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www.18minus.org +91 998 605 1097
The Prime Minister
7, Race Course Road
1 January 2015
Subject: Include the minors to create a truly democratic India!
Today, as India stands on the cusp of history, she is passing on the reigns of her
chariot to the rising generation with the paramount responsibility to evolve a
developing nation into a developed one.
My name is Chanakya Varma, and I am the cofounder of 18minus, an
organization that aims to provide a platform to the 500 million strong under-
eighteen population of India, which is often excluded from the citizen
engagement process, as we are merely ineligible to vote. 18minus believes that
each opinion contributes in its own small way to building a more inclusive and
Founded in March ’14, 18minus has taken up the two-pronged mission of
creating a nationwide awareness amongst the non-voting populace – whether it
is the “tabooed” topics of rape and homosexuality, to the legal nuances of filing
an RTI – and then taking the opinions and solutions proposed by this audience
forward. Today, 18minus is active in over six cities worldwide and has a core
team of over 40 high schoolers all over India and beyond. We strongly believe
that age is no bar when it comes to nation building.
Sir, given your Government’s emphasis on a Digital India, we feel that e-
governance can prove to be an extremely important opportunity for citizen
engagement. Today, India has the most number of teenagers registered on any
social network, and this number is only increasing. 18minus plans to use this
online presence in a way to strengthen democracy and reinforce the belief that
democracy is truly “of the people, for the people and by the people.”
We propose the expansion of Digital India to include a national political social
network – “Soch”, which would comprise only of “18minus” users. Here,
debates on trending topics of national importance will be curated in an attempt
a. create an awareness and induce a critical approach toward current
events so as to create a more active and aware populace;
b. identify who among the youth has the potential and aptitude to
contribute constructively towards better policy making.
The relative success of each user will be measured by his or her Change
Quotient (C.Q.). The aim of this will be to identify twenty thinkers for a new India,
www.18minus.org +91 998 605 1097
each of who will be mentored by a Union Ministry for a period of one fiscal year.
These twenty teenagers will represent the interest of the entire non-voting
population, and be members of the third house, the “Bal Sabha” – House of the
They would not only gain exposure to the inner workings of governance, but
also contribute back by providing a fresh perspective. I understand that this is
by no means an easy task, but I feel that if India – the world’s largest democracy
– takes this step forward, then we can truly say that politics has evolved since its
days in Ancient Greece.
With this is mind, 18minus, along with the Bangalore Political Action Committee
(B.PAC) co-hosted Jagriti 2014. With over sixty students taking part from all
across Bangalore, Jagriti was truly a convention of thinkers as students
discussed, dissected and resolved hotly debated issues, proving to the world
that they were indeed, old enough to make a difference. In Rajneeti, the Youth
Parliament, youngsters donned the robes of various parliamentarians and
discussed the pertinent issue of inclusion of mandatory sex education in high
school curriculum. The students drafted a comprehensive recommendation,
entailing the economic, biological, cultural and legal aspects of the agenda at
Another event was Sandesh, in which students had to write a letter to the
Prime Minister from certain perspectives, such as “an unborn girl child” or “a fish
swimming in the polluted waters of the Ganges.” The students displayed an
immense grasp of the problems plaguing society, but more importantly,
proposed solutions that were truly well beyond their years. I have attached the
scanned copies of the same and request them to peruse through them and give
your valuable feedback.
As Bangalore has seen from Jagriti, we children have a mature and focused
approach to policy and governance. Our opinions are certainly not frivolous or
baseless, but instead, well supported by thoughtful reason. India has a great
chance to leave a footprint on the international community as far as true
inclusivity is concerned. I, along with many other children, dream of leading the
country to new frontiers, and we at 18minus believe that Soch is the way
Cofounder and CEO
“Mahatma Gandhi looking at India 2014”
18minus Archives - Jagriti 2014 - Sandesh Winners