The 2014 General Elections marked a new trend in the political discourse of the country with youth participation increasingly shaping the country’s social, economic, and political narrative. No longer satisfied with the status quo, the young in India are asking questions and raising their collective voices against misgovernance.
In the last four years, the country has witnessed a rise in majoritarianism and authoritarianism. Minorities and vulnerable groups have come out to protest against the inability of the state to safeguard their interests. Furthermore, issues like unemployment, mob-lynching, agrarian distress, declining economy, and rising crimes against women have left the voters sceptical of a viable political alternative. In the run-up to the 2019 general elections, both the ruling party and the opposition have to address these pressing issues looming over our democracy.
Parts XI and XII of the Indian constitution enshrines dual nature of polity by clearly dividing power between the state and the Union. The division of legislative and executive powers among the Centre, states, and Union Territories are distinctly noted in Union lists, State lists, and Concurrent lists.
Despite such elaborative declaration of the federal nature of our democracy, we have largely functioned as a quasi-federal system. The legislative overreach of the Union government has been more apparent under the BJP-led NDA government.
Recent instances of the Union undermining state autonomy include not involving Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in appointing state’s governor, centralisation of economic power by abolishing planning commission, proposal to conduct simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, among many others.
With news debates full of high-pitched rancour, there are few credible platforms left for the public to raise their questions and subsequently make informed choices. This year, to address the gap between leaders and the public, Youth Ki Awaaz and Twitter will hold a political debate with policymakers and political influencers at the Youth Ki Awaaz Summit. At the YKA Summit 2018, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, along with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav and Indian National Congress (INC) spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi will deliberate on the relationship between UTs and states with the Centre.
For the last seven decades, India has largely been a successful working democracy. Barring few hiccups, institutions like the judiciary, RBI, Election Commission, and free press have worked as per the delineated line of operations. However, over the years the onslaught of majoritarianism, neoliberalism, and authoritarianism has undermined the autonomy of these pillars.
Over the past four years, there have been contentions over the credibility of Chief Justices, Centre’s repeated attempts to interfere with judicial appointments, tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), bypassing RBI recommendations in rolling poorly-conceived policies like demonetisation, among many others. These developments have made cracks in our democracy very apparent, pushing the youth to seek accountability from the governors.
Observer Research Foundation (ORF) president Samir Saran, Telangana Rashtra Samithi TRS leader Kalvakuntla Kavitha, INC leader Sachin Pilot, National Spokesperson of Samajwadi Party Ghanshyam Tiwari and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) vice-president Jayant Chaudhary will address the concerns over the status of Indian democracy.
The culture of protest and resistance against the establishment has been at the heart of our socio-political landscape. Be it the 1974 student movement that was led by Jayprakash Narayan in Bihar, or the Maharashtra farmers’ agitation earlier this year, protests have helped in bringing necessary reforms in the country. Throughout history, protests have been essential in making the establishment listen to the demands of the people and make subsequent policies. The 2010 Arab spring is a classic example of how collective actions can bring changes in the society.
In tandem with the significance of culture of protest, Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal, Central Spokesperson of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Kunal Sarangi and Samajwadi Party leader Richa Singh will deliberating on the role of protests in a working democracy.