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Nearly 4 Billion People In The World Are Voiceless: THIS Is What We Need To Change

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By Anshul Tewari:

If I ask you about the various issues or problems close to your heart, things that you wish to change, what would you say? I am guessing that your answer would revolve around issues like poverty, hunger, illiteracy, climate change, gender abuse, lack of rural development, biased media, the list is endless. Different people are passionate about different causes and issues. Different issues have different solutions. However, most of us are not able to target or solve these issues.

One of the thoughts that all of us have had since childhood has been the desire to change the world. Everyone wants to. And it is fair enough. We are all stakeholders of the planet and have an equal right to change things around us. However, how many of us get an opportunity to do that? Moreover, how many of us get an opportunity to even talk about these issues – to the right people? Less than 50%.

The political scenario is known to all. In almost all countries, it is extremely difficult for a common man to talk about his or her issues with the local politician, or someone in the position of authority.

If you come to think of it, the world population stands at about 7 billion people. India and China alone, form nearly 3.2 billion people on this planet. Global economies continue to boom and local businesses are at the right time, in the right space. The current scenario of the tech, green and development space is extremely enriching and fruitful for anyone to enter and innovate. But, the issues and problems around us continue to grow. We really wish to talk about them, but to whom do we talk? Moreover, are we ourselves completely informed about the ground reality?

Ran Yunfei, a prominent Chinese blogger who was imprisoned for speaking up against the lack of free press and information in China

Let’s talk about the country with the world’s largest population – China. A population of 2 billion people, but no free press. No media that can hold the Government responsible, or report the common man’s irritation. No media that can talk about a local politicians mischievous acts and the troubles faced by the common man. With 100% control by the Chinese Government, the local media dies under the pressure of what to report and what not to report. The only other medium which should ideally be free- the Internet is also censored.

I remember a news about Ran Yunfei, a Chinese Blogger who was arrested for applauding the Jasmine Revolution and for criticising China for preventing freedom of press and disallowing free flow of information.

This is just one example of how a population of 2 billion does not have a platform to voice themselves.

Now coming to our home country – India, we enjoy a free press and democratic right to freedom of speech and expression. However, this right is not made available to us, or facilitated to the common man.

The total population stands at 1.2 billion people. However, 41.6% of our population is under the poverty line. Moreover, almost 60% of our entire population lives in rural areas and has little or no access to media and the other platforms to voice themselves. Even if they do have access to media, the bias on the part of the mainline media and the lack of coverage of these areas furthers their problems and issues.

Internet only reaches out to about 100 million people, which, considering the size of the total population is peanuts. So how do these people, or even us – who have the privileges, address these issues, address the critical mass and make sure that the people in authority hear us out? Is there potentially no platform – very few, and they have exclusivity.

All in all, in India, about 1 billion people do not get a fair chance to voice their opinions – either due to no media outreach, or due to poverty, lack of knowledge or literacy, or due to lack of platforms like the internet.

That’s a total of 3 billion till now, 2 of China and 1 of India.

Now move to Africa and the Middle East. Africa has a total population of a little over a billion people. However, over 90% of them have no access to the internet. Similarly, in the Middle East, many countries have no free press, and while many do have free internet, they do not get a fair chance to voice themselves. This is evident by the number of bloggers and twitter users who have been arrested in the recent past.

THIS is the crisis.

We are looking at a population of between 3.5 billion to 4 billion people (out of 7 billion in the world), who do not get a fair chance to voice themselves and get heard. The level of participatory democracy is limited to certain people – with certain facilities and outreach. However, a large part of the world faces an epidemic which is being ignored – silently.

How do we expect to change the issues we mentioned earlier if we are not getting a chance to speak up for ourselves, for those issues or for anything for that matter.

When a local Municipal officer can shove me out of his office, just for asking him again and again about my power cut issues, which he has no answer to, then what way would I have with the policy makers?

Not only this, if teachers don’t turn up for lectures and the students can’t complain, then what kind of a freedom of expression are we looking at?

A democratic right is good on paper, but until it is facilitated, it is nothing but a sheet of paper.

THIS is what we need to change.

So, I ask you, where is your right to freedom of expression? Where is mine?

YouthKiAwaaz.com is trying it’s bit to get young people to talk about issues of importance. Speak up now!

You must be to comment.
  1. Sadho

    Excellent piece, Anshul. Very apt and well-timed. The crisis that we are facing of majority of us not coming out and voicing against the issues affecting us, is quite alarming, considering the the fact that we, who are otherwise so vocal in our life about our life, don’t consider speaking as strongly as we ought to when it comes to issues larger than our life.

    Small effort pays. We must remember that little issues, when not questioned about, becomes bigger with time and then grows out of anybody’s hand to control them. So we must, in order to stop new small issues becoming big, speak when there is time. Even a single voice counts. And each single voice when comes together becomes a roar.

    1. Anshul Tewari

      Thanks, Sadho. I completely agree with your comment. Most of the issues are far from being known to the critical mass because the people who go through it are not given a platform to talk about it.

      Let’s hope we can together build a more vocal generation.

    2. Sadho

      We’ve been vocal, Anshul. But coming to think of it, not in the ideal way. Our voices aren’t focused. We let go off the issues after a while. Our generation likes to follow the “Fast Track philosophy” i.e. move on. We move on in our fight to bring out the common voice of common man. If only we become focused and rigid (in right sense) when voicing out.

    3. Anshul Tewari

      Absolutely true.

  2. Shivangi Singh

    Revolutionary article! Amazing insights!!

    1. Anshul Tewari

      Thank you, Shivangi 🙂

  3. Barryck

    A beautiful insight, a call to action is needed. Why do people’s voices remain unheard is far more because of the education system imposed by the system and not only because of censorship, in my opinion. Censorship is only effective if people are not informed about why, how, what, when to understand an issue. Look at the Jasmine Revolution: People answered and understood the 6 W and the H and they got it all right for themselves. Now let’s unite all, and create actions to better the educational system, workshops all over the places, and why not being ourselves reporters of these unheard people and tell their stories.

    my 2 cents. Barryckr you’re social media Advisor!

    1. Anshul Tewari

      Thank you, @0da345906d1af77618b4f18741619da8:disqus. I can’t agree more with what you said. Fantastically put, this is a problem deeply engraved in our system. We need to tackle the basics and then move upwards 🙂

  4. Astik

    When the voiceless voice themselves so greatly that even their silence becomes deafening, we will know we have achieved our goal.

    This piece is a beginning, join in everyone !

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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