Published: 18th February 2021
Swara Bhaskar: Govt knows how effective youngsters like Disha Ravi can be, seems scared of them
The session held by Kautilya School of Public Policy questioned the need to have students involved in public policy and the current scenario in India
As the whole country is watching what happens to young climate activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested for sharing a toolkit created by Greta Thunberg, actor Swara Bhaskar said that it was a sign that the government was afraid of people like her, Citing Disha Ravi's case, she said, "The government knows how effective young people can be and it seems like they are scared. The youth have found different ways to express themselves with various issues on policies that affect them. Someone like Disha who is a climate activists having to face consequences so harsh is a case in point. But they continue to take up different issues."
She was part of a webinar held on media policy by the Kautilya School of Public Policy on the subject 'Can the youth shake up policy and politics'. Mediated by senior journalist Nidhi Razdan, the conversation that examined the question in the current scenario naturally went over the one hour it was supposed to last with generous sprinklings of passion and vigour from each panelist.
"The trajectory that the country moves in over the next few decades will be extremely important," began Nidhi, "Both politics and policy will play a key role going forward and how India's young people will take the nation forward from here is the question of the hour. Is India's young the key to the the future?" Ghanshyam Tiwari, the Founder of PIIndia insisted that the Indian youth were already framing there won experiences and ideas in an effort to build the nation together.
He said, "It is a hopeful moment in politics not withstanding our current politics. Politics has never been more accessible. And there's also a lot of entrepreneurship that they partake in for society based on their own value system. This can change society." The conversation steered towards youth response in the country and he pointed out that when asked to respond with their opinions and beliefs when it came to major issues. 'When offered a platform to express themselves about the CAA bill, only 200 people out of out large population wrote in their comments. When you're speaking about whether you have participation or not, you have to also ask if they are willing to participate."
Actor Swara Bhaskar opined that the youth are a shifting category and what unites them around the nation was their access to technology. She also added that they were growing impossible to ignore in the country's current scenario considering how quick technology has made it to respond to major decisions. She cited examples such as the mass disliking of Mann Ki Baat videos on YouTube as a soft response that young Indians were throwing back at policy decisions that they did not believe in.
When asked, 'What message does it send out when when parents are told to watch what their children do or the government may go after them? Does it send a healthy message to India?' Author Shubrashtra assured that the fight against the establishment has been a constant one in Indian history and that it is natural for the young to rebel against the system as it is to make space for themselves. But she pointed out that the recent protests that have made headlines have not worked in the same way.
"We have all rebelled in our personal lives and had some sort of relationship with the state, she said, "The whole idea of youth activism is to constantly fight with to build our own spaces. So to call it a new trend that is only coming in with this government is wrong." She continued to cite the examples of great leaders in the nation who began their career responding to the ruling government. Adding that the Farmer's Protest had been hijacked by parties who had very specific outcomes in mind.
BJP Spokesperson Shazia Ilmi joined the conversation to add, "We must make make way for more domain entries and work towards something constructive.The youth need sensible role models who are not always talking about cancel culture. There's too much of that. The economy must be allowed to run, shops must be allowed to be open, the railways must be back on track and universities must start afresh with renewed vigour."
The webinar concluded asking 'If people are going to be threatened with FIRs constantly, will it discourage our youth?' Swara Bhaskar had the last word answering, "Let's start by understanding one thing: it's not just electoral issues that are politics. Student activism and advocacy is also politics. And we need to change the discussion realising this. That is actually the kind of politics we need more of!"