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How Yogendra Yadav’s Youth for Swaraj is taking urban students to India’s villages

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Yadav’s socio-political platform Youth for Swaraj has been providing a chance to India’s youngsters to work at the grass-root level and study the agrarian crisis.

New Delhi: In an age when youngsters are generally known to prefer professional courses such as management and engineering, there are some interested in working at the grassroots level and studying the agrarian crisis in the country.

And academic-turned-political activist Yogendra Yadav’s socio-political platform Youth for Swaraj has been providing a chance to such youngsters for the last three years.

These youngsters are students from Delhi University, Amity University and colleges in Mumbai and Pune, among others, and they say they have been able to understand the ‘real India’ through the programme.

After two years of a programme called ‘Drought Duty’ where the students were sent to drought-hit areas, this year Youth for Swaraj conducted a programme called ‘Talash Bharat ki’ (Discovery of India) under which they sent students to Bundelkhand in Madhya Pradesh, Ganganagar in Rajasthan and Parli in Maharashtra to understand the different kinds of agrarian crises rural India faces.

As part of the programme, a batch of 10-12 students is posted for seven days in the selected regions. During the period, the students survey households, interact with residents and try to understand their problems. After the ground survey, they prepare a report on the issues they witnessed and contemplate on the kind of policy level intervention that can help.

“At a time when the nation is politically heated up on the issue of agrarian crisis in rural India, our idea is to make urban youngsters visit rural India to get a first-hand experience of the urban-rural divide,” Manish Kumar who heads the programme for Youth for Swaraj, told ThePrint.

“Students who were associated with us in the last two programmes are now either working with some regional groups in the places that they had visited or some NGO. Some are also associated with us. Most of the students who have come to us are interested in working on rural issues, especially on the agrarian crisis, which is why they joined us,” he added.

Shivam, one of the participants in the programme, and a student of Hansaj College, Delhi University, said, “I come from an agricultural background, so I wanted to understand the ground reality and it was a very enlightening experience for me. When we went to Ganganagar, we met a community called Dholi community, these people are landless. For them, the idea of a nation India does not exist. I asked them if they know what Bharat is, they could not answer that. It just makes us realise that when we talk about things like nationalism sitting in Delhi how detached are we from the ground reality.”

While some students join the programme to get an understanding of the rural India, others are looking for alternative political ideologies to become a part of active politics.

Himanshu, a student of Sir Parashurambhau College, Pune, said, “I was following Yogendra Yadav since the time of the Lokpal movement and wanted to work with him. This internship gave me that opportunity.”

Rohit, a student of Kirori Mal College, Delhi University, said during his internship in Bundelkhand, he discovered many anomalies in MNREGA.

Even though there are other programmes for rural connect, like the government of India scheme — Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Scheme — under which selected fellows get to work closely with district collectors on various development issues, the Youth for Swaraj programme is unique because it focuses specifically on ‘agrarian crisis’.

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  1. Good work by Mr. Yogendra Yadav. I was saddened when he was associated with group of opportunists and now he should carry on productive works in the area of social interests.

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