'I lead India' is a recently made popular initiative by Times of India to channelize youth brigade in small groups in 26 cities across the country and bring about a change at grass-root level. While it is no doubt a great step, taken to give the youth a chance to solve a few grass-root problems of their city and stop being bogged down by the recent flood of negativity that has run rampant on social media in India after a series of rape cases, corruption scandals and irregularities but there are a few facts worth noticing about it.
There is not a single city from north-east India included in the list of 26 cities that has been published by TOI recently. Check out the list here.
This had led to a series of posts and tweets and great dissatisfaction among the youth who live in North-Eastern states of the country. "We too can lead India!" read one of the status updates on the popular social networking site Facebook.
The movement was launched on 22nd May by TOI has already got lakhs of people hooked to it. As far as the statics go, it has a budget of 15 crores and has an impressive network and tie-ups. So it is evident that the youth from North-Eastern states who wanted to be a part of this incredible movement are surely disheartened at seeing no proper way of being a part of this. But then some others have an opinion that if you have to do something then you don't need these big banners and flashy names, you can do so even with the most basic resources.
It's somewhat true that North-easters people are treated differently in other parts of the country. If the news reports are to be believed then they're misbehaved with, they're called by weird names depending on their facial structure and not given equal opportunities at many instances. The recent riots in Kokrajhar, fueled this exodus of people belonging to northeastern states to their home ground.
So we have enough ground to believe that due to some past incidents and some mis-happening. people from North East are deprived from many great opportunities and platforms where they can be a part of the mainstream change,and activity. I, having lived in that part of the country for 3 years now (I study in NIT, Silchar) have also come to believe that those parts of the country are most certainly alienated from mainstream development.
No, it's not at all wrong for a national newspaper to take a shot at channelizing some youth energy in nation building and getting some marketing returns on their investment but as a responsible entity of the national framework (Media is THE most powerful tool, said many) they are supposed to do it in a manner that i benefits the most parts of the country and hurts the least.
This opportunity from TOI is of vital importance to cities. Hopefully in the three month time frame of this project after selection of the youth brigade, cities will be able to find creative solutions to some of the problems they face. North-Eastern states already are at a loss when it comes to great opportunities and often are the repressed section of society nationally. There's just no dearth of talented people in North-East India, and the young brigade from fast-growing cities like Guwahati and Shillong, with such intense help from TOI, would've easily been able to present solutions to some pressing problems affecting the city. But none of it is going to happen!
TOI has a huge budget for the movement (nearly 15 crores) and this event marks their 175th anniversary so it's perfectly justified that it could have added one or two major cities from North East to the list not hurting the sentiments of such a large section of people. Sure other cities are also neglected (A few major cities like Allahabad and Varanasi aren't there) but each of these cities has a center within a twelve hour radius.
But TOI couldn't care less. No option of suggesting new cities, no option of getting suggestions from the public and no polling prior to publishing such a list which links to the sentiments of crores of young janta.
So, what should be done now?
Nothing much can be done for inculcating a city from NE THIS time in the movement because 15th June is the last date for application but we can most certainly make our voices heard to the people who call these shots and let them know that we're hurt by their decision; we can most certainly tell them it is shameful and disrespectful that they ignore one of the most important section of the country as far as development is concerned and that it must never be repeated.
If they're bringing about a movement of change in 26 cities in the country then we, the people from North-Eastern India, should make sure that this news of unequal opportunities and step-motherly behavior towards the land must spread to at least those cities and far beyond. We cannot sit here and brood, we cannot be negligent towards this alienation, we've to speak up and speak the truth.
We've got a movement of our own, we cannot sit on the chairs anymore! (To understand the last line please watch the promo video of I lead India):
From National Institute of Technology, Silchar