If you think talking to kids about politics is pointless, that they would rather watch cartoons or play games on their tablet, think again. Children have an innate curiosity and intelligence. And talking to them about politics helps them make sense of the world they live in. Here’s how we can educate our kids on politics:
The many different forms of government:
It helps to begin by explaining the different kinds of government. Monarchy is the earliest form of government where one person has all the power. Aristocracy which in modern times is termed Oligarchy or Plutocracy is where only a select few have all the power by right of birth or wealth. Democracy is where every citizen has equal power. And Anarchy is the absence of a system of government.
If say in a group of friends only one person has the power to decide what to play, it’s Monarchy. If only a few of the friends have the power to decide what to play, it’s oligarchy. If everybody together has the power to decide what to play, it’s democracy. And if no decision is arrived at and chaos follows, it’s anarchy.
The inner workings of democracy
India is a democracy which means every five years elections are held in India where each and every citizen over the age of 18 casts their vote. The political party who gets the most number of votes wins and forms a government.
But why are elections held every five years, your little one asks. It’s like when Thanos in Avengers gets all the five infinity stones and therefore infinite power. He inevitably misuses that power. Likewise if a single person or government is given infinite power, it can be misused against the nation and its people. Therefore in India every government remains in power for five years only after which once again elections happen.
Inform kids about the major political parties and their symbols and smaller political parties. There are about a thousand political parties in India, but only six of them are national parties. They are BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) with Lotus as their party symbol, INC (Indian National Congress) with a hand as their symbol, BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) with an elephant as their symbol, NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) with a clock as their symbol, CPI (Communist Party of India) with Ears of Corn and Sickle as their symbol and CPI-M (Communist Party of India Marxist) with hammer, sickle and star as their party symbol. The rest are state or regional parties playing a pivotal role in Indian politics.
To Debate or not to debate
Watching a few debates together can be a great way to expose children to different political opinions. Explain a little about the topic that’s being discussed and what the two sides are saying. Watching debates or listening or reading about them will not only enable kids to stay informed about the current issues but also equip them to look at the bigger picture.
Historical Tid Bits
Everybody loves a good story and history is nothing but. Tell kids about the formation of the oldest party of India, the Indian National Congress. Talk about its stalwart leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jawaharlal Nehru representing the party. Talk about the origins of Bhartiya Janata Party and its great leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Talk about the leaders of other nations and their forms of government. Former President of America Barack Obama, his successor Donald Trump, his rival in the Presidential race Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel Chancellor of Germany, Xi Jinping President of China, Vladimir Putin President of Russia are some of the prominent leaders you can speak about. Mention the things you appreciate about them and the impact their decisions have.
In conclusion remember what Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” So the next time you are reading a newspaper or watching a debate, make sure to include your kid in the discussion. Because Knowledge is power. Let’s empower our kids by making them aware of politics and continuing the conversation throughout life.