2020 has been a tumultuous year to say the least. While a pandemic sweeps the globe currently, it wasn’t far ago that the biggest and youngest democracy in the world underwent a memorable period in its history as a nation. Although many of us remember the wave of dissent as a tug of war of ideologies, the biggest takeaway that the year has given us was the upsurge of youth participation, out on the streets, to reclaim civil liberties and overthrow ruthless laws.
But what exactly propelled thousands of young individuals collectively, and in a way that is unprecedented, to rage so ardently against the current regime?
One can say it began simmering with the CAA and NRC laws mandated by the government. Horrific police brutality and inaction at Jamia and Aligarh Muslim University uncorked the fury boiling among all. The state turning a blind eye to human rights violations and the situation at hand blazed this fire. An outpour of dissent gripped the nation. Young people could no longer tolerate the apathy and the sectarian tendencies of the government, and rose en masse against an immoral autocracy jeopardising their very existence.
Challenges for the young protesters were, and still are, aplenty.
- Institutions are slow to respond.
- Peaceful protests are met with blood-curdling violence.
- Any alternative voice to the current xenophobic interests is deemed anti-national.
- The support of the media is long lost, and conflicting views and WhatsApp wars within families lock horns. Labelled as ‘radicals’ and ‘slacktivists’, the battle for the future makers of the country seems long drawn.
But despite it all, there was a faint light at the end of the tunnel. The movement became a huge umbrella- a bastion of hope for many, and sought to address all kinds of issues that the youth was facing, beneath its soothing shade.
For some youngsters, becoming a part of them meant demanding a Free Kashmir, while for others it was pushing the agenda for a better education system. Every young Indian embraced the protests in their own way, encapsulated in the spirited slogans and sprightly quips aimed at overpowering the hegemonic governance.
The irony is the more that the laws aimed at seclusion are being used to suppress a community, the more they are succeeding at sensitizing the youth to coalesce into one entity. A separatist agenda is achieving just the opposite. As Rega Jha puts it “Those preaching and practising hatred, violence, and division don’t realise it, but they’ve just galvanised their own ideological opponents. They always do.”
The Supreme Court remarked that dissent of the youth is a democracy’s safety valve. To contain its expression, is to build up frustration and alienation among the young people. The need of the hour, therefore, is for the state to realise their folly in turning a deaf ear to the concerns of younger Indians and comfortably employing distractions to divert the issues at hand. The young students showed us how thick-skinned and unwavering they can be in the face of resistance, and go on to monumental lengths to not let their country fail them.
As a Tweet wonderfully encapsulates, “You can muzzle the media, scare off corporates and intimidate film stars. But students….students have nothing to lose, their entire lives to gain and an infinite capacity to stay pissed off.”
The objective of a ‘Think Article’ is to bring knowledge about policies in the sphere, in context to the youth of India and, if possible, influencing the policy process. The article has no motivation to pass any political judgments.
- Jha, Rega. “2020: The year apolitical stopped being a choice for young Indians.” Times of India, 1 March, 2020. www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/big-mood/ 2020-the-year-apolitical-stopped-being-a-choice-for-young-indians/
- Bhatia, Sidharth. “India’s Young Are the Real Heroes of the Year.” The Wire, 27 Dec. 2019. thewire.in/rights/young-india-students-caa-protests
- Pandey, Vineeta. “Youth protests sweep India.” Deccan Chronicle, 20 Dec. 2019. www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/201219/youth-protests-sweep-india.html