Indian Youth: The Deterrence of the Past?


It is an underestimation to think that India’s population is a curative figure contributing to global statistics. Hosting a country that has an estimated 1.3 billion people and counting has always been a historic feat for India but has proven to be much more of a burdened task to handle as the political climate has degenerated. The nation is in a chaotic transition, one that is not entirely documented to be a welcome state of affairs. 

But 2020 has already proven to be a spectacular display of civil society activism, especially moving from institutional curtail to freedom of public demonstrations. The culture of resistance has now entranced into ordinary, extra ordinary and most known social spaces where there are movements to disrupt dominant status quos that have turned stifling.

And India can count on its youth to take the lead in being active in their endeavor to master the art of demonstrating the want for change. Following the state supported attacks on the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the city was on a lockdown called for by its students who had gone through the trauma of the event. There were continuous nation-wide protests, rallies and campaigns to defy the violence of state apparatus. And much of the defenders of human rights were young people afraid to be stripped of their dignity and integrity to peace. As communalism soars to bring about the fault lines in Indian democracy, the youth have attested to rising up against the tyranny.   

This poses such an important segment of democratic functionality; the participation of the youth outside electoral and civil duties. Any (theoretical) democracy is backboned by its youth, the integral demographic of productivity, potential and innovation. The future will be inherited by these countless young people who now demand there be social accountability for the foreseeable demise of political freedom in the country. The distinction becomes how they maneuver these spaces to transform entitlement into agency of change.

I had been in Kolkata during the duration of civilian uprising and clash between authority and young people. Might I say, as uncalled police brutality and mob violence have become a societal dividend we inherit from transcendal regimes. Many young Indians in the country and worldwide feel the embarrassment of this hideous regimental transformation of the country. When we have grown up on a healthy dose of self expression and the spirit of comradery, the divisive state of affairs we live in now scares us. And frankly, as an observant citizen, I am frightened of the possible alienation that may befall us if we are to sustain the undemocratic manner in which moral policing has become more apparent than holistic provision of services.

As a young Indian, I am very deliberate on my choices and autonomy. Despite being born in an era where free thought and independent ability is a norm, many of us still have to bear the cost of limiting our conscience to menial remedies that have no real impact on communities. We want real change, where social, political and economic freedom is personal and collective funded by our own commitment to a secular state. The point I am trying to make is that we are restless for justice and equality, something we had bargained for right through generations with no avail till present date.

A renaissance is needed, one that uses their youth to be the main vehicle. It is daunting to succeed as a state that closed out its young population. It is also severely damaging to repeatedly attack them on several occasions, to the extent it fades away civil trust in institutions and the government. And India is suffering from a degrading oval of civil trust that might end up in the hands of further damage with no palpable change in the making. Historically, our nation has always had its support pour from young populations and this should not be any different. We are bleeding to sow the seeds of our future in this nation and we are the hope for change.

The demise of democracy in the nation has become worrisome and frightening, we can no longer afford apathy as our political will is ticking away at possible reform. But a strong part of our resistance culture stems from the understanding of our rights and liberties. And tolerance is something that has been traditionally ingrained into us so whatever the current regime boasts of alienates our resting ideologies of equality and cohabitance. The point I am trying to make is that whatever society we as young people inherit come with its fair share of vices that are either irreversible or consolidated to the point of no return.

And it is unfair, to live in a society where we aspire to shift from rigidity but still are under attack for our practice of basic rights. It is burdensome to feel underwhelmed in a country we are expected to serve but are not particular stake holders of in the social contract provided. We want more say, we want more action and we want a better future to look towards.

And what we continue to raise in the capitals of the world is relevant because suppression only results in a dehabilitative mode of living- dropping down to oppression and violence. Have faith in our youth. We are the future!

Sumona Bose is a MPhil candidate in Justice and Transformation at the University of Cape Town. She has an undergraduate studies in Political Studies.