I had the pleasure of interacting with Ilaan Garware, a class 12th student with IB board. Along with his schoolmates, he has launched the Youth Historical Foundation Maharashtra, a body aimed at kindling a profound appreciation for Maharashtra’s rich heritage and culture among the younger generation.
The essence of the foundation is to “… ensure that future generations understand the past and take pride in their roots. … Some people ask, why should we bother studying history? It is the past, it is irrelevant. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Without history, we lose our sense of identity. This is happening with the youth today. YHFM seeks to rekindle a sense of cultural identity in the hearts of the youth, and their approach is both commendable and inspiring.
In our conversation, Ilaan observed that if we go away from our identity and roots it leads to a lot of confusion. I entirely agree with him. I asked him how he realized this, after all not too many young people talk about heritage and roots in this era of globalization. He said that while studying in an IB school, he met a lot of students who were from Maharashtra but grew up in other countries. They saw the reality of their home state superficially, prompting Ilaan to introduce them to the cultural marvels of Pune and Maharashtra.
Things started coming together on a school field trip he took with his fellow school mates to the Pataleshwar Caves near Pune. It was an ‘aha’ moment for many, marveling at the ancient heritage. It motivated Ilaan to do more to help his fellow students appreciate the heritage of Maharashtra and the idea of YHFM started taking shape. As the young students are based out of Pune, they decided to explore the heritage of Pune first. The plans are to expand to the rest of Maharashtra and then to India.
The foundation aims at youth engagement: YHFM aims to inspire and educate the youth of Maharashtra about their rich heritage. By connecting young minds with history, they hope to instill a sense of pride and responsibility for its preservation.
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The initiative to begin with is digital, you can follow the foundation on Instagram and YouTube accounts. Taking a digital initiative makes sense in today’s connected world and given that the membership base of the foundation is geographically diverse! The skill set of this dedicated group also points to a digital path as it comprises of proficient video editors, skilled photographers, and adept content writers, all united by a shared vision: to foster awareness and educate the youth about the profound historical legacy and well-preserved culture of Maharashtra.
As of now, Ilaan Garware is involved in the day to day functioning of the foundation but once he goes abroad in his pursuit of higher studies in history he plans to pass on the work of the foundation to younger students. He would still be involved in the advisory capacity. When asked what his biggest challenge is in running the foundation, he said it was bringing people from different time zone together. He said the discussions amongst the members could get passionate but there was no negativity within the group.
The foundation plans to do work beyond the virtual realm in the future. The Youth Historical Foundation Maharashtra is a beacon of hope for preserving the cultural and historical heritage of Maharashtra. Through their passion and dedication they are not only making history come alive but also inspiring others to take pride in their roots. Their journey is a testament to the power of the past in shaping a brighter future.