Social responsibility is not a phrase easily associated with the young and the restless. But as we have known, students and young people have risen to tackle political issues across ages — be it during the Indian independence struggle, the Tahrir uprising of 2011 or the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. In India, this is an interesting time for young people. Social media has given a voice to personal angst and also given them an insight into politics and social inequity.
Many young people are today using diverse media streams to blog about issues and some have taken the social concerns into the space of tangible activism.
Many youngsters in the city are now the pioneers of social change, taking matters into their own hands, one way or another, to participate in creating a better society for themselves.
“To see an educated India has been my dream and that is how my journey started to make an impact on the society. If I can make a small change, then I truly believe a united and driven youth force can bring about a revolution,” says Harshitha Chidanand, a student at the Ambedkar Institute of Technology.
He has started a group called Help Women Lead to increase female literacy rates in the slums of Bangalore. There are many others who have joined her in the efforts to better the lives of under privileged-kids in the city. The city has numerous groups like this with motivated young people working towards social betterment.
“Youngsters today are already very passionate about igniting a change in our city, and they can make use of the many platforms for this. They also use social media to talk about the work they are doing,” says Suchita Isaac, who is a part of U&I, a youth driven charity that works towards positive social change in the spheres of education, human trafficking, child and women welfare and mental health.
“Youngsters have actively participated in the Nido Tania (a young student from Arunachal Pradesh who was killed in New Delhi during a racist attack) protests, the LGBT protests, and during various bike and cycle rallies across the city,” Hemanth Lakshman, a student of Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology says.
And now, with social media, most specifically social networks like Facebook and Twitter serving as a platform for these youths to stir up conversations and discussions, the idea of social responsibility has been spreading rapidly.
“Since the youth use social media to stay connected, this platform can be used very effectively. It has become a very good place for youngsters to discuss and debate about issues,” says Solomon Donald, a student of St Joseph’s College.
“It is not just a place for discussion,” says Harshitha and adds, “It is an arena to reach out to people. Gaining members adds momentum to a group, increases its productivity and thus helps in creating a larger impact. We can use all the help we can get.”
What do these youngsters actually do to protest? The responsiveness ranges from protesting in front of government buildings to counter injustice, to teaching in government schools, to convincing parents of girl children to let them go to school, to cleaning up city streets.
“The youth are no longer afraid to break the silence that surrounds domestic violence, false promises made by leaders, discrimination based on caste, colour, religion, gender,” says Brinda Adige of Global Concerns India, an NGO striving to empower society by addressing its various injustices.
The idea that a teen is always absorbed in his or her own world has been abolished by the youngsters of today. By changing little things around them, they are inspiring others to start doing the same. They know that big changes begin with small steps.