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The Young Activists

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However, the recent 2014 General Elections brought out a much larger picture. India stepped into a new era with the commencement of the ‘Modi Sarkar’ and the country witnessed an event that was never recorded in the history of the nation. Our country beat the record of 64% voters in 1984 to a whopping 66% in 2014. Seeing this, we’d wonder, how could this ever happen? It’s time maybe to relook and understand the power of the youth of our country, today breaking away from its stereotypes, more than ever. The 2014 General Elections saw the participation of the youth in a way that was unheard of in the country. This unprecedented statistic proves that there is much more to the Indian youth than that meets the eye. It clearly proves that the youth of today are far more aware and conscious of what is happening around them than any of their previous generations. It paved a way for a more dynamic era, where the youth isn’t just a mere witness to the state machinery, but an important part of the country’s governance, where every voice matters. It clearly indicates the rising voice of a new generation. It is the mark of a new revolution and a new identity. It is the mark of change. Just like an inspiring Hollywood or Bollywood movie, the youth took matters in their own hands, to do away with the old and the conventional. No more were they silent witnesses and puppets who walk, talk and do as told. The youth of today believe in action and not words. India is a country which consists of people majorly falling in the age group of 18-45 and finally we can feel the vibrant energy of a nation rising in the air. The youth of today are strong and hungry for change. It is not like bad things don’t happen anymore. In fact, there is something or the other even more unnatural than the other, every second day. However, every time, there is an untoward incident, we see passion, anger and reactions. Be it from arm chairs or significant venues like India Gate in Delhi or MG Marg in Gangtok, there is a voice that condemns what goes wrong. The youth of North East are raising their voices louder and clearer than ever as well. Right here in Sikkim too, the state saw a protest unlike any other. What began as a small protest against fees’ hike, by the students of the Government college in the state’s capital, turned much bigger when the students were lathi-charged. ‘We want justice’ were the words that echoed throughout the capital, after that. Goes to prove that the young know their rights and are aware that the powerful too, have limits. After the horrific death of Nido Tania in the capital, 73 thousand people, on Facebook alone joined the page ‘Justice for Nido Tania’ making clear that there are more and more people who are against such racial attacks. Young artists too who express social and political griedances now get themselves heard through mediums like YouTube. And when the youth agree with these creative forms of activism, it spreads through Facebook and WhatsApp, most of the time. Borkung Hrangkhawl is an example. TNT (The Northeast Today), a Shillong-based magazine reported that his single ‘The Roots’ (Chini Haa), a song that talked about the socio-political situation in Tripura, garnered over 1,00,000 hits in less than two weeks. With the advent of technology and internet reaching even the farthest corners of the country, we have seen that people are not shying away from speaking out their minds. The rise of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp has given the youth of today the power to start their own campaigns. It also gives the youth a platform to support their cause. No longer does the youth discuss only jokes, entertainment and sports and films on Twitter and Facebook. They also write about graver and important issues such as politics, education, community and corruption. The social media fuels the power of the youth. Gone are the days when information was only top down. Now, information comes from people, as it happens. This gigantic development has even caught the attention of everyone who now need to consider what is being discussed in the social media front, to spare themselves from being exposed by the youth and their most powerful weapon – the social media. Be it a financial scam, a rape case or other unpleasant incidents, we have seen the youth actively participate in making things right, even if it brought them to the streets. We have seen the youth rise against corruption. We have seen the youth fight for justice against rapists, demanding punishment and action, we have seen the youth taking matters in their own hands to change the destiny of the nation. The preconceived notion of the youth’s incapability to participate in the nation’s order on the basis of lack of experience is being questioned now. Even, in the past, Gandhi – our nation’s pride – had wanted the youth to be a part of the team which led to Nehru joining in and taking charge of things, but, after that there was minimal involvement of these very fresh minds in the decision-making process about their own future. Reservations were the only pathway then. Few of the biggest activists in our country come from the Northeast. At the age of seventeen, Hasina Kharbih from Shillong had the drive in her to pursue her own path. This began with the leadership training she underwent in school. However, with the pressure of academics, many of the youth she began her work with, slowly phased out. But Hasina, she grew more confident in her vision of a North-East free from child exploitation