Lack of youth representation in policy and governance raised as area of concern
Hyderabad, 19 Feb 2021: Kautilya School of Public Policy, Hyderabad, affiliated to GITAM (deemed to be university) hosted a high-profile webinar titled ‘Can the youth shake up politics and policy in India’. The session dovetailed into the current scenario of the state and how the youth are voicing their opinions and being at the forefront to make a change.
The webinar allowed for academic discourse on a multitude of topics while majorly discussing the youth, policies and politics of India. Issues of privatization, farm bills and the government’s way of expressing themselves at the grassroot level were brought to the table. A dire need of educational institutes that specifically cater to policy making which not only compete with Ivy leagues outside the country but churn young minds into leaders of tomorrow was called for.
Multiple speakers were quizzed on resolving the current inhospitable state of Indian politics with regards to youth participation, and the panelists had their unique takes on possible solutions. Another topic of much discussion was the responsibilities major parties have to overturn the acute lack of youth representation in higher levels of government. All in all, this webinar helped discuss the very crux of what a democracy like India is facing and what needs to be done.
The session was moderated by Nidhi Razdan, senior journalist and former executive editor, NDTV and the panelists included Swara Bhaskar, Actor; Jaiveer Shergill, National Spokesperson, Indian National Congress; Ghanshyam Tiwari, Founder PIIndia.org Covid-19 National Action Group & Member, Samajwadi Party; Shazia Ilmi, BJP Spokesperson and Shubhrastha, Political Campaign & Communication Specialist, Writer and Columnist.The panel also consisted of the founding members of Kautilya School of Public Policy M Sri Bharat, President, Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (GITAM) and Prateek Kanwal, Co-Founder.
Swara Bhaskar, Actor, on the issue of young voices engaging in political movements stated that “The youth in India is not a homogenous but a large entity. It is ridden with class, caste, regional divides. We have seen the youth in this country already shape politics. In 2014, the big reason for the Govt. coming to power was the number of votes they got from the youth. So, the youth is a shifting category. What unites the youth in this country today is technology and access to technology. The youth are constantly engaging and responding to policy and that cannot be ignored.”
Shazia Ilmi, spokesperson of the BJP, on the issue of criminalizing protest and the impact it has on the youth stated that “It depends on who you’re talking to and the side you’re on. For the people who have just turned 18 or just entered politics, they need to Google and would find many cases of police atrocities and State repression done by previous regimes. I believe that as it did not stop me from joining politics, it should not for others.”
Subhrashtra, Political Campaign and Communications Specialist and Writer, on parental control over children in India during protests stressed “The very idea of youth activism is to constantly negotiate with the state and various apparatuses to build our own spaces. Back in the days, it was a very prolonged struggle where people fought for their values and was not driven by electoral politics, but now there are no specifics that youngsters are talking about.”
Ghanshyam Tiwari, Founder PIIndia.org Covid-19 National Action Group & Member, Samajwadi Party, on how we can build upon the changing, positive attitude of the current crop of youth interested in policy-making to create something constructive and substantial: “The right way to start in politics is not by aligning yourself with a political party, but by thinking about your public mission: what you want to do for is for your community at large. It could be a virtual community, a cause, or a physical one, relating to your town/village. Whatever the case, build a public narrative based on that mission: that will be the foundation of your identity”
Jaiveer Shergill, National Spokesperson, Indian National Congress, on how the initiation process can be incentivized so that more and “good” youth join politics: “With the highly negative light that politics has been painted in, overcoming this stigma would require a defined structure that provide for greater acceptance of up-and-coming policy makers. The opportunities are still there, but the problem is that people need to arm-twist the current structure to have a chance.”
M Sri Bharat, President, GITAM, on how more youth can be involved in politics in terms of representation in office/ parliaments: “From the parties’ perspective, this serves as an interesting dichotomy: the organizations feel that good youngsters can’t be found and this is probably because there is no solid pipeline for such talents to traverse all the way from student politics to here. On the flipside, there are so many young people who just do not find enough avenues, and their future paths are very opaque. This is a gap that Kautilya School of Public Policy seeks to bridge by connecting political parties or policy think tanks with talents who are committed to making a difference.”
Prateek Kanwal, Co-founder, Kautilya School of Public Policy, on the idea of young minds actively making a career out of politics and policy opined, “Every time we ask about policy making, schools would limit themselves with econometrics and some form of political theory. We have not moved beyond what the Western democracies are doing. We have failed at delivering horses for courses and have been playing the ageist mindset. We have been plagued with the mindset of running the show with the bureaucracy. It is not an ideal situation if a UIDAI be run by a bureaucrat with no pertinent experience”.
To watch the full webinar, please click here