Friday, July 15, 2016

Youth, Fundamentalism and Violence

Wherever you scan the scene, there's one incident plainly visible - an increasingly large number of youth attracted towards fundamentalism. In a connected world, this becomes a problem as minor incidents become visible to all, and can be twisted out of context. Across Asia, Europe and America, policy-makers are worried as to how to reverse this trend, and turn it to a positive movement.

To understand this problem, we need to get a handle on its various dimensions.

Let us first take a look on the most crucial life goals for a young person. I can understand five - a good job, nice salary, reputation in society, happiness of family and hope of stability and success over the next 10 years. If a young person considers himself able to achieve these, or some of these, then his/her entire personality and interest turns positive, otherwise it's not too tough to misguide him. Whenever political instability is the norm, youth try to find their own ground. When it happens in a democratic setup like India's, we get leaders for the future with a strong sentiment to tackle the nation's problems.

But the real problem arises when youth find a completely disintegrating system. A good example is the age of the Arab Spring (2010 to 2015) when the young people of the Arab world aggressively challenged the old, family-driven regimes. In some nations, they could achieve their goals, like Tunisia, but in others it created a full-blown crisis. Fundamentalists were able to whip up passions enough to turn young people into terrorists. By referring to mistakes made by colonial powers like Britain, France and Russia a hundred years ago - for example the Sykes-Picot agreement which dismembered the Ottoman empire to create new States - the Islamic State (I.S.) was able to create its own ground. By promising religious solutions to some real-world problems, young men are being used to carry out atrocities and crimes that are unimaginable.

Emulating this successful model was almost like a formula for fundamentalist preachers in other nations too. Since the formal education systems are generally unable to generate real capabilities that can be fruitfully used in a changing job-market, frustration is rife at various levels. The young, who are working hard to get a good material life were bombarded by media (through advertisements and programmes) with life-ideals that further accentuated frustration. These young people (15 to 25 years) saw corruption all around, leaders building personal palaces, the handicapped police, and ideals for sale in the examination systems. In the middle of all this, when elders at home teach virtues of treading the ideal path, the youth is unable to digest it.

The Kashmir problem kept escalating as our neighbouring country kept fanning the fires, and our own leaders perhaps failed to communicate properly and neither could they create opportunities for a better life. Young people from Kashmir live and study peacefully in other states of India, and perhaps no one has any particular problem with the. But Kashmir is on the boil frequently. The same situation seems to be with Kerala. I visited Kerala twice on long vacations, but I did not see any spontaneous or visible religious fundamentalism. But the I.S. reportedly is finding new recruits frequently from here. 

In a multi-cultural nation like India, fundamentalism is no solution at all. In my opinion, we can use these five strategies to create a long-term plan -
  1. Political unison regarding issues pertaining to Religion - All political parties have to realise now that they need to stop exploiting religion for their gains. The violent results won't spare them either. It's time to adopt an aggressive secularism. Leaders of civil society should give this message to political parties and fundamentalist thinkers. The stories of the real heroes of history - Kabir, Shivaji, Vivekananda, Frontier Gandhi etc. - should be retold to our youth with a modern flavour, so they can absorb them and understand the dangers of fundamentalism.
  2. The social side of Police - At the initial level itself, when an individual tries to sow the seeds of fundamentalism, the network of local police and its grip on social dynamics should be so effective and positive, that such youth should be counselled and stopped. In today's technological age, it is easy to identify such youth. The same social media sites that terrorists and their sympathisers use to create aberrations in young minds, can also be used by us to neutralise them.
  3. Vocational as well as Formal education - When a young person gets a formal degree and roams around jobless, he/she is a good potential target for such terror organisations. If our youth can be given skills-based / vocational education on a very large scale, and also made aware of the genuine problems of real life, they may be able to start their lives with a lot less anger.
  4. To not be a Soft-State - The best treatment of cancer is to hit it fast, hit it hard. It is useless to wait for it to grow. A very effective, though controversial, method adopted by Russia has been to ensure that the near ones (relative) of terrorists are made to pay the price. In a transparent and true democracy like ours we surely cannot do that, but if someone turns to terror, he/she must have this fear in the mind that the fruits of his actions will perhaps be borne by other people (for example - loss of government jobs, stopping of various subsidies, etc.). However, this can happen only through a parliament-mandated legal process.
  5. To nurture young leadership, truly - All parties promise the moon, but capable youth leadership hardly emerges. It is not possible to connect with the youth like this.
It is the crying need of our times that we give a fitting but peaceful reply to those treading the path of violence, and their motivators.