and trafficking (Source: http://india.ashoka.org/hasina-kharbhih-youth-activistsocial-entrepreneur). Today Hasina is a social activist stronger than ever with her cause, truly an activist who began really young. Our country holds one of the largest populations of youth in the world, a major plus point for us. It has the potential to turn the title of the nation from a developing country to a developed nation. Due to their intimate kinship with problems like unemployment and financial instability, they are more focused on ideas about sustenance which are cost effective and longer lasting. But this does not indicate that the youth does not want the older minds at work. It’s just that their interest has grown several folds in the past few years over the nation’s working process. Now, they do not want to underplay, rather they want to come to the forefront under the guidance of the experienced lot without much trouble from the termites like corruption and crime. Also, the global village is becoming smaller day by day. Exchange of new ideas and methods is prompting newer ways of kick starting things which were previously dormant. The radical events happening around the world has changed the way the youth of our nation think and act. With the internet becoming one of the fastest and most interactive media of communication, dynamic ideas have become widespread. Today, news travels faster on Facebook and Twitter than any conventional news channel. Today, they have the power to start their own campaign against things they strongly feel about and turn it into a revolution of their own. We have seen independent youth groups and campaigns in support of Saving the Tigers, in support of Anna Hazaare’s fight against corruption and so on with thousands of others actively participating and discussing the issue at hand. The rise and easy availability of technological gadgets such as HD camera phones, DSLR cameras, etc., have also played a major role in taking the youth activism in the country to a much larger scale than expected. It is indeed quite pleasing to see that even students of seventh or eighth standard discuss elections and current affairs during their breaks in school. Gone are the days when the only way to know about what was happening was the general knowledge book or the news programmes on television. This technological boom has helped people document events and happenings around the country and spread them through social media and word of mouth. It is indeed a true fact that in recent times the conventional media such as newspapers and television has taken a back seat and is usually popular with the senior segment of the population. We might not see every young person show interest in reading a newspaper in the morning or watching the evening news programme, but this does not mean that they are less aware. The youth of today are a dynamic and energetic breed that wants to break away from control and dictatorship. The one medium of communication of the past has paved way for a more dynamic media such as the internet. This paradigm shift of interest shows that the youth of today does not like being silent about the things that matter. It has always been a fact that the face of a nation changes for the good when the youth takes charge of things. It was a young Che Guevara who led an entire revolution till its conclusion, it was a young Bhagat Singh who took matters in his own hands against the British empire in India and led an entire youth movement. Also recently it was the youth and their social media weapon that took all the movements to a much greater scale than was expected. Be it the Anna Hazaare led movement against corruption, or be it the Delhi gang rape case. The youth of our country has finally risen and we can see the results. Few years ago, we could see that every young student wanted to be an engineer, a doctor or an MBA. Today, however we can evidently see the rising interest of the youth towards politics and other fields. Be it Delhi or Mumbai, or even closer home in the North East, we can see the youth actively joining politics, starting up NGO and working towards their passion and cause, across various fields of public and social interest. The youth is balanced today. Materialistic pleasures cannot take them away from their roots and ideologies. The older generation has strong opinions on today’s youth and their attitude. However, the young today continue to question. Gone are the days when they blindly follow a leader. Or obey authority. This increasing interest of our youth should also be given credit for the triumph of the Narendra Modi led BJP government. With the conclusion of the recent general elections and the defeat of the ruling party, we have seen the volcano erupt that was building in the minds of the people in the country. This election has also witnessed the maximum number of first time voters and shown people what happens when the youth takes control. This was the first time ever when the youth bore the mark of voting on their fingers with pride and flaunted their selfies outside the polling booth across all social media. Though the elderly and the conventional thinking generation might brush off these youthful actions by saying that today’s youth is all about showing rather than taking real responsibilities, yet the same actions could be the insignia of a rising generation and a new revolution to come. Indeed, 2014 has brought a new wind of change with it and we can all proudly say “Viva La Revolution”.

(The author is a Shillong-based television journalist for News Live g24#7)

SOURCEAshoka India
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