When 20-somethings kick-start a political dialogue among the urban youth
At an age when most boys his age are thinking about girls, cars and high-paying jobs, 22-year-old Anirudh Belle is on a mission—to make his peers more politically aware. “There is a deficit between the consciousness of the average voter and their awareness of public policy issues. Our focus is on the urban youth primarily because they don’t usually vote and are not registered on electoral rolls,” says Belle, who is doing his final year B A Economics at Loyola College.
An internship in 2013 with senior Congressman Dr Rajeev Gowda in Bangalore (where he helped to get the youth involved in Gowda’s Lok Sabha election campaign) made Belle realise that “young people my age respond to causes far more easily when it is presented to them in their own language.” Thus was born You Speak India (YSI), on August 15 last year—an initiative to encourage youngsters to cast an informed ballot. Belle is its founder and editor in chief.
With a core team of 10 like-minded people, YSI has many ideas to spread awareness—like What’s Brewin’?, a monthly two-hour event where panellists (chosen based on the theme of discussion) and youngsters will discuss political issues at youth haunts. The first session, on February 16, was a success with 54 participants interacting with the likes of Indian National Congress’ national spokesperson C R Kesavan, Lok Satta Party member Elizabeth Seshadri and activist-cum-journalist Nityanand Jayraman.
The next stop for What’s Brewin’? and YSI (who is developing a larger, city-specific team) is Mumbai, in time to get ready for the 2015 Assembly Elections. Also on the cards are ‘Rock The Vote’—an event that will get bands (or DJs) with youth appeal to perform in various cities, where Election Commission of India stands will be put up, to encourage young people to register—and city-wise ‘Run for India Marathon’, held with the same objective.
What’s Brewin’? will be held at various venues. Registration: Rs. 200-Rs. 250. Details: youspeakindia.org
– Surya Praphulla Kumar