The Role of Youth in Politics

Saahil Acharya

Is our political system really democratic? What kind of democracy is this, when a majority of population below 40 elects a majority of people above 60 to power? Are we really satisfied with the way our country is being governed? Should it not bother us that at the age people generally retire, our politicians actually become eligible to be at the helm of affairs? Why is it that people below 50 years are considered ‘juveniles’ in politics?

The country desperately needs some young leaders who are energetic, enthusiastic, morally sound and diligent. There is no doubt that our country has progressed a great deal since the time of independence, but I’m sure our development would have proceeded much faster if we had had some young torchbearers to light the way.

There can be two reasons for this deplorable state of Indian politics. One may be that the youth today are not interested in actively participating in the political field. They are content with what they are doing and how the country is being governed. But this reason seems to hold no ground in view of the discontent shown by the country’s youngsters towards the establishment during the protests against reservation and the Jessica Lal murder. The youth of modern India are aware of the problems facing our country and the world at large. Given a chance they would be willing to change the political condition of the country for the better.

The second reason may be that young people are not given opportunities to prove themselves with the excuse that they are not sufficiently experienced to participate actively in the governance of the country. Almost all the major political parties seem to be functioning under the monopoly of old leaders. Old people should realize that they must make way for younger people to take control of the activities.

There are a few things, which need to be clarified. Firstly, by ‘youngsters’, I do not mean people who are 20 years old with no political experience at all. Youth in this context is meant to refer to people in their 30’s or early 40’s who have a good mix of energy and experience. Secondly, I do not intend to mean that old people should leave the political scene and rest. Of course they should be available for guidance. There should be a retirement age for politicians as well which may be around 65 years. There should also be some educational qualification requisite for politicians. How can we give those illiterates the key to our country to whom we cannot even give the key to our house? People with serious criminal backgrounds should not be allowed to contest elections.

As for the youth of our country, they can contribute in more ways than by just contesting elections. Much can be done in areas like education and raising awareness about various social evils.

I wish that the next time we go to vote we find more names of youngsters among the contestants, who could make our country a better place to live in. I know that the struggle for a better political era, means travelling along uncharted terrain. But the situation demands nothing less. Indeed, it demands the ‘impossible’. One recalls the adjuration of the students of Paris in their May-June uprising of 1968. They had said: ‘be practical! Do the impossible!’ Four decades later, it may be added: ‘If we cannot do the impossible, we better prepare to face the unthinkable.’ Some of the ‘unthinkable’ is already happening around us

Saahil Acharya is a native of Calcutta, and a biology undergrad majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology. He has been an atheist for most of his life, and enjoys occasional scribbling, His politics can, at best, be described as secular liberalism, though he seldom squabbles over the definitions. Irony and literature are the loves of his life.