For me, Yuva Galam (roughly Young Voice in Telugu) began as a simple idea in Vijayawada. The idea was this - youth is not the future of India, it is the present. How to go about spreading this simple idea to people everywhere? Following in the footsteps of leaders walking across the state, I felt the need to do something similar. I planned to travel all across Andhra Pradesh with on cycle, from Ichapuram to Anantapuram. Over 56 days, I covered more than 1860 kms from Ichapuram in Srikakulam to Bapatla in Guntur, speaking in more than a hundred colleges and talking to more than 30,000 students. My message to everyone was short and straightforward - you must take part in politics, raise your voice, and ensure your aspirations matter in how our democracy functions. The response I got was enthusiastic and powerful. The energy in the youth of small towns and big cities, in villages and panchayats, was palpable and demanded radical changes in how our politics is practised. Yuva Galam as a movement lasted from August to December 2018. I had to wind it up for various reasons, personal and otherwise.
It is April 2020 now and the world is trying its best in fighting the COVID 19 pandemic. The spirit of Yuva Galam is now being revived as an organization. An individual might not always sustain his or her ideas and energy for a cause. But an organization made of like-minded people can be sustained and continue to fight for its cause. During its phase as a movement in 2018, I identified a number of gaps and hurdles. There were multiple roadblocks for any student or young professional wanting to take part in or organize political campaigns or civic movements in one’s neighborhood. Some might drop out of their pursuits due to lack of resources, mentorship, or the right networks. I did not want others to face what I did, to fight hard just to get their ideas off the ground, just to make a meaningful intervention. The fight must begin AFTER you are in the arena, not just to get into the arena. I did not want anyone from this generation or next to have to make sacrifices like I did just to make themselves heard.
Politics in India has been notorious as an arena with high entry barriers for young aspiring leaders. Unless one has the right connections, resources, or familial ties, it is tough to make an impact in politics. This is not just about electoral battles but simply about mobilizing people to solve local or regional issues, to raise demands politically to have your voices heard, to have your ideas implemented. With Yuva Galam, we intend to create those resources, knowledge base, and the kind of access to important networks that will empower Young Leaders to rise and usher in changes. The next big idea or the next promising leader must not need to walk or cycle across the state to have their ideas heard. They must simply need to be strong in their credentials, experienced in their ideas, and committed enough to be able to make a positive change. What once began as a cycle journey to spread one idea is now becoming an organization to amplify many more ideas from those who have frequently been neglected by our politics and policies. Better representing the voices of young is our manifesto. Your voice is our agenda.
Simply put, Yuva Galam must grow beyond me. It should not even need me after a while. I think its message is enduring and will connect to youth anywhere in the country. I might falter at some point, but I want the organization to continue championing the cause of youth for the coming years. We are starting off as a small team now but we will continue to progress. We all might wonder what a small bunch of motivated individuals might achieve, if they can bring about wide changes. But as someone remarked long ago, powerful changes are driven by such groups alone.