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Awakening the Indonesian Youth

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It has been proven that a cornerstone waking up national resurgence was built by the youth of Indonesian. While the struggle of the older generation in the Dutch-colonialization era tend to be confined in local mindset, the youth came up with the idea that such method never achieve a goal to deprive the Dutch from the land of Indonesia. Of course in that time their idea was deemed too extreme since no one before ever came out with such idea, but, in that time the elder’s cynicism could also be understood, their hypothesis was logical, if we had not ever succedded of outpowering the Dutch in each of our every local area, how could we gain win over them in the entire archiplelago of Indonesia?

Instead of lamenting from the elder’s cynicism, the youth of Indonesia was more intense to achieve their dream. History has taught us that one main factor has contributed to their later success, education. It cannot be denied that the main drivers of our national resurgence were they who had good education. It began from group of noble Javanese who were lucky enough to have opportunity to study in the first Indonesian medical school. The alumnus of the school, Tjipto Mangunkusumo, Wahidin Sudirohusodo, Tirto Adhi Suryo, etc were later renowned of being the ones who lighted the torch of national resurgence. If we examine deeper, it was very rare of noble Javanese to have such “nationalism”. The Dutch who were smart enough realized that the hearts of Indonesian lied on their nobleman who were also their leaders. So, the Dutch put all efforts to make the aristocrats weak, by bribing, giving them good position in government, etc. But, suddenly, it changed when the aristocrats had opportunity to enter education. A simple thing like education can open their mind that their advantage as aristocrats should force them to give more to their society.

Later, we saw that the estafet sticks were continued by two strongholds, from Indonesia led by Sukarno, and from the Netherlands led by Hatta. We also concluded the same drivers of both of them, young and well-educated. Sukarno, who was also a noble Javanese, was trained as an engineer in Technische Hogeschool Bandung (later it became Insitut Teknologi Bandung). Hatta, who came from wealth familty of Minangkabau descent studied economics in school now we know as Erasmus University Rotterdam. They organized group of youth similar like them to achieve their penultimate goal, independence of Indonesia, and bring welfare to its citizen. The stories went on, and it was not quick struggle, after they graduated, they still need 10-15 years before their dream finally attained.

Now, we are also the Indonesian youth who have many great opportunities in every area we are. Of course we are not trying to make any comparison, it is too far. Soekarno, Hatta, Sjahrir, and their other allies sacrified many things to get good education. They got education with their own money; their family supplied the fund for them. Compare with us, we have been given more pleasant road. But, as aforementioned in the past paragraphs, as the youth we bear responsibility to contribute to our society, with every way we could. We as the youth need to act to heal this huge but not yet a prosper country.

Our country now is one of major powers in international economics. Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 was approximately USD 920 billion, and it was 17th largest economy in the world. By five to ten years from now, it is predicted that we will be top ten in the world economy. But, the statistics mean nothing since we all know that almost 15% of our population still lives below poverty and line and 7% does not have job. In term of Indonesia, those are huge humbers since they correspondend to approximately 33 million and 15 million respectively.

Talking of income disparity, it is more severe, yet it is also obvious. We can easily observe that by two or three years, most of prestigious university graduates will earn more that USD 15,000 yearly, while in the other end they who only finish their education in high school are struggle to make just USD 3,000 yearly. We may blame that they cannot afford prosper life because they did not study hard so that they can enter universities. But, such blame will be counterattacked since we all know that people do not enter higher education not because they are not smart enough, but there is just no education system that can be accessed by majority of our citizen. They who earn USD 15,000 also do not automatically indicate that our economy is really that good. We all know that major contributors in our industry are foreign-financed ones, where the greater part of their profit runs back to their origin countries.

To make things more severe, we have to accept that the worst part of our condition is that Indonesian’s youth have been slept for too long time. Indonesian youth now has tendency to be very skeptical of their country. What they are mostly aware is just that everyone has to study and study hard so he or she can afford prosper life. This is true in term of everybody’s life, but very dangerous when we bring this up to the level of nation life. Everybody should be care about our society, especially the ones who are well-educated, just like our ancestors did. Soekarno, Hatta, Sjahrif, and all the founding fathers sacrified their own prosperity to the significance of this entire country, and if they could, why can us? Someone has to start to awaken this sleeping country.

As a starting point, we can try to make contribution to our society with every way that we could. Of course our little endeavors are not time-wrapped that after we act sudden positive change will happen to Indonesia, which is not plausible. But, by sharing ideas, discussing about future Indonesia and more important raising our spirit as the Indonesian youth, we can dream that, fifteen or twenty years later we can see better Indonesia. We believe that by spirit of Indonesian youth we can look for positive outlook, that is the flame ready to burn, and we are now here to start lighting the torch.

Groningen, 26 January 2013 (0 degree Celcius)

Author: Rully Cahyono

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