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Indians are uncomfortable questioning their leaders, says YLAC founder Aparajita Bharti

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Aparajita Bharti, co-founder of YLAC India said that people were apathetic towards their fundamental duties in India and fear questioning leaders.

Chandigarh: India is uncomfortable about questioning its leaders, said Aparijita Bharti, co-founder of Young Leaders of Active Citizenship.

“There is a mai-baap paternal feeling towards the government,” she said.

Bharti was speaking at ThePrint’s Democracy Wall, a free speech campus initiative, held at Panjab University. Actor Nimrat Kaur, Rapper Sofia Ashraf, MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy, constitutor Meghnad and comedian Shyam Rangeela were also part of the event.

Talking about censorship and how comedians fear to mimic Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharti said self-censorship creates problems in an active democracy.

Getting rid of passive citizenship, and practicing incessant questioning is key to active citizenship, she said.

Hate speech

Bharti talked about the problem of hate speech on social media and the impunity it grants people because they can be anonymous. To counter this there should be more research-based platforms, she said.

A counter-narrative should be developed, said Bharti. The flood of hate speeches can no longer be countered by censorship, but by positive counter narratives to shift the nature of the conversation, she said.

Indian education system

“Our universities are more top to bottom, than bottom to top,” Bharti said, criticising how the education system is driven by the faculty and not by students.

“We end up studying what the top decides and never get to select what we should read. That’s where the system needs to change,” she said.

‘Jugaad’ culture

Bharti also spoke about people’s apathy towards fundamental duties. While the Constitution expects us to be the best versions of ourselves, the culture in India is ‘jugaad’ or make-do, she said.

Students in the country always have an alternative via guide books and help books instead of doing things the proper way. This is why there are no innovations in the country, unlike the United States, Bharti said.

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