Knowing that the young have decided to be on the mend, India is recuperating from the hold of gerontocracy.
The structure of Indian democracy is laid so that it can adapt and convalesce to the prevailing conditions of our nation so that it can reflect the reality of contemporary politics. Yet, our highest-ranked leaders tend to be the people who have not lived in these contemporary realities themselves. Hence, we require representation that reflects the realities of our time, of our generation, and of our political disposition.
These are 10 of India’s most formidable future young leaders who have managed to position themselves to contribute to the policy-making of tomorrow. And here is your chance to get to know those in whom you might finally witness the fulfillment of all your political aspirations.
At the age of 21, Arya Rajendran was chosen as the Mayor of Thiruvandapuram, becoming the youngest person in the nation to achieve this feat. She was exalted in the Mudavanmughal district of the Municipal Corporation after receiving a total of 2,872 votes, 549 more than the Congress candidate competing against her. Arya, who holds a B.Sc. in Mathematics from All Saints College, completed her degree while managing the maintenance and growth of Thiruvandapuram's municipal corporation with its 10,000 citizens and a budget of 1600 crore. Her major focus as mayor has been waste management in the state’s capital, a challenge faced by her predecessors as well. As for her efficacy, it is warranted as the people of Thiruvandapuram continue to hail her name.
Damayanti, a resident of Jagatpur Balisahi — a slum in Cuttack, Odisha, won the Corporator post from Ward 49 on a Biju Janta Dal ticket in the urban local governing body elections in 2022. As the youngest corporator of the Cuttack Municipal Corporation at 21, she was then elected as the Deputy Mayor of the civic body. Post-elections, Majhi has been working on her plan of action for Cuttack. With confident strides, Damayanti has worked on improving the living conditions of people in her slum where people struggle day in and out to get basic amenities like drinking water and electricity. Although a greenhorn when it comes to politics and administration, Majhi continues to balance her responsibilities as the deputy mayor of Cuttack, Odisha.
Rafia is one of the two youngest councilors elected to the Delhi Municipal Corporation at the age of 24 in 2022. As an elected councilor for ward number 78, Bazar Sita Ram, she broke the 15-year incumbency of the existing councilor with her background as an experienced Educator and Social Worker. Her past roles as a school teacher and volunteer for years have entailed her with the perspective of bringing change suiting the needs of her constituents. With her efforts bolstering her promises, she continues to serve her constituency with full confidence.
Maroti has recently been elected as the Sarpanch of Bothbodan village in the district of Yavatmal, Maharashtra at the age of 22. He represents the Gramvikas Parivartan Panel, which was launched by the villagers themselves in order to keep power away from the incumbent position holders within the community. He and the villagers are not attached to any political party but aim to work with the people as the newly elected head. Maroti’s village lies in the cotton belt of the Yavatmal district and has often been termed infamous for farmer suicides — a problem Gejik is adamant to uproot. He thinks that with Maharashtra Panchayati Raj reserving the seat of his village, SC families like his own that were previously ignored will now have the chance to be recognized and contribute to the growth of their community. Hopeful for the future, Maroti continues to work relentlessly for his people and has proven to be the promised Sarpanch the people of Bothbodan elected.
Sneha Padayan was elected to Thrithala Block Panchayath (Palakkad district, Kerala) on July 22, 2022, at just the age of 22 as a candidate of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Conflating her education with her responsibilities, Sneha is currently working on policies that focus on catering to people’s basic needs like water, roads, and shelter. She has a strategy to create professional development opportunities for the oppressed classes, giving them training to improve working circumstances because only then can they improve their standard of living. Parallel to this strategy, Sneha promises a sustained future of education by aiming to expand library programs so that locals have more opportunities to interact with books and other learning aids.
Yashodhararaje Shinde is the Sarpanch of Waddi, a village in the Sangli district of Maharashtra. Before this, she was studying to become a doctor at New Vision University in Georgia. Compelled to represent her community, her family, and their cause for her home village, she returned to India and contested the elections just at the age of 21, successfully winning the popular vote. She is not only committed to gender justice and women's empowerment but also aims to reduce farmer suicide rates in the country. She believes in contributing towards the progress and development of younger generations and has begun to actively include these agendas in her policies as the head of a village of 4000 people.
A history graduate from St. Stephen’s College, Chandrajyoti joined the Indian Administrative Service in 2020. She was posted as an under-training officer in Patiala where she undertook a variety of roles during her training, including Patwari, Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Circle Revenue Officer, and Tehsildar, which allowed her to learn about the many facets of an IAS Officer's role as a Revenue and Development Official. Currently, she is serving as the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) at Sultanpur Lodhi, Kapurthala where she is focusing on citizen-centric service delivery with the intent of improving the systems currently in place so that anyone who comes to her office with a grievance does not go back without their problems being resolved.
After graduating from Shri Ram College of Commerce at the University of Delhi with an honors degree in economics, Ananya was one of the youngest qualifiers for the cohort based on the results of the 2020 UPSC CSE. In October, she entered a two-year training program that concentrated on both academics and extracurricular activities and skills, such as Himalayan treks, Bharat Darshans, Indian Army attachments, etc. Her initial training was conducted in the district where she was assigned in Howrah, West Bengal, for about 10 months. She began working for the Government of India as the Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare for 3 months after completing her training at LBSNAA in June 2022. Ever since then, she has been posted as an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Department of Health and Family Welfare, at the Government of West Bengal.
On October 20, 2022, Roshan founded the National People's Governance Party with the goal of creating a New India with technocratic governance that would give the youth a voice. Dubbed the party for the “internet generation”, it currently has 150+ members in Mumbai. The party is also committed to increasing the number of employment opportunities for women. Additionally, Roshan and NPGP aim to provide coding and design workshops for underprivileged kids who do not get the chance to access proper education. At 24, he also leads a robust team of 30 employees at Permissionless, all working towards the same vision of building a public infrastructure for the new web and solving complex problems leveraging a technology that is ‘blockchain'' where transparency and shared ownership are going to be prominent variables in macro-consumerism.
Elected in 2022 at the age of 21, Lakshika Dagar is the youngest woman Sarpanch of Madhya Pradesh. For the post of Sarpanch in Chintaman Jawasia Gram Panchayat, eight women candidates from the village had entered the fray. Lakshika was the youngest candidate among all who won by 487 votes. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication and is associated with Radio Jockey and Journalism in Ujjain. “After filing the nomination papers, my aim was to work for the development of the village. It has been promised in the manifesto that the problem of drinking water, drain, and street light has to be solved in the village. Along with this, the promise of getting the benefit of a housing scheme for the homeless families of the village will be fulfilled,” said Lakshika as she continues to fulfill her promises today.
With hope on the horizon, delve into knowing more about your young leaders of tomorrow with Young India Foundation's 25under25.