The year 2004 has, as some people
would say, been “fully loaded”. Political events of seismic consequences were
scheduled and they did indeed take place. We at Young India anticipated the
historical significance of the political happenings this year and have written
about and organized events to understand two of them - Indian Parliamentary
Elections and the U.S. Presidential Election.
In the fall of 2003, Young India launched
an initiative, “Debate for Democracy: 2004”. Our goal was to galvanize the
democratic debate within the two democracies in an election year. And the
coinciding Indian and U.S. elections in 2004 offered a unique opportunity
to inform people and parliamentarians on both sides about each other’s politics.
Sharing of perspectives was a key
part of our effort and so it was appropriate that eminent Indian parliamentarian
Hon’ble Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar’s visit inaugurated our venture. His interactions
with policy-makers set the stage for our work. We organized Congressional
briefings both before (with Congressman Rush Holt [D, NJ-12]) and after (with
Congressman Jim McDermott [D, WA-7]) the momentous Indian Parliamentary Elections
in May. Our briefings were organized with enthusiastic bipartisan support
with the India Caucus co-sponsoring both events. Congressman Joe Wilson (R,
SC-2, Co-Chair India Caucus) was most encouraging and appreciative of our
efforts. These briefings brought out aspects of India and its politics that
are not ordinarily presented on the Hill.
We went beyond our strictly
political audience and put together a half-hour U.S. Presidential Election
special on TV Asia (the largest Indian satellite channel in North America)
on the eve of the Presidential vote. We also collaborated with Sahara TV in
India to present a half-hour special for an audience in India and 53 other
countries that was aired in primetime as the election was underway here in
the U.S. And as our parting gift to 2004 we present our special bulletin on
the American Presidential Election.
Over the coming year, Young
India will focus on several policy areas to enhance ties between the United
States and India. Enhancing transnational ties cannot end simply at more frequent
meetings between the leadership or representatives of India and the United
States. Our policy proposals aim to benefit the citizens of each country in
specific, meaningful ways, taking the best of both worlds and improving the
lives of people across various economic and social groups. This requires not
just the involvement of policy-makers and politicians. It requires input from
every direction, from activists to business owners to citizens like us. We
look forward to bringing you these policy proposals. Our
fundamental goal remains that all political parties in all democracies develop
a vision that focuses on strengthening communities and individuals by political
and economically empowering them. The parties must ensure that social
hurdles to such empowerment are duly addressed. Civil rights have to be the
centerpiece of all political undertakings. And once we fuse such a political
system with a citizenry that values its democratic responsibility, we will
begin to march towards the greatness that democracy has in store for us. We
conclude by sharing our belief in the goodness of hardworking men and women
on whose sweat and blood great nations have been built and hope that their
concerns and their challenges will continue to be the focus our political
We look to you, our readers, for support and assistance in reaching our goals.
Awareness and engagement
are the first steps in the process of Gandhian
Non-Violent Transformation. We didn't seek the success
or failure of any candidate, but instead sought success in highlighting
people-centric issues in a way that mobilizes citizens. We
believed that was a way to achieve the greater goal of meaningful
democracy through mass participation. 2004 presented itself
as a perfect opportunity to demonstrate this principle.
Not only did India
and the United States conduct their general elections in 2004, so
did Russia and the nascent democracy in Afghanistan and many other nations throughout the globe.
We hope the energy and enthusiasm generated by the 2004 election cycle will inspire us to continue our journey to
a new life of ourselves, our communities, our nation and the
world at large. We are all inter-connected today. Beyond county
lines, beyond districts, beyond states and even national boundaries.
The global family is here to stay.
Join us in
reclaiming our stake in our own democracies.