Updated: Aug 8, 2021
How many times have we heard, “I’m not interested in politics”, “Politics doesn’t suit me”, “I don’t really care about political issues”? What people most times fail to realize is that being apolitical or politically neutral is also a political choice, just like all the other choices and decisions we make in our lives. But in a democracy like ours, one cannot completely detach themselves from politics as it involves the collective civic and social rights of the society which is in the hands of an elected government. Therefore, the onus of responsibility falls on the citizens of the country to choose good leaders who would make a positive difference.
Choosing to disengage from politics and its consequences is a privilege not many people can afford to have considering their own livelihood and the country’s fate lies solely on the elected leaders. Those who still choose to remain “neutral” even after knowing what is at stake are those who have largely benefited from the system and rather than political neutrality it is apathy towards others as long as it does not hamper their needs and necessities.
Politics is everywhere and it is almost next to impossible to be apolitical as it affects our daily lives. It is not just about casting a vote every five years but rather understanding that from the public transport we take, to the education we receive - politics is an indispensable part of all our lives. Every little choice we make that may or may not seem to be linked directly to politics is a political choice in itself.
Choosing to be passive and apolitical is a luxury and it is a sign of implicit support of the current economic, political, and social structure of India, along with its major problematic issues such as the oppressive caste system, patriarchy, corruption, and income and economic inequalities. A quote that comes to mind is by Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Political participation of the youth has been stagnant for a considerable period of time and passivity is one of the leading causes for it. Distrust toward social and political institutions can be attributed to political apathy and the significant gap between youth and politics ought to be bridged before it is too late.
Compared to generations of the past, today’s modern youth tend to disengage from politics or rather participate on non-traditional platforms such as social media as opposed to conventional politics. Low voter turnout is proof that we need to step up and be more politically in tune with current affairs as it is vital for each and every one of us, in particular, the youth as we are the face of the future.
The remodelling of the socio-economic landscape could also be a factor to assess why the present youth are more aware, politically informed but choose to rarely participate voluntarily and disengage from matters of need.
Being political is definitely not easy as one is subjected to the risk of being attacked and alienated for conflicting views and political agendas. But the only solution to this is to speak up as creating awareness is one step closer to a more politically woke society. Discussion and discourse are mandatory as no matter what point of view or side one chooses to take, healthy debates that lead to a middle ground are necessary to understand and engage effectively.
The government and the rest of the society should take a pragmatic approach to urge the youth to participate in politics and studies show that individuals are more willing to engage and stand up for issues that are personal to them or directly affect them and remain neutral if it doesn’t.
Educating oneself to be informed, standing up and voicing your opinion for a social issue, amplifying important causes and petitions - the list is endless when it comes to being political and the small steps we can take as the youth of the country.
Therefore, next time before you say no to politics or believe it’s “boring”, remember that you are affirming your belief that our country requires no change, and you are consciously choosing to turn a blind eye and shelter yourself from having to confront the realities and injustices faced by others in our society.