MUMBAI: The turmoil that has gripped the youth and students -- powered mostly by the intelligent but impatient millenials -- inside and outside campuses across the country, is considered unprecedented in the past two decades, and left the powers-that-be rattled right out of a stupor.
The youth's unified angst flaring up at regular intervals from the north, east, west, south has manifested against various contemporary issues that have rocked the country's ruling dispensation in the past few years.
The young, modern-day 'Davids', especially the millenials, feel all this has created a divide of sorts -- psychological, social and political in the country, by the 'Goliaths' symbolizing the current rigid rulers.
Recently, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had prophetically warned that the "country's youth are like a bomb, if you play around with them, they can explode".
"The youth are out because historically, they have always been the first to protest against any kind of social or political injustices... What the young brigade see now is very dismaying, and kindles no hope for their future," Pune's Yuvak Kranti Dal Vice-President Kamlakar Shete told IANS.
Passionate about issues, Shete warned that given the magnitude of the issues confronting the nation, these protests will "only magnify" till the government yields -- "not only an inch, but all the way" -- for a better future for the youth.
A youth leader Chandan Saroj from Wardha said while the government may believe the illiterate masses can be fooled easily, "the youth have seen through their antics and are now wide awake" to fight for the citizens' rights which are sought to be usurped by a handful of individuals in power.
"The youth are educated, they understand, think, analyse the disastrous consequences of government decisions, how the Constitution is being tinkered with and which way the nation is heading... The rulers forget that the youngsters also possess the power to arrest such trends," the soft-spoken Saroj told IANS.
Another firebrand youth leader, Fahad Ahmad, former general secretary of TISS, Mumbai, feels this is "a new movement for Freedom from oppression" of the current government which is attempting to crush all sections of society.
"The youth is feeling uncertain, demoralized, he/she has no clue how the education they get will help them build or secure their future... They are splitting the country on grounds of religion, caste, creed... We are determined -- if they divide the nation, we will unite it," Ahmad told IANS.
Invoking a famous line -- "Darr ko itna mat darao, Ki darr hi mar jayea -- he cautioned that the youth is not 'scared' of anything now.. for, in the past six years, the government has driven wedges between communities, imposed restrictions on what to eat, wear, speak, think, etc. -- the kind of which was not witnessed even during the long and merciless British regime or the brief and harsh Emergency.
"But the youth is united... You assault them in north, east will protest, you terrorise them in west, south will oppose... Our slogans are about 'unity, integrity, amity, harmony' and the government cannot break this unity. We will not be violent, but we will no longer be silent," Ahmad asserted.
About the brutality they face, they proudly refer to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, who was martyred at the age of 21, and many other youngsters in recent decades who sacrificed themselves at a young age to ensure a better future for the rest of the youth and the nation.
They emphasise how students and youth have been at the forefront of every major historical turning point in India, be it the Independence movement, anti-Emergency of 1975, the anti-Mandal Report crusade, the Nirbhaya agitation, or the recent ones opposing Citizenship Amendment Act, and the potent youth always succeeded in bending the ruling might, and globally too.
About the battering the country's image has taken on the world stage, Ahmad says that actually the image of India as a 'vibrant democracy' has been reinforced in recent years as the country's "youth has now fully woken up to the grim realities".
Conceding India has taken a beating in global ratings, Shete refers to the condemnation that abounds on the global social media against the government, worrying investors, tourists, etc., but feels this is "necessary for the larger, long-term national interests".
"Until now, India may have been considered only economically backward, but in the past six years, we have gone politically, socially and intellectually backward, our proud and envied image as a country of 'unity in diversity' has been shattered. The world now knows that India is a strong democracy where anybody who tries to deprive the masses of their rights will be uprooted," Saroj said.
The three enthusiastic leaders are unanimous that despite the harassment and problems they encounter at individual levels, the youth of the country cannot be cowed down.
"The agitated, young Genie is now unbottled But he will work only for the good of the country's youth and future," declared a determined Saroj.