Perspectives from ISB

Each time the celebration of democracy heralds upon the sovereign skies of India, there is a multitude of currents and countercurrents flowing through the veins of this great nation – and each of these times the youth is invariably at the epicentre of the tremors and tides that sweep it and decide its fate for the next half-decade (or so one hopes).

And yet the upcoming general election is historic in its own right as India proudly bears witness to the highest percentage of its population being constituted by youth. So, what is it that as a member of the fraternity, I expect and look forward to at this crucial the juncture of the Indian story?

Before the elections and leading to it, I expect more than verbal decrees and manifestos which unfortunately are lost under the wraps of political discourse once power is bestowed upon the chosen party and its office bearers.

We as a nation have been continually plagued by propaganda masquerading as goodwill from our elected representatives and to add to the dismay, forgetting what was promised in the wake of sweeping populist measures. So, this year, what I hope to see is not only promises of this party or that reaching out to me through all channels imaginable but also concrete action plans with timelines as to who will do what. This must be effectively coupled with reality and the separation of aspirations from necessities.

Development in healthcare, education, employment, infrastructure, etc. is a necessity, and we do not need assurances but detailed blueprints from each political party as well as independent candidates to tackle the issues that cripple us in these sectors. But this is not enough – intangible elements that secure the societal and cultural fabric of this diverse nation need to be honoured and, in some cases, restored or even bettered. This can only be ushered-in through the development of a scientific temperament while making and enacting decisions and necessarily keeping religious elements separate from the state. Appeasement is a disease, and it needs to be discarded – not propagated.

As for the election itself, it is crucial for the youth, educated or uneducated, to go out and vote or else, I feel, we lose out on the right not only to elect our leaders but also to critique their actions once they assume power. Armchair pundits and ignorant bystanders have never changed the course of history, let alone align with their views. Hence, voting is essential – even if it be NOTA.

It is a gargantuan task to comment on what one expects from the elected representatives and especially the government post elections, as fate and reality take unexpected turns in politics all too often. Nonetheless, there are two aspects on which I believe the incoming government must emphasise – curbing cyberbullying and enhance ease of doing business. The former is a must in these times of unprecedented online activity with the laws being awfully ill-equipped in identifying and punishing offenders. The latter, although on a positive trend in the past few years, has a plethora of summits to scale before the full potential of this country is utilised.

In addition to the above two, I sincerely want the government to steer clear of controversial measures as regards what people eat or the kind of content that is deemed fit/unfit for the ‘Indian audience’ when it comes to censorship of arts and entertainment. These might seem negligible in the larger scheme of things but are essential elements to a person’s individual freedom. Force-feeding patriotism to the population to the extent that this ‘sacred’ attribute has to undergo scrutiny and even criticism should be avoided.

The India story is one of steely determination and assertive progress. And as we reminisce Swami Vivekananda on his birthday by dedicating it to the youth of this nation, we should remember the emphasis the great man laid on the nature and necessities of disagreement amongst a people and how amidst all sorts of division, India has stood and will stand the tests of time as a nation built around humane principles. The leaders we elect represent our tremendous faith that we have in the system that we have built for ourselves, the Constitution that guides each one of us to rise and shine, the evergreen attitude of living and letting live and the indomitable spirit to quash all negativities to arise and awake time and again until the goal is reached. Hence, it is their sacred obligation to deliver on what they have promised and our sacred duty to remind them continually, to achieve constructive outcomes for the people and the land.

And the youth is indeed watching. #NationalYouthDay

– Syed Shakeel Imdad, PGP 2019