By Riya Rana:
Name any 10 political leaders. Did a bevy of names strike your mind? Now how many of them would you classify as young (within the age bracket of 18-35)? Even though some names might come up, you can see that they are not famous or known, i.e. mostly they are not in the centre of politics. None of them is in a position of ‘great power’ or ‘influence’. Talking about numbers, the average age of our politicians is 64, while 65%of Indians are under the age of 35, the average age of an Indian being 25. Such huge disparities can’t be missed. It’s an irony that on one hand we take pride in being a young democracy, but we haven’t yet used it to our benefit. We have entrepreneurs, scientists, businessmen, but young leadership in the political arena has been abysmal.
Ask any average Indian if he would want to be involved in running the country. One can imagine them vehemently nodding their heads, indicating a clear no. However if you ask one about the country’s present state or the government, you can definitely expect a list of complaints, negative opinions- ever increasing with time, sprinkled with a few positive views. Such is the political apathy.
Being a politician isn’t desired by many. Corrupt politicians have made us sceptical. Our generation grew up reading about scams and fraud. We have seen humongous amounts of money being transferred to Swiss accounts- the money which could have provided us a better life and opportunities. We have seen our parents criticising the government, our grandparents talking about the righteous freedom fighters. With each scam that hit the nation, we made our little peace with it, because being angry didn’t lead to anything. Majorly, we have become indifferent to it.
Even those who are interested realize that the stakes are too high. Probability of success is too low. The youth is impatient. Waiting 30-40 years to get to the top position, that too at a high possibility of being ousted by someone else doesn’t seem like a smart choice. We have been conditioned to always choose the safer path, career, life. There is too much manipulation, people-pleasing, risks involved. Also if you don’t belong to a political dynasty it’s pretty impossible to break in. Most politicians choose someone of their kith and kin as ‘descendants’.
There is a dearth of role models to inspire the youth- A role model who is in a prominent position, being relatively young, without family connections. Rahul Gandhi can’t be considered as one, given that his success was largely in part due to his dynasty. Moreover his critics are equal in number to his supporters.
It is rightly said that with old age, comes wisdom and experience, necessary to run a country. However this leads to a divide between majority of the population and those forming the policies. Most of the senior politicians have age old views. They are not incompetent fools, but there is a reason why the concept of retirement after a certain age exists. Involving the youth would breathe fresh air into our democracy, in strong need of a change. Young people are more bold, risk-taking and open to new things and views. After all, who can better represent the aspirations of the younger generation of India, better than the leaders who themselves are young?
With growth in technology and increasing use of social media, our people have been actively speaking their thoughts regarding the political scenario on various platforms. The youth doesn’t hesitate in doing so and have become e-activists of sorts. Protests against wrong-doings of the government have seen a steady rise in the number of young people, braving the cold, lathi charges and what not. We also have young MPs, albeit less in number. Probably it’s a silver lining in the dark clouds. Compared to the past, this might be an accomplishment. However, it’s not enough. We need equilibrium, where the youth will have the reins in politics, guided and not threatened by their seniors.