Nyay Vs. Josh: This Is What The Country’s Leaders Think Of The Youth

Chances are you’ve been reading everywhere how this is an important election – where 900 million voters are expected to decide whether their daily life is governed by a group of people who have previously redefined the meaning of complacency or a group of people of whom the highest level of intellect has no qualms in engaging in hate speech.

Regardless of the wide gap that exists between what these two national level parties represent, there is one thing that is common. Their aggressive approach towards what seems to be getting the youth to listen to them.

Fun fact: no one seemed to care about the fact that the young people of the country have seen inadequacy and arbitrariness so intense recently, that everything reaching a crescendo (2014 onwards) surprised no one. Especially the kids who got beaten up for wanting to expand their horizons, the students who were basically reprimanded for asking to be taught or the scholars who were unwillingly thrust into the limelight and forced to defend the right to free speech for millions while being labelled as traitors.

But come 2019, and suddenly everyone within a 10 kilometre radius of India Gate empathises with India’s youth. So much so, that we can now call our leaders by their first names!

To convince us that they really do understand exactly who we are and what we stand for, there have been two very telling videos released. I can only speculate that Gully Boy may have been propaganda after all, as it seems to have birthed an obsession with below average bars about social issues. The actual underground hip-hop and rap subculture has now been completely co-opted by the political mainstream and passed off as Totally Original.

Here’s the Congress. Credit where it is due: they kind of got it right. We are unemployed, unemployable, and upset about names changing. There’s also been an immense amount of injustice on several levels.

Though the representation in the video could have been far more encompassing, it doesn’t do a shoddy job. It targets the voter as an individual and has the oft-repeated stance of “the current government did this terrible thing, so vote for us.”

And then, there’s the BJP. I actually don’t know where to begin.

It’s safe to say that this is nothing less than a three minute four second assault on my aesthetic, political and musical senses. As a young Indian who plans to vote this year (and listens to rap), I was too taken up to notice the propaganda in it the first time I saw it.

But now that I have had the ill luck of watching it multiple times, let me break it down for you. I refuse to suffer alone.

First off, what is with the incredibly tasteless colour scheme? India is a country of colours, yes, but surely we can do better than offsetting pastel walls with bright red and yellow? I suppose I shouldn’t be too picky though. The entire colour scheme of this video could have been in shades of orange, but I’m (somewhat) grateful that it’s not.

Secondly, representation. The video showcases a group of young Indians who would typically be found in an urban setting. As of 2011, close to 69% Indians live in rural areas. Interesting how not one from this 69% qualified to be included in the target audience.

But, there are farmers in the video. I mean, a Sikh man holding a farming tool when he’s not dancing. I’m confused, are Indian farmers limited to Punjab in a tracksuit? Moreover, what cheek to address the grievances of 118.7 million people with just one line!

There’s also token representation of the neglected northeast. The only thing the BJP has managed to rave about with regards to the northeast has been the NRC. It’s created more trouble than peace. Tiny sunglasses may be a trend, but they’re badly sized for hiding lies.

And then we come to the minimised representation for the sanskaari youth. Just one classical dancer. One. Yes, we’re a rapidly developing society and quick to be influenced by global trends, but I can say with faith that we’re not ashamed of our traditional forms of music and dance. In fact, many storytelling traditions in the subcontinent could well be variants of rap, but I don’t expect the BJP to do research for something as important as an election campaign.

Thirdly, what struck the most was the disturbing message directed towards the first-time voter. That this a government that ‘got everything done’ but without any information as to how they got these things done. Who is keeping a track of these developments, and why is demonetisation not addressed for the lives it ruined and the GST not mentioned at all?

First-time voters in 2019 are concerned with two things: education and jobs. Yet, the video remains far from even uttering words like college and employment. What exactly are young people supposed to vote for, then? A government that advertises an LPG subsidy to specifically keep a woman bound to her household? A government that promotes Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao while their party workers waltz around raping and murdering minor girls? A government that uses media and movies to spread nothing but hate? A government that even in their ad manages to include a gratuitous shots of a woman’s waist (click here and skip to 0:22)?

Lastly, this should be considered a direct insult. It is a representation that lacks depth and exposes just how out of touch the BJP is with the youth (and rap). It shows how unwilling they are to even listen to what young people have to say, and they’ve been demanding an audience for a while now.

While the Congress is focusing on nyay, and associated anyay, the BJP is working hard to maintain a culture of hollow hype. Yelling “how’s the josh?” amounts to nothing. Except people yelling.

It also puts forth a disturbing ultimatum. Either you fit in to exactly the dimensions the ruling government wants you in, or you don’t exist at all. This is the agenda they’ve been brandishing the last five years, and we have allowed them to.

In the words of Kanhaiya Kumar, “is saazish ko aapko samajhna padega.” While the visuals of the video are distracting temporarily, it forces you to face reality – that this government doesn’t actually care about you. They care about your willingness to be fooled. The real test for our democracy, is if we fall victim to our own narratives repeatedly, or rise from the ashes.

Featured image source for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Kyle Taylor/Flickr.

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