Youth and Indian Politics

On a recent flight I found myself sitting next to the NSUI General Secretary – a smart young guy from Jharkhand who has not only managed to rise through the ranks of the Youth/Student wing of Congress, but more importantly, has done so inspite of a non-political family background.

Indian PoliticsI did my best to poke him on the issues which I felt would put any Congress supporter on backfoot – the corruption charges, the pathetic handling or Lok Pal Bill, the fact that party follows a family-leadership etc. To his credit, he tried to defend their stand on Lok Pal, said that the corrupt netas come from a corrupt society and it seems he genuinely believes that “Rahulji” is a true visionary.

I could not agree with most of those responses, but when we started talking about what he and his comrades do on a regular basis, the real story started coming out.

He talked about how RTI camps were being held in universities by NSUI workers – forcing the management to share the expense budgets, disclosing what was bought, from whom etc. And apparently it goes beyond just the treasurer’s role into other areas of the university functioning. I really loved his metric for tracking how well students would welcome such camps. Apparently flyers distributed in campuses are dropped in a few seconds and the ground is left littered with them. His smart way to assessing the interest was to see if flyers were carried by the students or dropped in campus grounds.

I also enquired about how his party uses the cutting edge digital tools & platforms.  After the usual emailing lists etc, he referred to how they had created a Facebook page wherein anyone can upload a video indicating their complaint about say a broken road, overflowing sewers etc and the local NSUI members would help the citizens reach out to the right authorities and close the issue.

I stepped out of the flight feeling happy that smart young folks are choosing to join politics and bringing in their fresh ideas and high energy. I just hope that they do not compromise on their ethics, and that they keep the society and citizens at the core of what they do, rather than just the party and its chosen set of leader(s).

It might be tough for youth leaders like him, to grow in a political system where leaders never seem to retire.  Advani resigns at an age of 85 years and the party still wants him to hold active roles. Shouldn’t he be the chief mentor or something?

Why don’t political parties decide on an age and have that as a mandatory retirement age?

Why don’t our leaders mentor the next lot in a more formal way? Something that allows the young leaders to not only handle growing responsibilities but also learn directly from the senior members.

Why don’t we have a report card of sorts for all candidates from each constituency? So that come election day, citizens can know the individual and vote for his/her work rather than for a party.






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