Kashmir desperately needs some young leaders who personify energy, enthusiasm, morality, and diligence. No doubt we have progressed a lot in the last some years but the development pace would have been completely different had some young torchbearers led this process of development.Young people are often excluded or overlooked as political candidates. Politics is typically regarded as a space for politically experienced men, and while women are often disadvantaged in accumulating experience to run for office, young people are systematically marginalized because of their young age, limited opportunities, and projected lack of experience. As the increased political participation of women benefits society as a whole, the presence of young people in decision-making positions benefits all citizens and not just youth.The Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) reports that people between the ages of 20 and 44 make up 57% of the world’s voting age population but only 26% of the world’s Members of Parliament (MPs). Young people under 30 represent 1.9% of the world’s MPs and more than 80% of the world’s upper houses of Parliament have no MPs aged under 30. While young people often play central and catalyzing roles in movements for democracy around the world, they are less engaged than older generations in voting and party activism. Together, these trends have inspired many international organizations to study the lack of youth political participation and train youth activists to become political leaders. In the new democracies of the world, the role of youth is of special importance, and in the world today there are more new than established democracies. Older generations of a society include leaders of the discredited undemocratic regime and many who supported, or at least tolerated it as likely to last their lifetime or because they saw no way of opposing it. By contrast, young politicians are freer of association with excesses of the past, and have often been prominent in demonstrations calling for an end to an undemocratic regime. The way in which a new democratic government develops is of special concern to young people, for it promises to rule their lives for forty years or more — whether it becomes a completely consolidated democracy or remains an imperfect, incomplete democracy. If a new democracy demonstrates continuing weaknesses, idealistic young people may become indifferent or cynical in reaction. Insofar as idealism declines, then this reduces popular pressure for better governance.At the time of Indian independence, Gandhi ji called upon the youth to participate actively in the freedom movement. Young leaders likes Nehru came to his reckoning and led the movement. But this is not the case now. Nowadays we have only a handful of young leaders but they belong to influential political families. It is next to impossible to find a young leader with no political family background in the furor of politics.
There can be two reasons for this deplorable scene of Indian politics. One may be that the youth today are not interested in actively participating in the political field. They are content with what they are doing and how the country is being governed.The youth of modern India are aware of the problems facing our country and the world at large. Given a chance they would be ready to change the political condition of the country for better.Second reason may be that young people are not given opportunities to prove themselves claiming that they are not equipped with experience to participate actively in the governance of the country. This reason seems to be more logical seeing the monopoly of old leaders in almost all the major political parties of the country. Old people should realize that proper development can take place only when they make way for younger people to take control of the activities.There are few things which need to be clarified. One that youngsters do not mean people who are 20 years old with no experience at all. Youth in this context is meant to refer people in their 30’s or early 40’s with a good mix of energy and experience. Two, it is not intended to mean that old people should leave the political scene and rest. What is wanted is that they should be there but for guidance because they are treasures of invaluable experience.
There are a few things which I would like to suggest. There should be a retirement age for politicians as well which may be around 65 years. There should also be some educational qualification for politicians. How can we give those illiterates the key to our country whom we can not give the key to our house? People with serious criminal background should not be allowed to contest elections.Young adults can be seen as having distinctive political interests, more inclined to change than older generations, more idealistic in their goals and less loyal to established traditions. In economic terms, young people are specially vulnerable to increased unemployment, because this hurts most those who are just entering the labour market. They are much more affected by a government’s education policy toward cash grants for students and tuition charges than by pension measures that affect their parents or grandparents. Especially in new democracies, education policy affects the opportunity of getting a good job and social mobility. Insofar as the life styles of young people differ substantially from older generations, youths are more sensitive to laws that regulate behaviour that their elders reject, for example, concerning sex, abortion and the use of soft drugs.
As for the youth of our country, they can contribute in more ways than just contesting elections. Much can be done in areas like educating people, raising awareness about various social ills, and many other areas.
Syed Aijaz Kashani can be reached at email@example.com