Published: 07th September 2018
Yuva Yatra across Andhra: Meet the man who's cycling across AP to get students to create a manifesto for the polls
The young activist is actively engaging with students to get them to talk about what they expect from the next government so that they can create a manifesto for parties before the 2019 polls
Imagine a stage shared by Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu, actor and politician Pawan Kalyan and leader of the opposition and YSR Congress Party president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, addressing the energetic youth of today. If and when the trio ask the crowd what they want, there is surely going to be one unanimous answer — jobs. As per a World Bank report, India needs more than eight millions jobs every year. So there is no doubt that the youth would want a piece of the corporate pie, or even the government pie for that matter, as the number of youngsters who still prefer a sarkari naukri peaked at 65% in 2016 as per a survey conducted by the Lokniti research programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi. And if that's what the youth wants — more and more jobs to satiate their hunger — that's exactly what the politicians will offer, or at least promise to offer.
On September 4, a Beach Walk was organised at RK Beach in Visakhapatnam which was followed by a beach clean-up
But this trend, where the youth's job-centric mindset is further encouraged by politicians, is something that is discomforting for us all, more so for Naga Sravan Kilaru, who painted this hypothesis for us. Swap any politician with the trio, he claims, and the hypothesis will still stand true. "Do we really need the youth of this country to run behind a salary alone and not participate in nation building?" questions the 25-year-old and reminds us of all those instances where we have advocated for more youth representation or, at the least, more youth involvement in the functioning of the country. But Kilaru, who is from Vijayawada, is tired of expecting the youth to come forward. Instead, he is going to the youth himself, to find out what it is that they want. So in a bid to gain this understanding, the Andhraite is cycling to all the 13 districts of this coastal state, stopping by more than 230 colleges to interact with youngsters. And he calls this initiative Yuva Galam, the voice of youngsters. His aim with it is to be the voice of the youth of Andhra Pradesh and make sure that they are heard and catered to, especially in the context of the upcoming 2019 elections.
My vision is that there should be no need for a Yuva Galam in the next five years because the youth will be informed and aware
Naga Sravan Kilaru, Founder, Yuva Galam
United they stand
Kilaru started his journey from Ichchapuram on International Youth Day on August 12. He has been to several colleges so far including Swarna Bharathi Degree College, Ichchapuram; Sri Sivani College of Engineering, Chilakapalem; Dr BR Ambedkar University, Srikakulam; MVGR College of Engineering, Vizianagaram and more and plans to visit several others. Now, here comes the important part. After collating all the problems and opinions of the youth, he plans to draft a youth manifesto which he will push for in all political parties. In this regard, IPS officer V V Lakshminarayana (famous for handling the disproportionate assets case against Jaganmohan Reddy) is the mentor for the initiative. MP Ram Mohan Naidu Kinjarapu from Telugu Desam Party, MLA Anil Kumar Yadav from YSR Congress Party, MLC Visakhapatnam PVN Madhar from BJP — all of these politicians from across the spectrum of parties are also on board and will help Kilaru push the manifesto. And what will the youth manifesto contain? It will be a compilation of what the youth expects. It will be further distilled when Kilaru releases the compilation in the public domain for the youth to vote on and decide their priorities and then, Kilaru will take it up with political parties. One example of what might find prominent space in the manifesto is 30% reservation for youth within the political parties. "If political parties believe in the youth and trust their abilities as much as they say they do, why not make them a part of the party?"
This year, Kilaru won the National Youth Award which was given away by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India
Education is subjective
Over a 45-minute session, Kilaru tires to read the pulse of the students while visiting every institution, speaking for 20 minutes and letting the audience do the talking after that. "You'll be surprised, or maybe not, to know that among the students we have interacted with, 85% don't know who their MPs are even though they are quick to blame the 'whole government' for everything, without understanding who exactly is responsible for what," reveals Kilaru. This goes to prove that though, thanks to social media, the youth today is educated about what is happening around them, very few are well-informed in the true sense of the word. "I don't want them to join politics and change the country. All I'm saying is ask questions, engage and do something about the problems you complain about instead of just whining about them," explains the youngster. And by saying that, he not only implores them to vote, but also asks them to be responsible citizens. "I don't intend to start a revolution or a movement, I just want to make them think," he emphasises.
Look it up: Kilaru launched Yuva Galam on July 22, 2018 with a video describing his purpose
Debates, discussions and deliberations with the youth are his focus and bringing their issues to the limelight, his main aim. It is at this point in our conversation that he recalls meeting a young girl from Padmavathi Degree College, Narasannapeta, Dakshani. She moved from her village to Narasannapeta, but kept worrying about her friends back home who were being married off at the young age of 15. Motivated by Kilaru's talk, she came up to him to say that she will contest elections and change things. "Will she really contest? Will she win? And if she loses, will she lose her spirit to initiate change as well? I don't know. But the point is like Dakshani, every youngster needs a shot at bringing about a change, either through elections or through volunteering. They need to be aware of the avenues they can opt for to bring about change," he says. And Yuva Galam is his way of making the youth aware and appealing to them to look beyond jobs and heed to the call of the nation.
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