Youth is the meticulous term for rage, fury and enlightenment. Student leaders and young freedom fighters have staked their lives for revolutionizing the nation for a better future. Be it extremists, fanatics or ‘tooth-for-tooth’ strategists, juvenile leaders of the young age have provided noteworthy changes in the fields of empowerment, education or correcting the very democratic flaw, abiding to their own political thesis. Here is a list of top 10 inspirational young leaders who have made some significant contribution in India:
1. Charu Majumdar: Also known as ‘The Father of Naxalism’, Comrade Charu Majumdar’s life is a story of “riches to rags”, an intentional step towards a pro-communist approach. He, along with his group, are together a reason why the 1968 Naxalbari uprising of militant peasants took place, a reason why red radicals uproar even today, a reason why the conflict continues in every red corridor of the nation. Even as a teenager, Charu Majumdar rebelled against social inequalities. His life reflects his works of uniting laborers, tea gardeners and rickshaw-pullers which never dampened his zealous revolutionary spirits in spite of the social conditions that clutched him. His writings have turned into ideologies which channelize red revolutions today. Charu Majumdar was, is and will continue to remain a legend in the eyes of every ultra-Leftist.
2. Savitribai Phule: Her humble character continues to be printed in every text-book of Maharashtra, her revolutionary reforms are remembered in every nook and corner of the country, Savitribai Phule was a woman who strived against the odds. She had been mocked, thrown eggs at, tomatoes and even stones by orthodox men but her zeal to continue teaching girls never faded. She protested against ‘sati’, sheltered orphaned children, embraced the untouchables, raised the bar for women’s self-esteem and confidence, and campaigned against many social ill-practices; a true redeemer. After the demise of her husband Jotirao, it was Savitribai who took over responsibility of the Satya Shodhak Samaj, a group which aimed to liberate social ideologies with regard to untouchables and which was founded by Jotirao himself. She broke all odds by being the first woman in Indian history to light up her husband’s pyre. Savitribai Phule continues to remain an inspiration to us all.
3. Shaheed Bhagat Singh: Anarchist, Marxist, martyr, mystic atheist and the famous anti-Gandhian philosopher, Bhagat Singh continues to be one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement. We all are well aware of his sacrificial legacy, but Bhagat Singh had something more to offer. He was a youth icon, a representation of ferocity, zeal and valor. He founded the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, a youth organization in 1926 during his course at the National College in Lahore. Violence was Bhagat Singh’s way, opposing the very core of the Gandhian doctrine. In Pt. Nehru’s words, “He was a clean fighter who faced his enemy in the open field, he was like a spark that became a flame in a short time and spread from one end of the country to the other dispelling the prevailing darkness everywhere.”
4. Shaheed Chandrashekar Azad (1906-1931): Nurtured by earth, Chandrashekar Tiwari joined the Non-Cooperation Movement led by M.K. Gandhi and was arrested and sentenced to fifteen days imprisonment with harsh punishment when he was barely 15. Socialist by choice, Chandrashekar pledged an oath to achieve independence by all means. Well known as an icon while he proudly pinches his mustache, there is a reason why he was rightly named from Tiwari to ‘Azad’. Chandrashekar once claimed that he named himself ‘Azad’ as he would never be taken alive by the police. And so he did. At the end of his time, faced with armed police, Chandrashekar committed suicide at an age of 24 by shooting himself. His noteworthy contribution to the struggle remains committed to our memories.
5. Sheetal Sathe: Sheetal Sathe’s image represents the outcry to every Dalit’s tale of oppression. She joined the Kabir Kala Mandal (KKM) in 2005, a troupe of spirited musicians who convey a social message via their poetries, melodious songs and various other public performances, inspired by Kabir. Her songs convey a deep symphonic message about feminism, casteism, equality and the unbridled capitalism. She is one of the few hearts for a cause. Her songs explore the root of every issue she addresses along with the strength of poetic devices as her mellow voice reaches out to every listener. Her attempt to bring to notice about the atrocities faced by Dalits in Maharasthra even today and on her arrest of being falsely tagged as a Maoist has sparked debates all over the nation, questioning why artists and not militants like Sheetal have been curbed of freedom of expressions via their mediums. Sheetal Sathe is proudly saluted with “Jai Bhim!”
6. Chandrashekar Prasad: Che, Chandu, Chandrashekar. His name continues to be chanted and praised in every young red tongue of the nation. Chadrashekar was a significant anti-imperialist, communist and a full-time activist fired with an outraging fury against oppression. A student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Chandrashekar had played a key-role in building up the All India Student Association (ASIA) there. He had embarked himself into the political struggle within the University and opposed many of the University’s policies, winning each one successfully. He was the initiator to a spark, an inspiration to all left-wing students of the communist regime in India. Assassinated by the opposing party on the streets of Siwan in 1997, the reaction led to a mass movement by students from Delhi to Siwan. In his words, “My ambition is to live like Bhagat Singh and die like Che Guevara!” Till today, Comrade Chandrashekar Prasad is considered as a martyr with red salutes up high and firm!
7. Kavita Krishnan: Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, vivid skeptic, editor of ‘Liberation’: the monthly publication of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), Kavita Krishnan is the unshaken voice to every woman’s rage against repression. Her famous speech at the house of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit during the 2012 Delhi gang-rape protests was an eye-opener to the governance who took the unblemished strength of the activist’s voice for granted. Her use of euphemism, strength of eloquence and the need for answers resulted wordless Sheila finally speak-out. Kavita Krishnan has also been a student activist, helping to organize women students on many campuses to demand mechanisms against sexual harassment. Kavita is the notable enlightening activist on the block!
8. Prakash Karat (Born: 1948): Serving as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Prakash is an achiever. He began his debut in student politics during his course in Masters in Politics at the University of Edinburg when he met Victor Kiernan, a well-known Marxist historian. He was rusticated by the university for his righteous protests at the University. In the later years, he continued to spread the red dogma at the Jawaharlal Nehru University during his Ph.D., thus founding the Student’s Federation of India (SFI). His books and political writings continue to inspire pro-Marxist students in India.
9. Dayamani Barla: ‘Adivasi’ by birth, journalist by stream, socialist by choice. Jharkhand’s Dayamani Barla’s struggle of making a mark among the tribal communities in the state has its own unique tale to tell. Her organization ‘Adivasi, Moolvaasi, Astitwa Raksha Manch’ continues to fight against the installation of Arcelor Mittal’s billion-dollar steel project which may cause to dislocate at least 40 villages and also endanger the eco-system, water sources and the environment. Her remarkable move has been notable for her activism. Dayamani is also the National President of Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF). A writer for a popular Hindi newspaper called Prabhat Khaba, Dayamani brings to the attention of the numerous social problems faced by the tribal communities in Jharkhand. Her achievement in both journalism as well as activism has won her a number of prestigious awards and laurels which truly makes her an inspiration on our list.
10. Kiran Bedi: Her urge to be outstanding is an inspiration to all women aspiring to be the Indian Police Officer dream. Apart from being the first woman in Indian history to join the Indian Police Service, Kiran Bedi always finds her way towards empowering a social cause. She is also the founder of two NGOs, Navjyoti and India Vision Foundation which reaches to more than thousands of under-served children, women and men in the areas of education, vocational skills, environment, counseling, health and care to urban and rural poor, including prisoners and policemen’s children. Kiran Bedi is a name to every courageous woman, a symbol of esteem on the other side of the coin. Her bravery has won her many laurels. Kiran Bedi is a name never to be forgotten.