Indonesia Cries for Contemporary Heroes

indonesia cries for heroesPeople commemorate the patriotic war against the Dutch in 1945 in Surabaya on national Heroes Day Nov.10. This commemoration seems overlooked year by year, especially by the younger generation, though it remains relevant to the strengthening of nationalism. On the part of the government, there has been a tendency that the National Hero Day was a period to grant the title of National Hero to those who fought for independence. Regardless of its annually important award, the commemoration of National Hero Day should also be oriented towards seeking and esteeming the country’s contemporary heroes.

Contemporary heroes could be defined as someone who turns up trumps due to their belief in self-reliance and their reliance on no comfort zone. Such features, among others, are inherently attached to intellectual, entrepreneur, and professional. Indonesia is in dire need of more practising intellectuals for the country’s abundant human resources to empower. It benefits from the large and growing portion of the younger generation from its 240 million-strong population, which is expected to last for 20 and 30 years to come.

Indonesian modern intellectuals play a momentous role in engineering beneficial social change by means of the kinetic human resource. Those intellectuals assume greater responsibility in the management of human capital in order to keep up with the country’s strong economic performance. Their constant efforts to update their strategies and approaches to create the right human capital through better education are heroic since management systems and processes can easily become outdated.

The success in taking on rapid socioeconomic development requires the intellectuals to lead the change rather than passively waiting for it. Anies Baswedan, the rector of Jakarta’s Paramadina University, is one of the country’s noted intellectuals and most promising future leaders. He does not merely observe record, comment and leave the active engagement to others in his various writings but also directly appears on social stage to lead the change.

Anies is a scholar behind the Indonesia Mengajar (Indonesia Teaches) foundation that sends young prominent Indonesians to the very ends of the country to become volunteer teachers. He is a genuine person of action and reflection, who emphasizes that idea and movement must be conducted at once. Typifying a younger figure, Anies is a dedicated activist intellectual whose activism has been difficult, rewarding and practically empowering.

Entrepreneurs are the country’s next recent heroes walking their talk on hoeing one’s own row. They are veritable source of reliance transforming their lives from zero to hero. This country benefits from these heroes because they can provide jobs not only to narrow the gap between available jobs and new workers but also to prevent social crime.

While many university graduates still have a dream of being government employees owing to comfort zone they would enjoy, young entrepreneurs prefer cracking zone and challenges for the sake of self-esteem. The later understand that their gaining of fame or prosperity no longer bents on the government incentives.

Weak entrepreneurship in Indonesia has turned the country to the lowest rates of new business formation in Asia. Based on a Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study (2012) it is found that 14.5 percent of Americans and 7.2 percent of Singaporeans want to start their own business, but fewer than one percent of Indonesians, 0.18 percent.

If the government is really serious about emboldening these modern heroes, some steps are urgently needed to get rid of stumbling blocks, which include providing more access to capital for small businesses and better education for would-be entrepreneurs.

Education, therefore, is very influential in creating would-be entrepreneurs. Not only does it pave the smooth way for sharpening networking but also it greatly breaks the cycle of poverty. Though there are countless entrepreneurs who made millions without a college degree — For instance, Basrizal Koto, Bob Sadino, Purdi E Chandra, Hendy Setiono, and many others — schools and universities are still instrumental in providing students and young people with theories and practices of business ventures.

Center of Enterpreneur Development (CED) of Gadjah Mada University, Center Entrepreneurship Development and Studies (CEDS) of University of Indonesia, or Entrepreneurship Center (EC) of Andalas University, to mention just a few, have been proved to be successful in fostering entrepreneurial ethos and creating new entrepreneurs among students.

Along with entrepreneurs, professionals might also be categorized as further contemporary heroes in this archipelago. While intellectuals use their expertise to guide social change, professionals use their skill to contribute to this nation. With their impressive achievement, people look to them as trend setters. Their uniqueness sets the scene for endless creativity and far-reaching breakthrough. The professionals are increasingly needed amidst the country’s emerging middle class with a view to diversifying excessive human capital.

Indonesia never runs out of fresh professionals at home and abroad. Let us say Ridwan Kamil, an international award winning architect, and Dian Pelangi, a Muslim fashion designer. Ridwan—coming from a middle-class family—is keen on designing buildings to constructing communities, while Dian—a young Muslim designer—succeeds in blending fashion and faith in her collections and receiving favorable reviews abroad, such as Australia. Ridwan and Dian are leading persons who maximize their abilities to provide the best for the people around them.

Donny Syofyan

Donny SyofyanThe writer, a graduate of the University of Canberra-Australia, teaches cultural studies at Andalas University, Indonesia.

One Response to Indonesia Cries for Contemporary Heroes

  1. I was intrigued to read your posting about Indonesia’s need for “contemporary heroes” who can ignite social change through thoughtful action (my reading of your words). Though this query may seem random, but as you seem to be someone who is alert to social issues and those who are working to make a difference, I decided to write to you. For a new project that I am developing at the East-West Center, a nonprofit educational and research organization headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, I am in the process of identifying such ‘heroes’ — though more in terms of groups/organizations rather than some charismatic individuals — that are working to foster social change. In particular, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on which organizations in Indonesia are working with youth to address social issues, including youth violence and conflict issues. I am especially interested in groups that engage youth through sports-based youth development or other extracurricular activities or community service efforts. I look forward to your reply.

    Namji Steinemann

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