Young Indian at the Synod: more than mobile phones, the desire to find ourselves
by Anna Chiara Filice

Percival Holt is the only young Indian invited to the bishops' meeting. He speaks of a new model of youth, born of the digital revolution and the imitation of Western models. A "generational transition" that upsets patterns and poses new challenges. "Faith in action" next to prayer.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - What the young people of India are asking of Catholic bishops is that they "help us find our way by realizing ourselves, not just by imitating Western models”, says Percival Holt, the only young Indian present at the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican until October 28".

The 25 year old has a long involvement in Catholic outreach and speaking to AsiaNews describes how the life experience of the new generations of his country, their anxieties and fears. A new "prototype of youth" emerges from his words, made of more open relationships between males and females and with other religions, of interest for Western culture, of search for personal autonomy and good jobs to achieve economic independence. Alongside all this, he adds, a new awareness of being Christians has formed: "Prayer is no longer enough for us, today's youth want to put their faith into action".

Percival is 25 and has a master's degree in biotechnology; he lives in New Delhi and is the president of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement. He started attending the group at the age of 17, and has since got to know different Indian realities. For this reason he would like to point out that "there is a marked difference between how young people live in the country, from north to south".

His experience is that of an educated young man, born and raised in the capital, where "the influence of Western culture is most felt. The young people of the cities aim to have a good job and even before that, a good education. They lead a very similar life to that of young Europeans or Americans.  Young people who live in the more rural areas, have more or less the same expectations, with the difference that they are more family oriented ".

By "family oriented" Percival means not only the attachment to family ties, but above all the need to make a career to support the family from an economic point of view. To make a simplification, "young people in the cities think more about themselves, young people from the villages of the community".

What Percival recounts is the "digital generation", which witnessed the boom in the spread of internet and social media. The young man shares the perplexities of Pope Francis about this generation 2.0 always attached to the mobile phone.

"Young people in India - he explains - are very rooted in family ties, in cultural traditions that often mix with religion. But in the last few years we have taken part in the digital revolution and we are surrounded by an overexposure to foreign models. This risks pushing us to passively imitate other lifestyles, trying to copy someone else's existence. But when you compare it with your own reality, the gap emerges: and this can lead to great personal frustrations or develop a sense of inferiority ".

Often, Percival points out, "what young people want to be does not reconcile with family traditions and this creates deep upsets". Therefore it is necessary that "the bishops guide us in this transitory phase. We ask them to help us understand the value of work, the career, of money, the family and how to reconcile everything. We do not just want to imitate, but to realize ourselves as people ".

Faced with this ever-changing society, models from abroad, the greater possibility to travel, according to Percival "prayer is no longer enough for young Catholics, they see their faith as ‘faith in action’ ". Obviously prayer is the basis of our faith, and we want to express it in practice by helping others, with charitable works, humanitarian services, supporting the most needy in the search for work. If I can find work for someone, help the neediest, I feel joy in doing this for others. It is my way to live the faith, the way in which I carry out my mission as a Christian".