“When I first came to JNU, I was introduced to a politically charged campus, with its baffling amount of political information and large number of political posters. I saw the teacher-student relationship here, I saw the kind of educational environment that JNU offered and I asked myself why the rest of the people — not fortunate enough to be in JNU — should be bereft of this kind of education. I realized that it is not any kind of institutional mechanism but the students and their activism, their assertion for their rights and their Communist ideology which makes JNU what it is. Hence, I decided to join students’ politics.”- Akbar Chawdhary, President, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union
It is with this understanding today that I insist that youth reservation in policy making should be a part of political manifestos across the globe. Politics, if Churchill were to be believed, is the last resort of the scoundrel and the political situation in India post-independence has left us with little to doubt the British Statesman’s bitter observation. Given that background, I believe it is imperative for the youth of the nation to take an active interest in politics and policy making. The young are blessed with an idealism which one tends to lose with experience and age. Aiming for utopia is a notion still credible to the young. The young are alive in spirit, awash with ideas. They are enthused with the zest for fighting, for rebelling and for bringing about change. It is this dynamism that a nation requires to move forward and therefore amends need to be made in political manifestos to ensure that there is scope for the young to actively participate in decision-making processes of a nation.
An arguable majority of the 1.2 billion people residing in India falls in the age bracket that we categorize as “young”. Statistics point that the median age of our country is around 25 years. This is an enterprising, promising population. Why then should someone else decide our future for us? Why indeed then should there be no scope for our voices to be heard, for our options to be considered, for our choices to be taken into account? This article has been written in a specific context — that of the unManifesto campaign. We have complained enough, cribbed enough. This campaign enables us to move towards a process that is truly democratic and not just democratic in name — it calls the youth of the nation to form their own political manifesto and organizations like UNFPA, Pravah and YKA are at pains to make these ideas available and accessible to the who’s-who of the manifesto-making committees at the zonal, regional and national levels. This sort of participation not only spreads political awareness among the youth but also encourages the young brigade of the nation to inculcate the all-important principle of accountability, so grossly lacking in the elected representatives of this nation. Creating an unManifesto and then submitting it as a draft to the political leadership of the country is the first step towards something bigger, better. It is the first step towards creating a social and political ethos that learns to take the youth of a nation seriously. The young people are the Today of the world and their essential vitality can go a long way in creating brighter Tomorrows.
Pointing to the support that the youth extended to Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh, my former batchmate, Tanisha, currently an intern with the Hindustan Times, Kolkata, asserts that “young people are the future of the country”. There should therefore necessarily be a system that encourages, enables and ensures that young people can become a part of the policy making body of a State. And as Kristina, a young student from Wisconsin, who is now pursuing her Masters in Linguistics from Delhi, suggests very practically — “the young people together form a very large voting bank” and it is about time that the political parties of India stopped undermining that force. When young people band together, they are a voice, strong and powerful enough to be paid heed to.