Catalyst for Change is the Youth Brigade: Reflections on Peter Eigen’s Speech at ISFiT’s Plenary Session
During the ISFiT’s Day 1 plenary session, I followed the entire ISFiT twitter feed, flooded by the appraisal of the remarkable and brutally honest session given by Peter Eigen of the Transparency International. One tweet that caught my attention was by Hallgjerd, the head of ISFiT Parliament quoting Peter’s words that “Corruption can be defeated. Students decide how?” Then the words of Kurt Cobain echoed in my mind and I sent a tweet to Hallgjerd that : ‘The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.’ With these words, I summed the whole idea of this year’s ISFiT agenda. Indeed, by deliberating upon the matter and arriving at solutions, the young minds are going to get a voice to challenge corruption. In the next tweet that Hallgjerd sent to me, she said that Peter Eigen indeed agrees that “Young people are the great hope.”
Corruption is a well known problem, but somehow it is often forgotten. We all want to really bring it up to the surface, somehow and persuade people and organizations to focus on this social problem, with the goal to create a peaceful riot against corruption.
Every year, on Independence, we beam with pride for our nation, for how it struggled to come out of the evil clutches of the powers that once ruled it. To some, it’s another holiday. To others, it’s a time to rekindle the patriotic movies, listening to patriotic songs. We might like or condemn Prime Minister’s speech, for it may be filled with empty promises. But why do we feel like condemning it ? Is it because we are going to hear the same old stories about how India, once an agricultural society, has boosted its economic growth with huge investments in industry and commerce? Perhaps, this is why!
Many citizens may claim that the only change seen in the past 69 years post Independence, is the transfer of power from the British to our leaders, about who Winston Churchill once said : “Power in India will go to the hands of rascals, rogues freebooters and charlatans; all Indian leaders will be of low caliber and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. Giving false promises will be their game with the poor and stupid masses. They shall be shameless and unpatriotic in their ways while handling problems of the people. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air, water… and common salt would be taxed in India.”
I guess our leaders took his words as a serious challenge and passed with flying colors.
On one hand, we have the world’s largest democracy where there has been an economic boost post liberalization, and we are leading a good and progressive life. On the other hand, India is among the most corrupt countries of the world, ranking 85th out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Over the years, we have come across numerous scams involving billions of self destruction. We talk a lot about ahimsa (non violence) yet ours is the one that can be quite violent. ‘Mobocracy’ is the order of the day. India has 65% of its people below 30 years, but the country is being run by fossilized octogenarians and except a few, most of the leaders sometimes seem, incompetent. Sometimes, caste equations can blur the governance issues. And although, politics in India may not be explained entirely in terms of caste, but caste influences political activity from Gram Panchayat right up to Parliament. If you have the numbers in legislature, you make it to the power. In many cases, leaders of national parties have been filmed taking money, which ultimately ended up their career.
One of the main determinants of Corruption to be rampant in India are the massive levels of poverty, even though there are hosts of other reasons as well. Corruption is multi-faceted and permeates in more than just one ways. The need and desire to hoard more resources at any cost, for private gains and the exploitation of poor at the hands of elite and the lesser desire in the poor to work and being easily lured by the offer of incentives, breeds grounds of greediness and a vicious circle of corruption follows. There cannot be a bribe giver without a bribe taker.
So, how do we stop the menace? We are the youth! If we have such serious concerns about the nation, why don’t we be the agent for change? We all debate upon “What ought to be done,” when in fact, the question should be : “What have we really done”? Why are we still being spectators.
Can we start by working to create some kind of awareness and be vocal about bribery and corrupt practices. Lest we forget, the first step to combat corruption is to not submit to the demands of corruption.
And the most effective way to change the system from inside isn’t in remaining outside the system. You have to get into the system but at the same time, you don’t have to get soaked by that system. More so, the superiors in different fields should be more open to impart adequate practical knowledge they have gathered over the years, to their subordinates, because nothing but experiences talks loud and works best.
Join politics, law, or social sector or do good in your respective fields, but don’t give up on morals and be truthful and a role model. Work in different fields but share the same vision : Betterment of society. If everyone wakes up from the slumber and raise the curtain with collective conscience, the world can be changed for good and corruption can be mitigated, if not eradicated. Let’s remember : “Our lives start to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”
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About the Author :
Nupur Walia is a student of law from India and a social worker. She likes to take up online opportunities which gives her a platform to build good professional network and in the process, great friendships. She likes to play with words and loves reading, writing, poetry and some good music. She is an avid dreamer of improbable dreamer and a hoper of far – flung hopes.