HYDERABAD: When the Aamir Khan-starrer ‘Rang De Basanti’ released in 2006, there was a scene in the movie which struck a chord with youngsters across the country. The scene was so simple that even the makers did not anticipate that it would generate so much mass hysteria that it continues to impact activism even today.
The scene is the candle light march at India Gate in New Delhi. We all nurture this passion to be a changemaker in the society at some point in time in our lives, but due to lack of direction, we ignore the spark and it ends up being a flash in the pan. But there are a few who have given fuel to this desire and have made a mark as a young youth activist.
Donthineni Narasimha is a case in point. Narasimha was like any other teen pursuing his undergraduation in Hyderabad but one incident forced him to ‘wake up’ and stand up for a cause. "While studying at CBIT, at the age of 19, I witnessed a series of accidents in which students footboarding on the bus fell and met a gory end. Three students died in a span of 20 days. I could not take this lying down and decided to fix it. Along with a few of my friends, I started a signature campaign with the demand that RTC increase the number of buses on the outskirts of the city in peak hours on the Ibrahimpatnam route. We collected more than 12,000 signatures and submitted it to the government,” Narasimha explains.
Soon, the state government obliged. “We noticed that metro buses were little empty when compared to general buses and most students had general bus passes. So, one of our volunteers met the minister and we suggested allowing students with a general bus pass to travel in a metro bus at minimal cost in urgency. The government this introduced combination ticket for students. Students having general bus pass could travel from any place to any place in Hyderabad in metro bus at a cost of only Rs 7,” he stated. That was Narasimha’s first taste of success as a youth activist.
Currently pursuing his MBA (PG diploma) from IIM Rohtak, Narasimha is also a certified yoga trainer who has trained 1,000 youngsters. Also the founder of ‘Youth for Better India’ which currently has one lakh youth as it members, he fights corruption.
Later, Narasimha became the state coordinator for Anna Hazare’s ‘India Against Corruption’ movement in 2011-2012. He also contested the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections at the age of 24 in February 2016 and was the youngest contestant from the Loksatta Party. Narasimha also received the ‘Young Achievers Appreciation Award’ from Vande Mataram Youth front for his fight against corruption.
“Before taking up any issue, I gather information through primary and secondary research. I take the opinion of few like-minded people and enrol interested people for the cause and I involve them in designing the strategy to address the issue. This will make them feel a part of the team. Like a true management grad, he tells us, step-wise, how he goes about fixing issues.
1) I make a list of people affected by the issue 2) Then I enlist people fighting to address that issue 3) Then like-minded people who are potential supporters once they understand the gravity of the issue and a need for change 4)The levers of change, whose support will expedite the process - media, political parties, etc.,”
Narasimha is currently fighting for ensuring that all public libraries in the state are modernised for which a petition is pending in the Hyderabad HIgh Court. Looking ahead, Narasimha has set his eyes on politics.
“All libraries should be digitalised and as many books as possible should be made available to the public for free. There should be at least one library in every panchayat. Not just books, but magazines (for career, professions and education) should also be made available in all libraries. Libraries should lend books on a weekly basis. This can be linked to their Aadhar card for accountability. People should also be able to request books which are not available and those books should be made available either in digital/physical format.”
He says that the local youth should volunteer to oversee the functioning of the libraries (timings/cleanliness).
This aspiring politician does seem to talk like one already. “My dream is to see India as a country where every individual, irrespective of his birth, gets equal opportunities to realise his potential. I think this can be best done through reforming the system and what better way to reform system than through politics. For me, social activism and politics are inter-related. Sometimes political activism brings intended reforms faster than through social activism. Politics itself needs to be redefined to change the course of the country and I am up for the challenge,” he concludes.
He is busy with his MBA and his multiple activities across the country. He says that every opportunity to raise his voice and find a solution has made him a better citizen. “We all need to start activism in our own little circles. Then change is inevitable,” he concludes.