The word ‘ politics ’ seems to be one of the most hated words among the youth of our country. It is with great pride that people declare, “We don’t know anything nor do we care about politics in this country.”
The big question is whether this trend is taking the right direction? You may find many who will defend political ignorance by listing the evils caused by politics such as corruption and disruptions to name a few. But can a largely ‘apolitical’ society take our country forward in the coming decades? Isn’t this against the ideas previous generations fought for?
This article looks into the reasons behind the tendency to be politically ignorant, tries to find solutions and finally argues that a politically conscious society is indeed the heartbeat of any democracy.
The meaning of democracy is not confined to the four walls of the voting room. The essence of a democracy is in understanding, analysing, criticising and reacting to issues. The people who believe that they have nothing to do with politics are not only mistaken but also ignorant.
Everything from the clothes you wear to the lessons you teach your children to the price of the grocery items is a part of politics. But the bigger question here is about the need for being politically conscious while living in a democratic country. The biggest problem of a society that is not politically conscious will be the fact that it can easily be fooled by any sort of propaganda or brainwashing which is done by political outfits from the left, right and centre.
Secondly, it is the moral obligation or duty of the educated higher classes to stand up for the lower class oppressed people. The idea of standing up for someone else shall only rise when someone understands the dimensions of politics involved in the issue.
The rising trend of arguing against strikes and agitations by the middle-class is in itself ironic. It was the series of strikes and agitations over the last century that made life what it is for the middle-class today. It is more fascinating because many young people who are part of the upper-middle-class strata don’t even know about these struggles that made their life what it is, which in itself points at what an apolitical society can lead to.
The understanding of politics has reached such a low point today that on popular social media networks anybody on the left is called out as ‘communist’, while anyone on the right is called a ‘Nazi’ or ‘fascist’. The space for debate and discussion is shrinking due to wrong interpretations or lack of understanding of political ideologies and the lack of democratic political space in itself. This space of debate and discussion is of utmost importance in a country like ours which comes from a Gandhian tradition where a Tagore and Gandhi could agree to disagree. Political activism, ideologies and voices combined are the backbone of a democratic system.
It is essential to understand that a society must be politically educated and engaged in order to make a democracy vibrant and what it is supposed to mean. The growing anger against the establishment has resulted in a huge section of people arguing strongly for a dictatorship! This whole idea in itself is a result of a lack of political consciousness.
On a lighter note, these people claim that the country needs a ‘benevolent dictator’, which is ironic because a benevolent person can never be a dictator. This hunger for a dictatorial system to bring development is a result of lack of decentralisation of power and poor understanding of politics in general. These trends clearly indicate that political consciousness is indeed the heartbeat of a democracy.
The reason many people, especially the youth, stay away from politics is due to the current standard of political discourse in our nation. Another major reason is the belief that politics is something for the ‘netas’ and not for us! It is fascinating that this trend is more prevalent among urban educated youth and urban people.
Now, what are the possible solutions? The most important of all is the inclusion of more political education in our education system and making the students explore the various ideas and ideologies that will help shape their personality. The second and most difficult one will be for our politicians to change and make the system more open and decentralised in nature. There have been positive signs with our PM himself asking for the youth to join politics and people like Shashi Tharoor have always written about the need for people to engage with the political system.
Another possible reason for the lack of political interest is the highly placement oriented college education system. These days, the sole purpose of people going to colleges is to get placements with corporates. Education is shrinking into being a workman producing market instead of places which would develop individuals for the society. This issue needs serious addressing and correcting at the highest level and also at a psychological level for the students and their parents.
In any democratic country, it is essential to have a politically conscious and responsive society. In our country, which has the highest percentage of young people, let us hope a day will come when these bright youngsters shall step out of their selfish growth ambitions and start raising their voice for people who don’t have a voice.
This would finally fill our parliament and Vidhan Sabhas with highly educated, qualified and honest people who shall take this country to greatness! And on that day the souls of Gandhi, Patel, Nehru and Bhagat Singh shall smile at us together.