Srinjoy Bose - "Youth Haven’t Really Been Taken Care of by Anyone, Whether It Is the Afghan Government or the International Community"

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Jul 15, 2015
by Rachitaa Gupta and Stuart Milne
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Srinjoy Bose - "Youth Haven’t Really Been Taken Care of by Anyone, Whether It Is the Afghan Government or the International Community"

Srinjoy Bose, a PhD scholar at Australian National University talks about the role of social media in empowering youth of Afghanistan Srinjoy Bose, PhD scholar from Australian National University during group discussion at Salzburg Global Seminar

As urbanization accelerates around the world, the percentage of under-25s is crossing 50% in several developing countries. Almost 70% of Afghanistan’s population is below the age of 25 years. Providing this young population with the resources for a new generation of healthy, productive, and empowered young women and men is one of Afghanistan’s core challenges.

At the session Youth, Economics, and Violence: Implications for Future Conflict, Srinjoy Bose, a PhD scholar from the Australian National University, spoke of the importance of youth movements in the social and political landscape of Afghanistan and social media as a tool in mobilizing the youth, especially during the recent elections.

“Youth haven’t really been taken care of by anyone, whether it is the Afghan government or the international community.” He spoke of the lack of youth policy until 2013, which was more than a decade into the intervention. 

The irresponsibility for this, according to Bose, lies with both the Afghanistan government and the international community. But in past few years, the Afghan youth have started organizing to make a significant difference. Most of the youth in youth groups, he said, come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors and are newly active. Typically, they work independent of parties or formal alliances due to general distrust of the party system.

“Political parties have tended to be looked down upon in Afghanistan’s recent history, possibly because they contributed to violence and instability, particularly during the civil war years.” This created a lack of youth wings or parties, and this vacuum led to recent civil society movements.

He acknowledged that most of this change is being led by the urban youth, but also emphasized the fact that these change makers have reached out to their peers in different cities and rural areas throughout the country. Despite the progress, Bose drew attention to the complexity of the Afghan youth. They still have to contend with the urban and rural unemployed young Afghans who are often manipulated and susceptible to community pressures and political actors.

Bose also spoke of social media in the lives of Afghan youth, which he said has happened largely due to a good telecommunication industry in the country which has boomed since the invasion.

“The substance of Facebook discussions is phenomenal and so sophisticated. Sometimes there is banter, and sometimes it degenerates into name calling. But so far, it has been very sophisticated. Afghan youth are very educated and aware of political concepts, concepts that we treasure in the West.” He spoke of Facebook as an important tool for for interaction and mobilization, especially for those facing constant violence and unrest.

Still, many factions of political parties and parliamentarians have raised concern over the growing tension and unrest between minorities due to the use of mobile phones and Facebook.

“Some politicians and parliamentarians have complained about Facebook, that it has heightened ethnic tension. There is this feeling amongst some Afghans that Facebook has facilitated ethnic divides during the election campaigns.”

On a global level, Bose said that Salzburg Global has been a good platform to understand the limitations of working with a diverse group of people helping youth live their lives at the margins of economy and violence in different parts of the world.

Sharing the personal experiences of working in their individual fields allowed the participants to have tough conversation about the definition of violence, limitations of the scope of their work, and the lessons they could learn from each other. Bose credited this as the biggest achievement of the session.


The session Youth, Economics & Violence: Implications for Future Conflict is part of the multi-year series Designing a Social Compact for the 21st Century and is being held in partnership with the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New YorkRead more here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/549