Youth in Politics: The Need Not the Bane

By Ranjit K. Sahu

The recent series of elections in the biggest democracy of the world have brought in a sea change in the political scenario of not only the nation but in the world stage when examined in the context of the renouncing of old concepts and ushering newer ones. Apart from being the harbinger of a new order into the Indian political system, the recent elections have brought in another less appreciated aspect of the Indian democracy: the role and participation of the youth. While the relentless efforts of Shri Modi are commendable in ascertaining the importance of a leader with a vision (or a mission) however quixotic it may be labeled by the opposition, the vitality of the youth needs to be given its due credit.

Unlike other democracies around the world, India has in the present scenario been blessed with a high percentage of youth, who with their active involvement in the electoral process as well as sociopolitical contribution can affect a long lasting development agenda for the nation. Add to this the newly found assets of internet access, cell phones, social networking sites   and computer literacy, a growing proportion of the youth is a resource that a political party can no longer ignore, elections being held or not. Galvanizing this indispensable resource to catalyze a development program that is both feasible and sustainable in the long run should be the primary focus of the government whichever is in power for the next few decades unless they wish the country to be one of the most economically burdened nations in the world after twenty five years when most of today’s young would be part of the ageing population.

The other aspect of this change is the role played by the youth in politics. Conventional wisdom indicated that youth be kept away from politics due to its reputations as “the last resort of scoundrels” in the Indian psyche, the outcome of which was parents vehemently opposing any participation of the youth in politics, directly or indirectly while forcing them into trades that would result in employment and ability to care for the parents in the old age. It is of course not entirely the fault of the older generation as they aged in a system where the youth were expected to care for their parents both due to traditional way of living as well as due to the absence of any definitive social security system for the elderly by the government. Thus, the youth were more or less drawn into the rat race, having little time or interest in the affairs of the country. That is until now when they realized that their indifference has caused the system to rot and deteriorate into a chaos which ultimately affected their very own survival and prospects. However, the appearance of religious fanaticism that not only discourages the youth to participate in democratic norms but also encourages them to take up arms and rise against established governments needs to be effectively counteracted through youth participation in democracy. Thus they need to be introduced into political arena early.

The role of political dynasties has played a very important role in both the national and international stage for the introduction of newcomers. Yet like all other professions, rarely has the baggage of carrying a legacy been easy on the inheritors be it Mr. Rahul Gandhi or Amit Thackeray. On the other hand people with no political background in the family but participating in the politics from student days have done extremely well though their sheer grit and hard work. The late Smt. Nandini Satpathy or presently Smt. Sushma Swaraj, are among those who come under this classification. These stalwarts had strong principle and have been bold enough to take a stand on social or political issues due to early exposure. The indoctrination of politics into the youth encompasses the additional charge of character and personality building on the political mentors as seen in the historical case of Kautilya and Chandragupta Maurya. As Mr. M.K. Gandhi stated: “Politics without principles is a sin”. Unexplained but imperative in this saying is the thought that the principles followed by politicians would target social advance and individual growth in the nation and the present political parties should involve the youth in organizational activities that are directed towards constructive social processes, to inculcate in them a sense of social responsibility and national pride.

The youth have to be involved in mature and developmental politics, harnessing their energy and intelligence for nation building and preventing them from falling prey to the lure of religious fanatics like the ISIS. They have to be demonstrated that political involvement without the accompanying violence is a powerful tool for the sustenance and progress of democracy and that their political involvement is the need and not the bane. This can be done both through their active participation as politicians, joining the elections campaigns, becoming active in social media and casting their votes. We cannot afford or continue to showcase ageing personnel as representatives of a young and resurgent India to the world political fraternity!

About The Author: Ranjit Sahu, was born in India and is a doctorate in biotechnology. He has published two books in poetry ( 2005: A Year of Love and Drunk ) and his poems have appeared in the website of Presently, he is working on several volumes of poems with different themes.

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