As we’re celebrating International Youth Day today, we ought to realise the power our youth holds within itself. The impact we youngsters have as a generation, is unparalleled. The strength, resilience and dedication of the youth can drive major changes in the world. While the youth is the backbone of the country, the issues faced by them also require to be addressed diligently by the society. International Youth Day is dedicated to create awareness about such problems and to foster the drive that make things better, easier and successful for them. And Yuvaa is a platform that truly embodies the spirit of the youth. Right from its philosophy to actions, Yuvaa is an out-and-out safe space for the younger generation.

We Are Yuvaa

Founded in 2019 by Nikhil Taneja, Amritpal Singh Bindra, and Anand Tiwari, the inspiration to start Yuvaa came after seeing the lack of representation of young Indians in the media and the lack of platforms to share their stories. Yuvaa is a youth platform that aims to make every young Indian feel less alone by making them feel more heard, more seen, and more represented through research, content, campus connect, and purpose-led campaigns.

Yuvaa has been featured in various top publications, has also won several awards, including the Digital Empowerment Foundation’s Changemaker Award and the World Economic Forum’s Social Impact Award. It is a valuable platform for young Indians to connect with each other, to share their stories, and to make a difference in the world. Social Nation got the opportunity to speak to one of the bright minds behind Yuvaa, its CEO, Kevin Lee!

kevin lee yuvaa international youth day

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As a teenager, what was your career choice?

Ever since I was 15 years old and watched the movie ‘All the Presidents Men’ (about the investigative reporting during the Watergate scandal), I wanted to be a journalist. I’d dream of going around the country covering different stories and unearthing truths that not a lot of people knew. Even though I probably didn’t understand it back then, the idea that ‘information is power’ has always appealed to me, and I’ve been lucky enough in my career to work as a journalist for 5 years, but also to be around for a transition in the media space and be a part of that change.

How did Yuvaa come together? How did you get the idea for creating a platform for the youth?

The idea for Yuvaa actually came from our co-founder, Nikhil Taneja. Nikhil used to teach journalism at Jai Hind College (I’m actually a student of his too!) and he’d notice that while the media and pop culture depicted young people as cool, rebellious and always thinking about sex and drugs, his experiences actually showed young people as lonely, confused and needing a safe space to talk about things that matter to them. He spoke to our other two co-founders, Amritpal Bindra and Anand Tiwari about this, and the three of them brought Yuvaa to life.

He added, “When I joined Yuvaa, close to a year after it was incorporated, I was tasked with the responsibility of developing the voice of the platform as Editorial Lead. The voice we settled on was to always try to make young people feel less lonely, but also to make important things interesting for young people. Since then, we’ve gone from 12,000 followers on Instagram to a combined total of almost 1.5 million followers across Instagram, YouTube, Josh, Twitter and Threads. From starting off as a platform that only shared what young people said at our open mics, we’ve now evolved into an organisation that talks about mental health, gender and identity, pop culture, sexual health, cybersafety, climate change among many other topics that young Indians are interested in, and have partnered with some of India and indeed the world’s most important and interesting organisations including UNICEF, the Gates Foundation, Meta, Google, Tinder, Spotify, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, IBM, Loreal and more.

What are 3 things according to you that today’s youth must learn to succeed?

  • Adaptability and the agility to not be too attached to one thing, thought, skill or aspiration and the ability to keep up with the breakneck speed at which the world is changing.
  • Knowing the difference between your rational mind and your emotional mind, and finding a balance between which one to listen to in which situation.
  • Communication not just with clients, bosses or team members but also being able to honestly communicate with yourself about your goals, aspirations, and shortcomings.

What is the future of Yuvaa and how do you plan to make an impact with your work?

Yuvaa turned 5 years old in 2023, and I feel like we’re just scratching the surface of what we want to do. One of our favourite things to do has always been to go on-ground to colleges across the entire country and speak to young people in person to understand their wants and needs – unfortunately, Covid made that difficult for the last 3 years, but this year, we were able to go back on the road to 25 campuses across 8 cities and meet over 10,000 young people. We definitely want to keep going to colleges and creating safe spaces on-ground.

Masculinity is another big focus area for us – we’re coming up with a chat show called ‘Be a Man, Yaar‘ with Nikhil Taneja, where we’ve spoken to men like Karan Johar, Vicky Kaushal, Naseeruddin Shah, Zakir Khan, Sushant Divgikar and more about their idea of masculinity and examining why so many young men today think of feminism as a bad word and are seeking out role models who say controversial and at times misogynistic things on the internet. The elections are coming next year, and we’re looking to understand why younger voters don’t generally show up to vote – we also want to have election debates on college campuses. Of course, mental health remains a very important part of the work we do and we’re looking to come back with the Yuvaa Therapy Project through which we provide thousands of hours of free therapy sessions to young people who can’t afford them.

What are 3 Gen Z terms that you’ve adopted?

I’m lucky enough to work with so many Gen Z, as 70% of our team at Yuvaa is Gen Z – so these terms don’t feel like Gen Z terms for me, they’ve just become part of my vocabulary.

  • FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, which is now a classic Gen Z term I use regularly.
  • Flex, which means showing off about something in a subtle way, like how I’m
    currently flexing my Gen Z vocabulary.
  • Touchgrass, which is a sassy way to say “get off the internet and go outside.”

It was beyond amazing to dive into the mind of Yuvaa’s CEO: Kevin Lee. We’re sure that this super insightful conversation lit up a fire inside your young soul, the way it did for us. Happy International Youth Day guys!