Updated: Aug 8, 2021
The problem of being uninformed on matters of politics
Two major problems plaguing the Indian scene of politics, especially among the youth are either being misinformed or worse - uninformed. Many people bask in the fact that ignorance is bliss. Voter and political ignorance are widespread irrespective of which side or party one chooses to support.
Renowned new-age actress - Alia Bhatt was trolled for her lack of general knowledge when asked who the Prime Minister of India was, she replied Prithviraj Chavan who was the Chief Minister. Giving her the benefit of the doubt that it was a slip of the tongue goof up, it cannot be denied how young voters are so disconnected from reality.
A video that went viral in 2018 showcases young Indians answering questions pertaining to politics and society and although the answers were funny, the looming question at large was - how will we progress as a society when a large majority chooses to be wilfully ignorant about reality?
With the advent of the internet and the tremendous growth of technology over the last few years; we have information at our fingertips and are almost virtually attached with a mobile phone in our hands. Recent research shows that urban youth binge on exhaustively large chunks of information without necessarily gaining substantial knowledge leading to ‘information addiction’.
Millions of messages are sent through social media platforms and WhatsApp in particular is known for being notorious and unregulated when it comes to spreading misinformation and fake news. These forwards are extremely harmful and apart from the defamation caused to certain individuals/parties, there is no accountability taken when it comes to spreading false propaganda.
As the world’s largest democracy, ironically India ranked right at the top of the 2016 Ipsos Perils of Perception Survey’s so-called “Index of Ignorance.” The problem of being ignorant regarding political issues does not only stop at the lack of knowledge and general awareness but this translates to unfair elections, fundamental civil liberties that are honoured but have major flaws like media freedom infringement. The use of media as a piece of political propaganda machinery and suppressing political opposition are the other problems that exist with being uninformed and electing inept leaders.
In addition, this also leads to having an underdeveloped political culture in the community due to ignorance regarding the functioning of the government and basic civil knowledge. Politicians take advantage of the citizen’s ignorance and use it to spread fake news and lies, manipulate them and instil fear while bribing and buying votes to garner attention.
The easiest way to be more politically informed is to read! Reading is an important aspect of educating oneself and thus one should not restrict themselves to only a certain newspaper or source but rather read all available information and make judgment calls to analyse their political takes on matters. Debate, discourse, and discussions at all levels should be encouraged, and listening to other people’s perspectives makes one evaluate their choices. One thing to keep in mind is to be more informed rather than be opinionated.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson - An American statesman & diplomat, one of the many things he was, “A well-informed citizenry is the best defence against tyranny.”