Steeped in culture, history and tradition, growing up in Uttar Pradesh was like a dream, the best of times. But things have changed over the past few years and the nature of politics has taken a turn for the worse. Did our parents face Islamophobia, rabid casteism or gender discrimination to the extent that we see now? Our generation and the next unfortunately are taking discrimination, religious bigotry, violence and lynching as part of life.
But not all changes have been dismal or depressing. Our generation is speaking up about things that were ignored for a long time. Who would have thought that a ‘Pride Parade’ could be organised in conservative Lucknow? People did take to the streets to fight against CAA and NRC; they did stand up against the government at the cost of being sent to jail. People were ready to embrace police brutalities and indignities heaped on them as a result of their actions against the government.
An increasing number of youngsters, you will find, are opting to report from the ground. They are embracing new technology, flooding social media with their concerns and footage of what they see. YouTube channels are mushrooming as youth are anxious to show you the mirror, the reality on the ground, utilise whatever resources they have and voice concerns of the people. This generation should be proud.
But when I graduated just seven years ago, there was a serious lack of opportunities in the social sector. As someone who always wanted to bring about change in society, not too many innovative ideas were being explored in the state, I realised. I tried looking for work and for people to guide me but was disappointed, and so I moved out of the state for post-graduation.
But it’s not just people who aspired to work in the social sector who decided to move out. Uttar Pradesh has focused and invested so much on its politics over a long period of time, that educational reforms got sidelined. Students who wanted to explore new areas, higher studies, enrich themselves left their hometowns for metropolitan cities. And frankly, I’m not even sure if I’d like to return to Lucknow now, especially for work.