TODAY -

Changing The Word 'Politics' To 'Life', Would You Be Interested ?

Misao Hejang Hangmi *



The first thing that comes to our mind when the word 'Politics' is mention is 'Dirty Game'. Many people especially the youth wanted to stay away from politics because of this perception. The media also consistently puts out stories of how most politicians are corrupt. But the truth is it was not always so. As many as 26% in the first Lok Sabha and 32% in the second were youth (aged between 25 and 40 years). But in this Lok Sabha the same figure has drastically dwindled to 6.3%!

Though the youth representation in the first two Lok Sabhas looks healthy, the number of cabinet Ministers aged between 26 and 40 in the first cabinet was zero and the average age was 52 years. The average age in the current cabinet has gone up to 64 years! We are the youngest nation (average age 27 years) ruled by the oldest cabinet in the world!

Of late, though, there is a revival of interest in politics, thanks to the Civil Society movements, UN bodies and NGOs building youth leadership and ownership of common spaces. A product of this change is the number of young voters who came out and voted in the recent Delhi elections and the number of young candidates fielded I these elections by some parties and their performance.

The capital's young people have certainly come of age. Now the rest of the country needs to reconnect to politics and create a vibrant engagement. The politics of this country is poised at a crossroads. One road will take us towards leadership being concentrated in a single hero figure. The other could take us to leadership being shared and devolved to millions of people in the country.

Young people want to look beyond just voting and claim a space that is ruled in their name. why should young people be content with engaging with the tip of the iceberg the voting process rather than participate in all the twists and turns of the political story?

Initiated by ComMutiny the Youth Collective, "My Space My unManifesto" a movement that kick started by bringing together 300 young minds to discuss their vision for the world they want to co-create has now spread across 15 states in the country. Starting off an unprecendented change in the political mindsets of the youth of this country. We call it the unManifesto because like Alice's unbirthdays in Alice in Wonderland, we believe young people want to celebrate and embrace politics each day of the year.

Instead of blaming young people can be prepared to claim the democratic spaces for themselves by experiencing it first hand. This experience will give them a real world opportunity to learn about themselves, about society and about their democracy like no book or speech can offer.

Since September 2013, UNFPA has come on board as a primary supporter and partner of the campaign. UNFPA United Nations Population Fund is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA emphasizes the inseparability of population and development and focused on meeting individuals' needs rathen than demographic targets. Youth is a special focus area for UNFPA and it has done far reaching work in building leadership of adolescents and young people across the country.

UNFPA, Community The Youth Collective, Pravah, Youth Ki Awaaz, Gandhi Fellows are the core incubating partners of the campaign. The campaign is further owned and run by a rainbow coalition of 42 organisations who work with young people on a wide range of issues including, rural development, tribal rights, governance, environment, adolescent and youth development, transgender rights, government school reforms and social inclusion.

Till now, through several on-ground discussions and events, online debates and Tweethatons (Twitter chats) have received 10,356 promises as on 12th December 2013 from 5,31,461 young people belonging to a wide range of communities across the country. The top 10 promises collated from the crowd-sourced youth unManifesto so far were presented to peoples' representatives across parties to include in their manifesto.

As the campaign progresses we plan to go to 14.5 lakh young people through both on ground and online interaction. We aim to collect 80000 promises and will be approaching 40 peoples' representatives from 8 parties. The political parties are already beginning to take notice and till date 7 parties and 23 peoples' representatives across India have expressed their willingness to carry these youth voices to their manifesto making committee.

In Manipur InSIDE-North East and Young Men's Christian Association will kick off the campaign starting from last January till March, 2014 with the following objectives:

1. Learning and leadership building among youth to take informed stances and engage in everyday politics rather than just during election time.

2. An understanding among the youth regarding what is politics, how does the system work and where can I as an individual citizen influence the decision making process.

Greater awareness among the general public especially the youth regarding what is a manifesto, how is it made, what are the promises made for the youth.

The question here is cannot the political arena become a:
o A space where youth experiences democracy first hand
o Where young people learn about themselves by taking action in the political world
o Which helps youth to relate the larger world politics to their own pains and aspirations
o Which helps young people take an informed political stance

Politics is just another word of life. Aren't we already politicians in our own homes and institutions? Every act of organizing, influencing and decision making in a group is after all a political act. The manifesto gives an experience inside the ring of democracy that you just can't afford to miss.


* Misao Hejang Hangmi wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is the founder and chief functionary of Integrated Social & Institutional Devt. for Empowerment - (InSIDE-North East), also working with DKA-Austrian project Coordination North East and can be contacted at jmisao(at)hotmail(dot)com
This article was posted on January 27 , 2014.


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