Indian Youth: The Future of Today
By Chaitali Verma
I studied that it was Ibn Al Arabi who first spoke of Unity in Diversity- a phrase that children are made to associate with India since the very beginning of their education. But today, one wonders how aptly it is applicable, the India where an 85-year-old Muslim woman was burnt to death as her house was set to fire, where many Muslims had to leave their homes in search of safer neighbourhoods, where some of them now wear a tilak over their foreheads as a safety precaution. As I recall the gory pictures and reports of the massacre that took over my newsfeed in February last year, I sadly and somewhat angrily think to myself, ‘This is not the India I grew up in’.
But this is the India my grandparents grew up in. Where partition tore lives apart.
This is the India my father grew up in, where Sikh men cut their hair and women put on bindis so they wouldn’t be burnt alive. This is the India my mother grew up in, where Kashmiri Pandits were rendered homeless in their homeland. This is the India my sister grew up in, where the fight over Mandir and Masjid was more important than human lives in Gujarat.
So once again, there came a time in the history of our county, when violence took over. As children are orphaned, I wonder how they would have reasoned the death of their parents when they were told that the very faith that was supposed to give all beings hope, that was meant to keep us alive is what killed them.
This leads me to the question, will the February 2020 riots be any different from the incidents mentioned above? Will the violence be any different from the others that occurred before?
For that, I give you one word- The Youth. For years we wrote in our school essays, “We are the future of tomorrow”, and also for years the elders said that we are the lazy generation, the digital generation. However, I remember how one of my classmates sat at the gate of Jamia Millia College collecting supplies for the victims of violence, while several others chose to boycott classes for weeks to attend various protests. I remember the students from my college who volunteered for relief work. Hence, I claim that things will be different because these youth cannot be silenced. We talk about these injustices, we demand that the Parliament talks about them, we make sure that our media talks about them, and we guarantee that our elders talk about them.
A viral news headline once read, “My Generation will be known for memes and wanting to die”, but somehow, this generation will also be known for not being mute spectators in the face of injustice, it will also be known for standing up and taking action, it will be known for art, articles, stories, speeches, protests, it will be known for having an opinion, emanating a voice.
Because we cannot let this become another untold story, another unsung injustice, we cannot wait another thirty or fifty years to voice it out only through our books and movies. We are the generation that has grown up hearing of the criminal silence surrounding Sikhs in 1984 and Kashmiri Pandits in 1990, the one that has rightly learnt from the mistakes of the past.
This is a time where one can either choose to inspire or be inspired. Concluding from the scenario of the past year, there are not many famous personalities that have been a source for inspiration, rather it is the ordinary student who has become the face of taking action, demanding justice and questioning the system.
We may be the technologically dependent, social media addicted generation, but in times to come, when books are written recounting the events of today, we will also be the generation that was aware of what was happening around them, the generation that refused to settle, the one that took a stand, the one that braved the winters at Shaheen Bagh along with hundreds of Muslim women, the one that delivered supplies at Hauz Rani and started a library at Seelampur.
May this rage in the youth ignite a flame,
May it show the system that they cannot be tamed,
May they receive an education which makes them truly learn,
To stand up when they see their nation burn,
May they be that generation, that very youth,
Who forced one and all, to face the truth.