How India’s Politicians Misuse the Youth

I wonder if the name Rajiv Goswami rings a bell with anyone today. He was a student in Delhi University and he was the one to endeavour to start a movement against VP Singh’s, the then Prime Minister of India, implementation of Mandal Commission. The question is, how did he attract the attention. He opted for a self-immolation bid. His act triggered a series of other self-immolation bids throughout the country. More recently there have been self- immolation cases in Andhra Pradesh to press for the creation of a Telangana State. And very recently, we came to know of a young girl of 17, who set herself on fire in protest against the arrest of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha.

The statistics show that India is the second largest democracy in the entire world and that our country has the largest population of youth, with 66 per cent of the total population in the country below the age of 35. The baton for social and political reforms is slowly being transferred into the hands of the youth, because Youth is synonymous with change, change for a economically and socially progressive India. It was indeed heartening to see the youth carrying this baton with great vigour and a sense of responsibility in cases like the Nirbhaya tragedy or the Lokpal Bill.

Recently in Jadavpur university, in Kolkata, the youth stood up against the VC, Abhijit Chakraborty, for his inaction towards a molestation case.

Why the youth should self-immolate

In the past, unfortunately, politics in India has been marred by corruption, and politicians have taken advantage of the gullible population and garnered votes on social platforms of caste, creed and religion. However, with economic liberalisation, and in this day and age of Information and Technology, a new breed of the population is coming in the fore front, to remove these opportunistic politicians, and to guide India to a bright future.

However, even in this day of information and social media, when one reads about the youth taking the extreme step of self-immolation, one cannot help but wonder why. There are two possibilities for such a step. The first being that, a strong stand on the issues at hand leads the youth to choose death for a better future for India.

If this be the case, then Shaheed Bhagat Singh does come to mind, who laid down his life for the independence of the nation. But the other possibility is quite stark and devoid of any emotion of patriotism. It is the blind Hero Worship of the youth which leads them to take the extreme step of self-immolation in many cases. Unfortunately, there is a great possibility that the youth is totally unaware of the issues at hand.

Yes, today is the day for literacy and information. But literacy and information do not necessarily mean Knowledge.Knowledge here would mean the ability to differentiate between Right and Wrong. The youth is like wet clay ready to be moulded, and in many cases the politicians take advantage of this situation and mould the clay to suit their requirements.

Brain washing and coercion are also common place occurrences, where the politician takes advantage of the gullible innocence and ignorance of the youth.  How else can one explain a 17-year old immolating herself in Madurai because Jayalalitha was arrested in a disproportionate assets case. 17 is an adolescent age. An age where the world is supposed to seem wondrous.  An age to get depressed about failed love, and not about a chief minister getting arrested. It is very hard to believe that such a young soul has already such strong affinity to the political world.

Misusing the gullible youth

Yes, the political scenario is changing. The youth of India is coming forward to take the responsibility of the nation. Be it as a legacy from their parents or at the grass-roots levels, in colleges. However, the youth in their ignorance, and in many cases in their lack of knowledge, can also be a live bomb in the hands of the veteran politicians, ready to be detonated at their own convenience.

The question that comes to mind is, how can the misuse of the gullibility of the youth be stopped. How can the resource of youth power be tapped to its best possible extent and utilised in a significant and positive manner for the betterment of India. Well, the knowledgeable youth have an added responsibility today, to educate the ignorant lot of the issues at hand. It is time for the youth to help themselves be a stronger force to reckon with, whose collective power cannot be misused by the more conniving politicians. It is indeed time for the future to participate in the present and make significant contributions without having to resort to extreme measures such as Self Immolation.

At this juncture, Mahatma Gandhi does come to mind. His words “Be the change you wish to see in the world”  rings true. Bapu believed that violent feelings provoke conflicts which grow in strength and threaten the very society it was initially supposed to protect. The youth, the millennial, the future should understand this and act in a more mature manner and take India into that bright horizon.