India’s Student Protests: Struggle for a Better World

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Students protesting the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar. Video: Delhi Stories

My recent visit to India coincided with the student protests that convulsed the nation. What was striking was not the scale of the agitation but the idea of India put forth by these young men and women seeking freedom, equality and justice has resonated with the people and altered the national discourse. In the words of a leading feminist writer, Nivedita Menon, they are “fighting for the soul of India.” Their youthful insurgency represents an indictment of the entrenched power system that is elitist, exploitative and devoid of concern for the disadvantaged. By energising the public debate on social justice, they have rattled the right wing BJP-led Government under whose watch there has been an assault on free speech, on concessions for the disadvantaged and on minority rights. Continue reading

Young People and Politics in Europe –Two Parallel Worlds

A dramatic decline in electoral participation, decreasing membership of political parties (especially among young people), disenchantment with politics, together with the growing complexity of politics – all these news point to the fact that citizens’ involvement in political processes is changing. This seems far away from the optimal shape of a representative democracy, which aims at involving people in policy-forming processes and promoting civic competencies (John Stuart Mill 1861). The acceleration of economic development as a result of globalization and the digital revolution, as well as an increasing lack of democratic legitimization of major political decision-making institutions (European Central Bank etc.) have led to doubts about a sustainable future for liberal democracy. As a result, a continuous discussion ranging from a ‘crisis of democracy’ to promising new forms of democracy in a third stage of modernity is packing libraries worldwide with pertinent literature. Taking a sharper view into reality, how are young people´s (in the age group 16 – 25 years) attitudes towards the liberal democracy in Western countries, are they interested (or not) in politics in general? Continue reading