Way back in the BC era, the great thinker Chanakya had recognised the potential of the youth as an agent of change and had said,” the world's biggest power is the youth....” Indeed, these prophetic words have proved to be correct era after era in different parts of the world, where the youth have raised their voice against the prevalent injustice in the society and brought about change.
The issue of the role and potential of the youth as architects of change in a society brings us to the pertinent question whether, the youth in our part of the world – the Barak Valley, are motivated enough to fight for a better future not just for themselves, but for the entire valley and its people.
The youth of the valley have scripted a very illustrious history for themselves. After all, who can forget that fateful summer day in 1961, when thousands of youths walked down the streets of Silchar expressing their love for their mother tongue Bangla, eventually leading to the martyrdom of eleven of them. Much later in the eighties, the fight for Silchar’s own university, where they could pursue their studies without any discrimination on the grounds of language, was also led by a few motivated young men and women.
However, unfortunately, the present situation looks extremely bleak. While the entire valley plunges deeper into darkness with mounting problems ranging from law and order to infrastructure, the youth of the valley looks disinterested and indifferent.
The cream of the student community who are blessed with English medium education and brilliant academic percentages, are the most indifferent lot. Their definition of success, often scripted by their parents, is about clearing high profile entrance exams and leaving the valley for good in search of greener pastures.
Interactions about Barak Valley’s problems with these youngsters, often settled comfortably in the Metros with mushy jobs within a few years of completing education, is like shouting on loudspeakers in front of deaf ears. They are mostly more concerned about their next salary hike or the EMI for their new car or apartment.
Many of them even pretend to completely forget their roots and the issues confronting those roots.
Those who are still in the valley also do not seem to have the fire within to challenge the current political leadership and government machinery to mend their ways. It is really baffling that a valley with such great history of struggle and protests has failed to produce a single young leader who can lead the others to usher in a new era.
The colleges and other institutes of higher education are also supposed to be the cradles where dynamic leaders start their political journeys. The colleges have elections, which also produce the required office bearers but real leaders do not emerge out of the system. Those youngsters who decide to get into politics are unfortunately more interested in the benefits of ‘politics’ rather than the social responsibilities that come with it.
There are definitely exceptions to the rule and there are a few committed individuals and organisations, which are working hard to take Barak Valley out of the morass it finds itself in. However, they are few and often very lonely. The youth must understand, that it cannot just migrate to bigger cities and wish away its roots. If it decides to keep quiet today, it will have to answer to its next generation tomorrow.