Youth and Radicalization - A threat to India

The Indian government may not yet realize but the virus of radicalization has infected our youth in a big way. While it is true that ISIS hasn’t yet succeeded in building armies filled with the youth of India, it is also no secret that during the Charlie Hebdo attack, Facebook was filled with posts by some people supporting the attack. Their views were no different than those of the jihadists and these included young men from well educated, modern Indian families who are employed as doctors, engineers, corporate executives and the like. Religious fanaticism takes hold as politics is mixed with religion in a deadly cocktail that paralyses world’s largest democracy.

If you thought the threat was restricted to just one community, you are wrong. The way some Right wing forces are influencing the youth is extremely hazardous. History is a prime indicator of what happens when a single religion tries to take over the world by violence, it necessitates that the other too rises to match the power of arms and “An eye for an eye” is what follows. India’s past is marred with bloodied stories of religious clashes. Remember the Emergency of 1971 or the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s murder?

In a high population environment seething with poverty, lack of education and employment, religion is what comes to people’s aid. They believe that their God will make them happy and provide for them. There is nothing wrong with holding on to hope in times of dire distress except when religious extremism takes over. Such circumstances give power to religious heads, priests or Godmen and this is where the problem begins. Drunk with power and besot with greed, such leaders often indulge in hate speeches, propagating false facts and twisting History to suit their whims and fancies. What follows is riots and bloody aftermath. In a heated up environment, a spark is all it takes to burn an entire city down. The same radical, political and power-hungry elements then return like vultures to feed off the dead as politics and power struggle begin but do not end with the blame game.

We live in a world where people talk a lot and listen only to respond. Nobody listens and everybody reacts. Media is at fault here. When noise becomes news and anchoring gets equivalent to shaming and screaming, the ideal set is that of raising your voice without paying heed to what comes out of your mouth. As decibel levels on our television sets increase, road rage becomes an everyday thing and religion as passion worsens everything. If only the religious leaders took out the time to sit with each other, talk, discuss and critique all religious texts equally, the world would remain peaceful and calm. Misinterpreting the freedom of belief, thought and expression has already damaged the society. Taking it a notch further are the religious extremists and if their roots aren’t cut off, the fallacy of the next war being fought with sticks and stones might just come true.

The Indian policy makers must immediately start taking a note of the influence of large radical groups on the youth of the nation and start politicizing around it. A whole-in-one solution is to be aimed at with a comprehensive approach taking in view all the factors responsible. Effective administration begins with keeping a check on the violence meter in our country torn apart in the name of religion. Our neighbours aren’t especially helpful and Kashmir is barely keeping it together. In such a tense scenario, it only makes sense to have a tight grip over other parts of the country. Indian youth must remember that “Unity in Diversity” is important because “United we stand and Divided we fall”.

- Shivangi Singh