Having returned to Chicago after spending 6 weeks in Delhi, yesterday I called a young friend of mine who lives in Delhi. I was narrating my experiences of volunteering for Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi that I did in last several weeks. Even though he works and stays in Delhi, he asked me when are the elections in Delhi. I explained that the Delhi assembly elections are due in next 90 days, hardly 3 months away.
This young man is professionally educated, a socially spirited guy, wants to make a career in non-profit sector and in general well-informed. But he also represents the one catch that is typical of Indian youth: total indifference to political action! I was surprised that he does not know that Delhi- the Capital of India- is facing state assembly elections in next 3 months and that the current Chief Minister Sheila Dixit has already started doling out freebies at the expense of state exchequer to cling to power. He does not know that last 15 years have witnessed the governance of Congress Party in Delhi and the living conditions in Delhi have gone from bad to worse. A few years back, he decided to come to Delhi from a small town because he rightly felt that Delhi would provide better opportunities, but clearly never tried to see why Delhi as a city was so sick. Is not the poor governance responsible for the poor health of Delhi?
This dichotomy is a bit perplexing!
The youth today knows and understands the poor infra structure that the country has: poor roads, poor public utility services (educational institutes, hospitals, and so on).
The youth today knows and understands that there is a massive corruption and un-accountability in the government.
The youth today knows and understands that the politicians are not up to par. They are in general corrupt, incompetent and self-centered.
The youth today knows and understands that despite India having a massive pool of talent and wealth, as a country we are poor and not developing at the expected pace.
The youth today knows and understands that many other parts of world provide better quality of life to their citizens.
Yet, the callousness of the youth to politics is appalling. Their hesitation to be politically conscious is a matter of concern. The youth of today knows the ills, knows the diagnosis, yet is unwilling to align for a political engagement to seek solutions.
He/she thinks that the first job is to make a professional career for himself or herself and somehow the ills of country will be taken care by some other guys! (s)he fulfills his societal role by volunteering for an NGO or at religious places, but somehow wishes that some other well-intentioned guys will go to politics and give the citizens a better life. The Indian youth is very find of saying: “I hate politics”!
The youth understands and demands a better India, but shys away from the arena of political engagement and civic engagement. I always feel that unless we align with political action, the less brilliant minds will continue to occupy the political arena and we shall continue to get sub-standard quality of life in India.