Thursday, March 8, 2012

Youth in Indian Politics

Way back in 2004 I wrote a post on my now-defunct blog Vivify about how I was not opposed to a little bit of nepotism in Indian Politics, because the advent of young blood into the arena would surely do the country some good.

After the astounding victory of the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh on March 06, 2012 being credited solely to the dynamic four-time Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's 38 year old son, Akhilesh Yadav, I feel like Nostradamus...(except for our obvious age difference!)

No, seriously, barring the biggest exception of 'em all Rahul Gandhi (who I may add did work very hard in UP - but clearly failed to create any impact; despite hogging ALL the media attention with his dine-in's, run in's and what not, while Akhilesh got small mentions for his bicycle yatra), who is highly misguided and has fallen into the same trap as his grandmother (being surrounded by a coterie that ill-advises if and when it does), the other young guns have done quite well. 

I am all for young blood in Indian politics. In a democracy that is 65 years old, the average age of our 'active' politicians hovers way above that mark and it IS time to change that! 

To the list of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Omar Abdullah (who hasn't done very well as the CM of J & K, but who still qualifies to be on this list!), Milind Deora, Sachin Pilot, Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Madhu Goud, it would be prudent to add Priya Dutt (daughter of Sunil Dutt), Supriya Sule (daughter of the formidable Maharashtra baron - Sharad Pawar) and Agatha Sangma (daughter of ex-Lok Sabha speaker, P A Sangma) as the rising prodigies.

May their tribe grow, and in 2014 when I go to cast my vote I would want to choose a 30 or 40 something to lead my constituency with the vision and boldness that only comes with youth.

Meanwhile, this is what I'd written way back then...

Catch 'em young
Much is being made about the foray of “young blood” into the Indian political arena this Lok Sabha season. The “routinely” responsible media of the Nation has gone crazy trail blazing these young political wannabes, making predictions, coming up with eager opinion polls, predicting, interviewing and the works…in short, making celebrities of them. I think it is indeed a step in the right direction, not the media’s glare on them, but the augmentation of such new entrants. Why?


1.India needs “young blood”; translated into normal parlance means, youthful, energetic fervor, young men and women with enthusiasm, commitment, vision, passion, zeal and a spirit for adventure, for dynamism, with the ability to bring our country to the new world order.

2.I think that in a country where “politics” is considered a taboo career option for the youth, where the term “politician” is equated with one-upmanship, treacherousness, and political ambition with slyness, dirty dealings…it is very heartening to know that these young men have decided to take on the baton. Yeah, even Rahul Gandhi ;-| ….who I might add, was always projected as the reluctant warrior. His coming of age may coincide with the desperate hanging on of the Congress Party to the Gandhi name, yet, this time, he does come across as happy in his new shoes.

3.Maybe this baton is being pompously passed on from one generation to another. Maybe these future political honchos have, in fact been carefully groomed to take over the reins one day (as if it were the family business). Maybe it is nothing but nepotism and partisanship. But would it be possible for a young man or woman, hailing from an average (read undistinguished) family, to bear the cost of contesting the Lok Sabha elections as they are contested today? Would they have the opportunity to grow into ‘leaders’ or get noticed as ‘party workers’? Would the average gentry (read voting junta) trust these youngsters? I agree that it sounds like a pathetic argument, but given the benefit of their ancestry, the years of collective political wisdom and experience in their families, acceptability and in a way, contest-ability will come easy for them.

4.The brighter side is also that it will take them at least 15-20 years of political hobnobbing, or more, to learn the games, tricks, shrewdness and wickedness that politics brings in its wake. Until then, these, our chosen representatives will actually have done our country some good! And by that time, a new generation of political wannabes will be ready to take over.

We need a young political force. On behalf of Gen Y2K, I do firmly believe that we are more motivated, we work harder (at least as much as we party or more), we are more focussed, more tech savvy, more aware of our duties and responsibilities as citizens and less inclined to corruption and deceit than the generation before us.

Don’t mean to offend you mom and dad…but it is a fact all thanks to the glorious media revolution of the 21st century.

So, why should we get stuck with 60+…”experienced, seasoned” politicians? Isn’t it time that the young be given a fair chance? 

In the ideal world, all youngsters would be given a fair chance, irrespective of their gentry, ancestry, caste, creed, SEX (no girls contesting...except for Mehbooba Mufti Mohammed, but would she qualify as "young?").... But then we would have to call that world Utopia, right? In this real world, this is as real and fair as it gets.

I say three cheers for all of them, Scindias, Abdullahs, Pilots, Deoras and Gandhis.
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