers) are often teenage/young 20-something males with a lot of time on their hands. The phrase "an idol mind is a devil's workshop" has obviously never reached them! Many of the countries with problem-makers have relatively chauvenistic cultures where the women do the majority of the work. A significant portion of the population is poor, under the age of 30, with a preferential selection for boys than girls. This, in the end, amounts to a lot of male youth who are barely monitored and have plenty of time on their hands to do with as they will. The bad elements of the world quickly entice these kids and turn them into problem makers.
Even in cultures where there is no "terrorism," these youth find ways to become menaces. In Tamil Nadu (southern India) for example, there is a word called "udavakaray" which literally means "useless fellow." These tend to be barely educated, young, poor, unemployed males who go about the village tormenting the women. Women are terrified of leaving their houses because of "eve-teasing," a phenomenon so called because these "udavakaray" hang around the wells in the evening when the women come to get their water, and then harrass and molest them. Often they hang around in groups, making them stronger, faster, and more uncontrollable. This type of problem is sadly common across many parts of the developing world that I have been to.
So a worthy X PRIZE would be to find a way to address this issue. How do we create an XPRIZE that would turn the plethora of useless young men in the world into beings of usefulness?? Any thoughts?? (of course, the Taliban and many gangs might argue that they have the solution...but I'm not leaning in that route, and frankly we need to guard against exactly this in our development of this prize concept!)