Youth seek to be the vehicle of change...

Youth seek to be the vehicle  of change...

With black bands on their heads, holding placards in their hands and raising slogans in protest against sexual harassment and calling for a change in criminal law – December 16 gangrape was a eye-opener for all, especially the youth. Thousands of girls and boys took to the streets to protest against the heinous crime. This was our ‘Tahrir Square’ moment. 

The protests reflected the Indian middle class and the youth’s growing angst over social problems and the Government’s inability to control the situation. Be it Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption crusade or Arvind Kejriwal’s movement for a democracy directly in the hands of the common man, the youth’s active participation in rallies and campaigns saw a phenomenal spurt. 

But, why is the youth, normally interested in partying and being carefree, is suddenly taking a keen interest in politics? What is the reason for the Capital witnessing a rec­ord turn-out of young voters this time? What is making them realise their importance as vehicles of change for the country’s better future? Indeed, the credit should be given to Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s youngest Chief Minister for this. Sweeping the ‘broom’ across Delhi, he proved that an ‘aam aadmi’ is not helpless and can change the direction of the wind. 

But, this would  have been impossible without the support of his team of young acti­vists and leaders. Twenty six-year-old Rakhi Birla and 34­-­year-old Saurabh Bhardwaj from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) became the youngest cabinet ministers in the history of Delhi, along with four other ministers including the Chief Minister.

Talking about the increasing interest of youth in politics, Akash Nagar, a law student from Delhi University who was closely associated with AAP as a volunteer, says, “I got into this movement because I was really disturbed with this indifferent attitude of the Government towards its people. Being a part of AAP, I thought we could help change the Government machinery. Our parents used to tell us that nothing is going to chan­ge and it will continue like this. Then the film Rang De Basanti initiated the concept of candle-light march which we have been seeing since the Jessica Lal murder case. And according to me the social media and AAP gave me a platform to be part of this change.”

Another keen follower of politics who aims to be a leader, Aparajita Bharti seconds Akash on this. Currently working for a Member of Parliament (MP) in a strategic communication department of a consulting firm, she says, “Becoming a political leader will be the best way to make a large-scale impact. I have been associated with NGOs in the past and have done many street plays too. And during my days of student-activism, I did a lot of research on policies and politics and hence realised that good policies can benefit many people. After this I went on to study Public Policy at Oxford University and got a better understanding of how economics and po­licies work. Hence, my inte­r­est in politics.”

All these present a very clear image of the urban youth politically mobilising itself into a force to reckon with. Given India’s ‘youth bulge’ and the bigger picture ahead, if they are mobilised and motivated, they would play a decisive role in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Sneha Kothawade, a yoga instructor and a writer who was part of the Anna movement, says, “I could not tolerate the high-handedness of the Government anymore. As a citizen and a voter, I could not see the ‘Government servants’ acting like masters. There was a feeling of helples­sness after learning about one scam after the another. Somebody had to put a full stop to it. Being a part of such a movement gave me a platform and also a significant role as a citizen. Other than just commen­ting on issues and reading things on newspapers, it gave me a chance to be part of a change, a movement.” 

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