Non-committal and laid-back attitude is responsible for the identity crisis, says Rupak Johnson, a communication expert
The preparations for the Lok Sabha elections are going in full swing throughout the country. Almost all the political parties have turned their attention towards youth who, they think, will make a significant difference in the poll outcome.
But in Odisha, no major political party has so far come forward with an agenda focusing on the youth and their cause. Whether it is a lack of political will or the visionary approach remains to be seen. This situation makes it imperative for the youth of the state to come forward and make noticeable contribution for the larger good of the society. The 11-year-long period is enough to understand the fallacy created by the now-divorced BJD-BJP combine in the name of development.
It should be very clear by now that signing MOUs is, in fact, not a sign of progress. Development on all fronts is possible only through a democratic process which requires greater change in the society with the power of youth.
Youth: Psyche and behavior
The youth in Odisha finds itself in a catch-22 situation! The idea of making a career out of politics seems to be too naïve for him; it is too daunting a task to be taken as a career. He thinks only on specific line: good education, a fixed 9 to 5 job and a life surrounded with family and friends. This notion is so ingrained in his mind that other thoughts become useless; his thought function like a system by default. It would be appropriate to say that the youth takes politics in a very narrow perspective; he does not relate it with his social and economic well being; it is something which should remain out of his domain.
This myopic view has cut them off from the youth of the other states. Look at neighboring Andhra Pradesh and the progress it has made in the last one decade! It was the power of youth and their active participation in politics that made the difference. Even now, the young film-star-turned-politician Chiranjeevi and his Praja Rajyam party is going to contest forthcoming elections with the power of youth. The politically empowered youth can make things work for his community and the state; he can be a powerful change-agent for the inclusive growth of the state.
Another close-by state Bihar reveals the power of political bargaining resulting in the benefit of the state. The young political leaders of Bihar make it sure that their state gets the maximum share of the central aid. The state has far better railways facilities than Odisha. Again, it was the collective political pressure which compelled the Prime Minister to term Bihar flood as a national calamity and dole out a large share of the central aid in the name of relief and rehabilitation.
The firebrand young political leader of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is a political power in her own right. She exudes supreme confidence and has a raw courage to take on superior opponent like CPI (M) on Singur land issue. The mighty Tata Company had to beat a hasty retreat. Even when she was holding the charge of railway minister, West Bengal got better and more train service facilities. The young brigade of her political party, Trinamool Congress, is a force to reckon with in urban Kolkata.
Speaking internationally, everyone can in unison that it was the youth power that brought Barack Obama into the helm of the political establishment in US. Further, our neighboring country Bangladesh witnessed the political involvement of the youth that brought Sheikh Hasina into power. Then, there is Maldives which witnessed the ouster of Gayum, the old guard on the lines of Bangladesh.
It goes without saying that the youth in Odisha have not learnt any lesson from these examples. Regional mindset and short-sightedness have crippled their mobility and put them in peril. They are blissfully unaware of the political affairs of the state; they have nothing to do with the MOUs; they have nothing to do with the break-up of BJD-BJP alliance. In the last one and half decade, they never raised their voice to know what has been done for them by the ruling political class.
It is highly unfortunate to learn that in the age of IT and ICT, the youth of Odisha have no viable interactive online community whereby they can discuss social and political issues and exchange their thoughts, views and opinions on issues related to the development of the state.
The Telugu youth, scattered all over the globe, remain connected with the affairs of their state through cyber-world. Will the youth here wake up and change his attitude? Or still enjoy getting involved into petty-politiking deriving sadistic pleasure out of it? Will they ever shun hitting below the belt and stabbing at the back? From where have they learnt the art of going back on their own words? They feel at ease to backtrack and behave as if nothing wrong was there at all. How can the state grow politically when the youth are non-committal? How can they be pro-active when they are used to procrastination? These are the old habits which need to die a sudden death. The state needs to revive itself with a renewed attitude of mind.
The road ahead
All eyes will be on Odisha to see whether a change of guard takes place. The political situation is volatile; people are disoriented. A competent government is the need of the hour in the state. If the youth become determined to bring about change, no one can stop them. They need to analyze the situation; they need to see the greater future they can shape through their active participation in politics. At a time of global financial crisis, it becomes more necessary to bring into power such a government both at the centre and state which takes steps to develop the state through democratic process. Good governance requires transparency and an equalitarian distributive system. The youth should work towards evolving a people's agenda which is a long overdue. The baton must go to the youth; they have the vigor and valor to ride roughshod over the non-performers. It's a clarion call.
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