At 25, This Andhra Man Is Taking On Politics Like Never Before
In several ways, change is like a wildfire. Both have beginnings so small that our eyes fail to notice them in the concealed corners of the world. But as wind feeds the tiny flames of change it creates a raging fire and gives way to a revolution. It is most exciting to see people talk about ushering in a change but more so when someone in their 20s takes on the heavy challenge of working around government policies, stirring up a civil movement, and improving the Indian legislature.
Twenty-five-year-old Naga Sravan Kilaru humbly introduces himself as 'a responsible citizen'. "I define myself as a responsible citizen because that's the only thing that matters," he says while talking to KenFolios in an interview. His mission is to involve youth in government policies and increase accountability for lawmakers for which he relentlessly interacts with college students through seminars and rallies.
Sravan has walked 3000 km across Andhra Pradesh for representing the youth manifesto and stirring political awareness.
"The thing is we all are educated but not informed. We could be successful engineers or entrepreneurs but at the end if we are not responsible citizens it doesn't really matter what we are," says Sravan, who won the 2017 National Youth Award for outstanding work in the field of national development and social service.
The Vijaywada resident says when the youth wants to work for the society, it can't be limited to distributing sweets blankets to the homeless. We have to step up and have more serious conversations to ensure our society realizes it needs and then voices them out. On the other hand, he also engages with political parties making them understand that the youth needs more than just jobs from their government. It is critical to increase youth representation in politics and for that he campaigns to advocate for 30 percent reservation for youngsters within political parties.
Inspired by a 74-year-old man
Like many youngsters, Sravan's interest in politics found its beginning in 2011 when Anna Hazare launched the anti-corruption movement. He was 17 then. Sravan saw that many of his friends supported the Lokpal bill but had no clue what the bill demanded. It was then he began forming groups of young people to educate them on Lokpal and campaign for the bill, thus beginning his journey towards bringing accountability in democracy.
"In 2011, when I saw (then) 74-year-old Anna Hazare on TV I wondered why an elderly man, who won't live more than probably a decade, is concerned about the future of this country. It was a very immature thought but later I asked myself that shouldn't I, who is going to live in this country for all my life, be doing something for my country," says Sravan.
"Often civil movements lose to politics because we don't have the right set of information. I advocate for change and that change is information."
It is easy to agree that we as society are ignorant of how we function and what role we play in a democracy. Most youngsters, especially those living in urban areas and are privileged, don't know who their MLA or MP is as it does not impact their day-to-day life. This problem cannot be solely blamed on lack of interest as there is also a lack of simplified information that can be consumed by the youth.
Fixing the basics
When Sravan was in college, he began organising campaigns and rallies for youth in Bengaluru and his hometown Vijayawada to spread political awareness and to make politicians take notice of their demands and worries. He started circulating report cards of Members of Parliament from Andhra Pradesh that analysed their political performance and promise delivery. “Once you expose the reality the sense of accountability automatically starts growing,’’ says Sravan.
Sravan with Andhra Pradesh chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu.
"The state is going to have 37 lakh first-time voters in the 2019 elections and around 1.12 crore people will be between age of 18 to 35. We need to organise and tell the political parties that these are our list of demands. Then they will also come forward," he told The New Minute.
In a country where youth politics is led by people in their mid-forties, Sravan's efforts incite hope of a better and more informed future. His incessant zeal to motivate youth to do more than just form 60 percent of Indian population deserves our notice and active support. We can begin with researching on public representative of our area, their track record and potential to offer us good governance.
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