Why should young people be politically aware?
It is expected that a talented young person will play an integral role in the country's policy-making in the future and serve the country with their wit and knowledge. But in the social system of Bangladesh, the youth are becoming politically unaware and distancing themselves from political discourse due to the general perception that the political landscape is corrupt.
What is political awareness? Political awareness means having the basic knowledge of politics, studying the important issues of history and having the ability to analyse current events through an informed lens. However, many people now understand political awareness as the implementation of the ideology, spirit and purpose of a particular political party through active participation.
But this is an inaccurate assumption. We must remember that direct participation in politics and political awareness are entirely different things. It is important for a person, who directly participates in politics to be politically aware, but it is not necessary for a politically aware person to directly participate in politics. A politically aware person can help change the quality of politics from their position. For this, it is vital that the medium through which the youth attain political knowledge is improved.
The youth are constantly exposed to political activities. In addition, the negative perception of politics has instilled in them as the idea that politics is an inherently bad thing. But does the brunt of the youth's reluctance, or rather, aversion from politics, fall only on the youth? Of course not.
The state itself can never escape responsibility. Disruption of democratic practices in the educational institution by stopping student parliament elections, partisanship in the name of student politics, the exercise of brute display of power, tendering, handing over leadership of student politics to non-students, increase in unemployment and lack of employment opportunities amidst other things have forced them to divert their attention away from politics. The state must do its due diligence to ensure such undesirable practices do not seep into our system.
Nonetheless, why should the youth even be politically aware? The problem of political unawareness has to be borne equally by the individual, the society, as well as the state. The biggest downside of political ignorance is that it gives rise to ignorant leadership. Underqualified policymakers naturally implement policies that don't bode well for the system. It is because of such policies that qualified personnel are frustrated, and compelled to leave the country. As a result, society and the state have to face the consequences of brain-drain.
If any new policy or law is passed in the country, the youth should be able to analyse it and voice their opinions about it in an informed manner. The younger subset should be aware of what is happening around them. It is important to be politically aware to understand your rights. While it is not essential to be directly involved in politics and political parties, it is vital to be politically aware.
The writer is a student at the University of Asia Pacific.