“Everything comes to us, that belongs to us, if we create the capacity to receive it.” ~Rabindranath Tagore
In a country like India, which boasts of being blessed with a superlative demographic dividend, it comes as a surprise that politics and youth are seldom talked about in the same breath. The palpable disconnect between the youth and politics is perhaps one of the most glaring contradictions engendered in the Indian democracy, which has come to be accepted by the masses with docility.Â However, not everyone likes to stay status quo.
Far away from their motherland, in the hallowed halls of Harvard University, three bright Indian students thought differently. They believed that the youth of India needed a platform to connect them with the polity and thus was born the idea of Swaniti. “We were looking at various channels of entry to politics and found that most often it is those with political connections within or outside the family who have an easy way in”, says Rwitwika Bhattacharya, Founder, Swaniti Initiative. Piloted in the summer of 2009, Swaniti developed as an apolitical organization involving youth with a passion for politics in grassroots governance, by giving them the opportunity to work directly with politicians, transcending party lines and ideologies.
Swaniti is presently guided by a distinguished panel of advisors which includes eminent personalities like Najma Heptulla, Manish Tewari, Sam Pitroda, Ravi Dhariwal and Jayant Sinha and boasts of fellows from premier institutes like IITs and IIMs. The first batch of fellows commenced work in their respective constituencies in the summer of 2012 and worked on four key issues facing Indian polity, namely- Health, Education, Gender and Women, and Infrastructure. “To be in a situation in which you are central to all stakeholders like politicians, local people and social enterprises is an interesting experience and surely one of its kind”, shares Chetan Kanoongo, a BITS Pilani graduate who worked with BJP MP Anurag Thakur in the constituency of Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh.
Swaniti is currently recruiting for its third batch of Fellowships, which is due to commence in the Spring of 2013. The exhaustive selection process is aimed at finding out about the motive and passion of the individual to bring about change and is open to individuals from varied backgrounds to welcome different perspectives of problem solving. Furthermore, working at the bottom of the development pyramid poses an altogether different set of problems vis-a-vis working at the macro-level, demanding something more than the conventional method of problem solving. The Swaniti Fellows are unequivocal in their view that through the opening of avenues to youth, India is all set to witness a paradigm shift in the way politics is perceived among the common people and it won’t be long before they start considering politics as a full-time career option.
Going by their infectious smiles and excited looks, it sure does look like Indian youth are in for the long haul in the political arena.
To know more about Swaniti, log in to www.swaniti.in