Sandeep Manudhane, Article, Blog, BrightSparks, PT Education, MBA entrance, IAS, Success


Unknown said...

Sir, the way you think to promote youth capacity in positive manner is adorable. But as we can see in daily newspapers it has become trend to promote the person who support extreme left wingism. The people call themselves intellectual are not ready to write which brings peace among the people but they are happy to write about the people who are turning people toward terrorism Ask a common man about Sundar Pichayi or Shah Faisal the answer would be who are they most of the time. But when you ask who is Burhan Vani or Osama they know everything. It's not only about the media, somehow our democracy that gives us freedom of speech, we forget that it shouldn't cross the limit. For me the best option is the education. Education which would make them fit for jobs, making himself/ herself prosperous and country as well (if you will teach them about Osama as a liberator, how can you expect him to become Obama).

Reetesh said...

A nicely written article on the current situation in which the entire world is burning. Now it is time when our politicians should show maturity and work towards the well-being of every person rather playing blame-game. And yes education system needs to be reformed from grass-root level so that the youth can walk with some sense of pride.

nida said...

These are really valid and logical points,mentioned in simpler manner. The intolerance and ignorance basically leading this current situation which is emerging as a global issue.The proper guidance,effective leadership,quality education, equality like factors might become the possible ways to pacify the youth.

Unknown said...

I think the first page of newspaper should be filled with achievers rather than terrorist attacks or other saddening news. As a young person wakes up from his slumber he should see something positive which gives him hope. The kind of yellow generalist done by media should be stoppef

Unknown said...

I think the first page of newspaper should be filled with achievers rather than terrorist attacks or other saddening news. As a young person wakes up from his slumber he should see something positive which gives him hope. The kind of yellow generalist done by media should be stopped.

Unknown said...

The root cause of terrorism is understood well in the blog. We have to first focus on the very basic need of youth i.e. employment, if they are well established then it would be too tough to distract them from their path. As you said that Vocational and formal education should be provided to each and every individual, that would bring a noticeable change. The government should rather focus on meeting the aspirations of the youth than exploiting religion for their gains. Also making better use of technology and social media to encourage the young generation towards the growth and development of the nation. Emerging of youth as leaders will inspire others too to be a part of the rising nation in one or the other way.
Akansha Shrivastava

Unknown said...

Very well analysed Sir! Media and govt. think that youth is becoming so arrogant because of their ego and to get some fame. Nobody see the actual reason behind this behavior of youth. The insecurity of the young generation is heating up. Jobs are scarce, skill-development is not sufficient and proper guidance is never given. In such an environment all the value system and morals got down the drain and they resort to devilry. But, we cannot blame the system alone, we as youth should also understand that, by being arrogant and by leading some processions or rallies, is not a solution. A panacea to all this problem should be invented by mixing and collaborating the suggestions of different stakeholders including young minds.

Unknown said...

Sir I think one of reason why our youth is digressing from path of peace is his or her over expectation and somewhat keeping himself or herself away from realty .
He/she had kept themself in a wonderland and expect something very adventurous and mesmerizing will happen soon and sometime in search of that adventure they choose that path .
One of solution for this problem is that parents and teachers even friend should check their friend that we should not let him /her mooring on conflicts and violence.

DISAK said...

there are generally two types of people in today's world one who believe in God and another is not believe in God but both the people believe in something, which they don't know.this people are identify themselves as a believer of religion .they have great confidence and you know great confidence without necessary clarity is a disaster.And as consequence we see various distorted ideology that is far from human well being.
and the only way to get rid of this kind of nonsense is to divert our formal system to the basis of seeking.Other wise any people who read Mahabharata or Qoran or Gita have a false believe that I know everything.