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Why Is The Youth Missing From Indian Politics?

Youth And Politics

India is a young country with about 65% of its population under the age of 35, thus making youth the power of our nation. Hence, we call India “Youngistaan.” But what is youth? Youth comprises people who have a clear vision, creative ideas, awareness about the current situations, and an ability to change the world.

India is a representative democracy, which means that the elected MP’s are the reflection of us. Unfortunately, though, this reflection comes with a contradiction with 75% of our MPs over the age of 50. It is as if older people represent the youth of India. This does not mean that one should never elect for older people. While the young are important because of their enthusiasm, these members are essential because of their experience. When we look at today’s politicians, while we do find the likes of Rahul Gandhi, Aditya Thackeray, Rohit Pawar, Pritam Munde, or Rajesh Pilot, the fact remains that they all come from political dynasties.

a group of college students sitting together
Representational image

So, Why Is The Youth Not Visible In Politics?

The question that, then, remains is that why does today’s youth not make it to frontline politics. To understand this problem, let us view some points:

Poverty – A large segment of our society is below poverty, and the current political situation is nothing more than a game of capital.

Crime – It is one of the main reasons for the youth not to want to take part in politics. About 30% of MPs and 31% of MLAs have one or another criminal record. Many of them are charged with serious crimes, and, over time, it changes the people’s view of politics as the occupation of criminals.

General views – Generally, today’s youth is also aware of extensive government efforts to suppress any form of mass agitation, which further discourages them from taking the step.

History Of Youth Politics In India

While talking about youth and politics, we must look at the history of “youth energy.” During the time of the Emergency (1975-1977), the Indian political scene saw the rise of many current political stalwarts like Arun Jaitley, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Prakash Jawadekar, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and many more. JP Narayan had named them as “Yuva Shakti” or the “Youth Power”.

These young leaders carried out many rallies and agitations under the leadership of JP Narayan. And on many occasions, these student agitations were not peaceful. The included setting canteens on fire and destroying public property through stone pelting, but they were never characterised as anti-nationals. Student agitations on a hike in the canteen fees ended with the fall of the Congress government in Gujarat and Bihar.

Conclusion

If we look at some of the agitations in the last decade: Anna’s anti-corruption protests, the Maratha Morchas, multiple protests in universities, and more, the youth are participating in large numbers. But, this is not reflected in their presence on the frontline of political action. To change this situation, we have to elect good literate non-criminal representatives who can enable the government to handle criticism diplomatically.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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