Covering 3000 Kms Across AP In 100 Days, This 25-Year-Old Is Advocating Political Awareness Among Youth
In Narsannapeta in Andhra Pradesh, the unquestionable norm is to marry off the girls at a tender age of 15 or 16, even in 2018. However, one mother was different. She wanted her daughter to complete studies and opt for a career instead of following the custom. The result was the family being evicted from the village, as the sarpanch had adjudged them unfit to reside in a place which abides by her customs above everything else. When 25-year-old youth activist Naga Sravan Kilaru met the girl, she expressed her resolve to return to her village one day and acquire political stronghold there to transform her village lurking in medieval darkness. “But, the first question in my mind was, is there any chance a young woman will be granted a political platform in a village?” Sravan shares with The Logical Indian. He has launched the Yuva Galam campaign in Andhra Pradesh, the first-ever walk across 3000 km expanse of the state for representing the youth manifesto and generating political consciousness.
The birth of a leader
Naga Sravan Kilaru was a teenager of 17 when he learnt about 76-year-old Anna Hazare organising a nationwide campaign against the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill. “The untiring dedication of our leaders even at such an age, made me question what are we doing as the youth other than adding up to 60% of the Indian population?” Sravan shares. He adds, “We see so many youngsters raising their voices against an issue, flaunting a political banner. Upon introspection, I realised that very few of them were aware of the issue in depth, so they focussed more on ranting about political parties rather than striving to bring a change themselves. About Lokpal, I can clearly recall that 90% of the protesters knew nothing about the provisions of the bill apart from its anti-corruption nature.”
During his college days, Sravan already started organising campaigns in Bengaluru and his hometown Vijayawada, to spread political awareness among the youth, and heed their demands and grievances. He started circulating MP report cards – infographics that analysed the political performance and promise delivery of the Andhra Pradesh MPs. “The sense of accountability starts growing automatically once you get more exposure to the reality,’’ asserts Sravan.
Initially, whenever he convened a new campaign, a lot of resistance came from the students and their parents, who considered political awareness a mere wastage of time as ‘the situation won’t change.’ Keeping the scenario in mind, in all his meetings, Sravan emphasises how our attitude and involvement needs to undergo a drastic change first to see some actual social change in effect.
About Yuva Galam
Yuva Galam literally translates as “voice of the youth” in Telugu. The campaign was launched by Naga Sravan Kilaru and his enthusiastic associates on August 12, 2018, with an aim to traverse all 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh in a span of 100 days. The main motive of the drive is to talk to the youth in every corner of the state, document their demands and draft a youth manifesto.
I have a dream for youth, Do you ??Launching "YUVA GALAM" – A March for Million Dreams !! Share your aspirations and dreams with us. Together we shall strengthen our voice and fight for the rights of the youth. Looking forward to listen to your dreams and ideas for youth. #YuvaGalam #YouthPower #March4MillionDreams
Posted by Naga Sravan Kilaru on Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Cycling through obscure villages, Sravan is meeting with young boys and girls in colleges and high schools, trying to infuse political consciousness in them through his motivational speeches. He meets mostly with people in their 20s, most of whom are first-time voters. Sravan explains to them why the first step to choosing a government is to understand the political nuances in India, rather than framing our opinion based on unclear facts and figures shared by media.
So far he has covered 5 districts starting from Srikakulam in northern Andhra Pradesh. “I have walked for miles, slept on the roads and bathed in the canals. Being a city-bred person, this might seem like an adventure to me, but the harsh truth is that this is the regular lifestyle of thousands of rural youngsters across India,” Sravan shares. He tells about Kumar from Ichhapuram, who has been walking 4 kilometres every day since class 8 to continue his studies.
“Youth is not the future of this country, youth is the present”
When elections are around the corner, the political parties go all out with promises to create more jobs. But Sravan discovered that employment is not the primary concern of the youth as our society orchestrates us into thinking. He realised that our education system is riddled with flaws as it is not making us responsible citizens. Instead, it is forcing us to believe that better grades and more money are the primary aims of life.
The proposals in Sravan’s youth manifesto are three-fold. Firstly, Yuva Galam demands at least 30% youth reservation within each and every political party. In his own words, “Today’s youth lack a prominent platform to voice their opinions, the nonchalant attitude of senior politicians make them doubt their credibility to have a voice. That’s why our political engagement is limited to ranting on social media, and in turn, the political parties consider the youth disoriented and irresponsible. Our aim is to bridge this gap.” He adds, “The youth should also attempt to be more responsible in their actions. Before debating about India-Pakistan controversy, a young man or woman should first know the policies and schemes enacted in their village, whether they are being implemented or not.”
The second demand is to improve financial literacy among the young people. “In the villages, I found young adults who do not know the difference between a current account and a savings account. They struggle to manage their earnings, as they have very little idea about proper investment,” narrates Sravan. He proposes financial education be included in the school curriculum to actually make Digital India a success.
The final demand on Sravan’s list is to make all corporate internships paid so that the job seekers are motivated to work and learn skills sincerely.
Once the manifesto is ready, Yuva Galam will present it to all political parties in the state for an increased inclusion of the youth in governance. Presently, they have also chosen a senior leader from every political party to serve as mentors to the youth. “We can proudly say we are politically unbiased and our main focus is youth representation,” declares Sravan.
A true youth icon
Naga Sravan Kilaru has been awarded the prestigious National Youth Award this year. His extraordinary efforts and powerful leadership have been recognised by the United Nations and the Commonwealth Youth Council as well, where he represents India as a youth ambassador.
This dynamic youth icon envisions someday his Yuva Galam will transcribe into Yuva Dalam, a youth force to reckon with.
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