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Dear Leaders, please empower the youth

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VISION FOR ODISHA

Vivekananda’s speech(Dear Leaders, please empower the youth) and his body of work should remind us that the state is known not just for its size and demography but for the creative strength and knowledge of its people. Paradoxically, in today’s tumultuous times, the youth are found to be groping for vision.

The festering social problem of unemployment where numbers are growing by the day with each report pointing to a murkier story has left the youths disconsolate. Quality of education, too, is diminishing.

Left rudderless, the youth feel stranded. Unlike the days in the 70s and 80s where youth leaders rose in droves in response to the clarion call of the great socialist leader Jayprakash Narayan, the youth of today lacks a parallel icon on whom they could model themselves.

Whenever we are told that we are young and are staring at a bright future ahead, it often raises goosebumps on our skin. Regardless of the circumstances, it carries the weight of expectations.

We recall the power-packed messages of our most enduring youth icon- the legendary monk Swami Vivekananda(Dear Leaders, please empower the youth) who exhorted the youth towards social reformation.

He asserted how the youth power could transcend all barriers and accelerate the tempo of growth by unleashing the groundswell of strength within.

At the historic speech at the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago (US) in 1893, Vivekananda(Dear Leaders, please empower the youth) exalted the status of Hindu religion and thought and how the youth could be galvanized for religious amity. All the assembled onlookers were struck by his wit and clarity of vision.

The scenario begs the question- where are the youth heading today? Any nation’s youth is not just a huge force or an asset to be treasured; it is also a driver of the wheel of fortune.

The count of youths leaping the political bandwagon is on the rise. That’s a welcome trend as we need more young blood in the system. But the flip side to this positive story is how these guileless youths are being exploited by canny politicians to further their vested interests.

Resultantly, the promising breed of young politicians in the making turn pawns in the hands of the experienced yet filthy politicians.

We have little to pride on the scale of youth participation in politics as it hardly goes beyond buttressing their masters’ political gains. The youth leaders must realize that their roles are not ghettoized to play yes man to their powerful bosses.

They have taken the plunge with a mission, to reform politics and make it more endearing to the people to whom the politicians are accountable. Unless they are armed with a seriousness of purpose, the youth will go astray and their hard toil will prove to be of no avail.

Today, we see the trend of ‘Bhakts’ gaining wide currency. The agenda of these ‘Bhakts’ is to bolster the image of a demagogue and blindly disseminate his messages- online or offline. Those who dare raise a murmur of protest are systematically crushed.

Voices of discontent in the media or civil society are muffled up with appalling regularity. An editor is divested of his job if she or he attacks the government for its genuine failings. Any comment which is even remotely critical of the government is taboo.

Authors and activists who write open letters to the Prime Minister on sinking economy, mounting job losses or rising instances of mob lynching are slapped with sedition cases. Even students are not spared as the example of the recent Wardha University suggested.

As a trend, this is most disturbing and deplorable. Such anarchist mindset does not behoove of the largest democracy that is India. It is here that the youth got to don the role of ambassadors of change.

The task is gigantic and ridden with challenges in the current political ambiance. But the youths have to overcome this cesspool of stench. The future belongs to them and it is they who can mold it.

Politics has more often drawn the cream of our youth. But political masters seldom realize the need to engage youths to script a better tomorrow.

It’s also worrying that only a handful of youth leaders are involved in crucial decision-making processes. Time to turn a new leaf and bring more youth politicians on the board, now.

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