Young, innovative, creative. These men and women are partners in the experiment that is India.
He can fix broken dreams, fulfil betrayed promises, satisfy frustrated aspirations. He can fill the vacuum left by the ancient demons of community and class. He is young, as is fitting for a nation 65 per cent of whose population is under 35 and 150 million of whose 814 million voters will exercise their ballot for the first time in the Lok Sabha polls this year.
He is Mustafa Hashmi, whose 21-year-old being was so torn by the sight of a man scrounging for food in a drain that he devoted himself to giving succour to those who can’t afford even one meal a day. She is Pankhuri Shrivastava, 24, who, wiser from her own unpleasant experiences, resolved to make moving homes in the Maximum City a less dreadful prospect; her resolve taking the shape of India’s first free roommate search engine. She is Deepti Doshi, 32, who is helping extend the benefits of legal and electoral processes to urban India’s marginalised masses. They can make only a small, imperceptible difference by themselves. But all of them together can, through their own efforts and by inspiring others, take India closer to fulfilling the promise of the Midnight Hour.
“Indian society has always been blessed with people seeking unconventional modes of being creative and transformative. Think of the extraordinary individuals in the Bhakti movement, the freedom struggle or the post-1960s social movements,” says Chandan Gowda, who teaches sociology at Azim Premji University in Bangalore. Through creative acts of innovation and dissent that expand democracy, these Young Yearners are partners in the ongoing experiment that is India.