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Activism vs. ground reality

There are a lot of things that we as citizens don’t understand while reading news or posts like this. We have all observed that there is a worldwide awareness campaign running on social media or by different groups to sensitize people about various issues like the environment, feminism, castism, mental health, etc. We see the youth on social media responsible and involved in discourse and dialogues which were never done before. Movements like the #metoo movement, body positivity initiatives, mental health, and its importance are rising to the surface. But who are they helping? How are they improving the ground reality?

Research says that social media is a great tool. We are privileged youth, born with a silver spoon with the luxury to talk about the environment while sitting in an AC room, discussing depression and talking about work-life balance and million other things. We don’t realize that even these problems are here because of our privilege.

But, in India, there is a majority crowd living in the villages and towns with no access to such discourse. Castism is so real there. Patriarchy has its worst faces in those households. We all have come across stories about rapes, domestic violence, and discrimination. We have even somewhere been a part of it and observed it around us.

Social media lead a discourse about equality and the by-product of it lead to the youth becoming active and vocal. Research also says that social media plays a major role in awareness. But I still feel we don’t get a firsthand experience about the reality and we fail to understand the eons of conditioning and history these issues have.

In the last event we conducted, we talked about our constitution, our right to free speech and active citizenship. We discussed this thing in length. Stories were shared of how our ‘liberal’ thinking was affecting the lower middle class and poor. A man shared his village story.

check out highlights of our event here:

He was a Rajput, thus a respected member of the upper caste, now living in the urban city with great exposure to such discourse about activism. He visited his village once and insisted on meeting his childhood friend who happens to be a Dalit. His family was against it (of course). But he was an activist (of course). He visited his friend, had meals with him in his house, which was for some reason an even bigger crime. He left his village after a couple of days; he then learned that his ‘Dalit’ friend was bullied and beaten by the villagers because he had ‘contaminated’ the thoughts of a Brahmin. What shit, right? But, sadly our reality.

Similarly, when we come across stories of domestic violence, we ask the women to file a case, show some courage! But that woman after a possible divorce won’t have a livelihood because she is dependent on her husband. We talk about courage and we criticize when a woman stays silent, but how many times have you shows courage in your life, to judge her for her life choices?

There should be a change. There should be equality. That Dalit should not have been bullied, that women should be more independent. But is our understanding of the ground reality good? Are we operating this activism from being angry about the reality or being empathetic towards it?

The awareness movement, dialogues about all these are a great first step. But what can we as a woke unit of youth do to empathize with the ground reality and bring about a change in their lives through love, courage, and support?

Written by: Manasvi Shah

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