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India Is A Young Country But What About Its Political Leaders?

A nation takes birth when its citizens agree on its existence and unite as a single entity to work mutually and build prosperity. Since time immemorial, the essence of Indian philosophy has been that of inclusiveness – free thought is encouraged to take place whether it is against the mainstream or questioning the existing belief systems of the masses.

The vision of taking our nation to new heights is consensual, be it a conservative nationalist or a liberal with a cosmopolitan view. However, the problem that exists is of believing that only one ideology can be fruitful and the other should be suppressed and eradicated.

A nation takes birth when its citizens agree on its existence and unite as a single entity to work mutually and build prosperity.

Truth is always multifaceted and there are numerous ways to reach it.

The radicalisation of our youths is taking our nation backwards, annihilating the true Indian Identity instead of building it. Divisions are of unending sorts in our country. This categorical ramshackle makes the individual think of his faction before the country. Why is a person taught this categorical segregation first and then, when he learns, they are later taught about the nation as their birthland?

It’s not a question about identities but the belief system that influences what the person believes in. A nation is built on principles and on those principles, the nation moves forward. To give this argument sufficient proof and something more than a discussion of ethos, the Kaizen principle followed by the Japanese is a prime example that resulted in their revolution.

To build this nation towards glory, there is a need for reforms in our society as well as our economy. But the question that arises is: what is meant by nation-building? Collins Dictionary states,

“Nation-building refers to the government policies that are designed to create a strong sense of national identity.”

Different people have different interpretations of the word nation-building. Even though they have diverse interpretations, they have the same intent of building the nation. The diverse interpretations include good governance, joining the army, economic and financial prosperity of the middle and lower classes, cultural upliftment, industrial development, politics with grass-roots participation, better education and  an increased standard of living.

But many times, these different categorical interpretations result in conflicts and hamper the process of nation-building. Thus, the need of the hour for the nation is to focus on all these aspects to build the nation, with the youth playing a significant role.

Two of the most important elements of good governance are equity and inclusiveness. In India, there is representation from all sections of the society but one representation that lack miserably in our government is that of the youth. Even the Ministry of Youth Affairs, which was formed for the welfare of the youth, has the youngest person to chair it at the age of 46 years and the oldest at 76 years of age.

India is a young country but its leaders are not.

For the last 20 years, the average age of a Member of Parliament (MP) has been 50 and it’s continuously rising. The minimum age to contest the Lok Sabha elections is 25 years. This implies that half of the youth population is not eligible to contest the national elections. In contrast, at the age of 21, a person becomes eligible to become an Indian Administrative Officer (IAS) officer, i.e. the person with the most power in a district bureaucratically.

Similarly, at the age of 17 and a half, one can join the Indian Navy and the Armed Forces, and at 17, one can join the Air Force. So, in a way, at 18 years of age, you are old enough to fight for your nation and represent the nation at international borders, but not old enough to represent the youth and participate in decision-making in the Parliament.

India is a young country but its leaders are not.

If colleges can create engineers and doctors, then why not leaders? The youth who do not get a chance to connect to the political system in any way get a chance to become leaders when they enter the collegial system of politics. They get an opportunity to represent themselves, govern a body at a micro level, and form their own policies and strategies for prosperity. It gives them a political conscience, an idea of the working of democracy, and shapes them for future positions.

But the candidacy age of 25 creates a three-year gap for them to contest the elections. However, if the candidacy age gets reduced to 21 or 18, even these collegiate leaders would be able to take support from their vote base and constituencies they are contesting from. The nations we consider as developed have higher median ages in terms of population, but the age of candidacy is lower. The age of candidacy is 18 in Germany, Australia and the UK.

Even developing nations such as Brazil have a candidacy age of 18. The same demographic has been governing India for 70 years and the greatest resource of our country remains underutilised and underrepresented. The solution to this problem of underrepresentation is two-way: the first being the stigma of entering politics and the other being the reformation of the legal framework that restricts the age of candidacy to 25.

There is a lack of awareness about the prevailing ageism, so the foremost role the youth has is to make this issue known to every other youth.

There is a lack of awareness about the prevailing ageism, so the foremost role the youth has is to make this issue known to every other youth and the young leaders representing them. The youth should demand equality and the opportunity to represent themselves. If students and young professionals ask for the age bar to be lowered, and a reasonably young politician raises this issue in the Parliament, there can be a possible amendment to the Representation of the People Act and pave the way for the youth to turn the nation around.

So, if awareness is created at all levels, it will create a domino effect and necessary changes will take place. If the representation of the youth changes significantly in the coming future, the youth who gets the right to vote at 18 years of age will be able to play an even more significant role in the elections.

They won’t only be participating in selecting their leaders but they themselves would be able to become leaders. The needs and desires will be voiced in the Parliament and the youth would be building a nation for the future of the country. Young minds with the intellect and experience of elder leaders can shape the best future of India.

The initiative to make these obstacles a thing of the past must be driven by the youth itself. The new ideal citizens and dynamic youngsters neither lack the motivation nor awareness to drive the nation. These new citizens must take the initiative and challenge themselves towards nation-building.

As stated by Robert Kennedy, “This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.”

About the author: Abhimanyu Singh can be reached at abhimanyusingh.info@gmail.com

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