Noting that there was undercurrent of unrest among youth who desired change, reform, good governance and jobs, Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva on Friday appealed to governments and decision makers to respond in a meaningful way to prevent a spillover of anger.

In her address at the opening session of Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday, Ms. Alva said that youth in India were among those in other developing societies who were clamouring for public attention and instant execution of ideas.

“Youth are impatient and they want change, reform, good governance, quality education, jobs, equity and a new social order that responds to their aspirations,” Ms. Alva said.

“Unless governments, the law makers and the administrative machinery, the courts, civil society and our families understand this undercurrent of unrest and respond in a meaningful way, the anger will spill over, and forcibly break down exploitative structures and systems,” she warned.

Expressing concern over the crime against women Ms. Alva told the audience that historically women in South Asia were worshiped as Goddess but has to today bears mistreatment from “womb to tomb”.

Ms. Alva asserted that for democracy, to be meaningful, has necessarily to be accompanied by gender equity.

“Women in India have come a long way since the days they were considered as domestic labour and production machines. They are asserting their individual identities and demanding a voice in decision making from Panchayats to Parliament, from the tribal villages to the growing cities,” Ms. Alva said.

Pointing out that even though women have entered the mainstream they continue to face violence from entrenched patriarchal social structures both inside and outside their homes. This, she said, was seen in the rise in “dangerous proportions” of honour killings, atrocities, molestation and rape.

Expressing concern that law givers and enforcers were themselves turning offenders and the aggressors she asked “Where are our norms of social behaviour going?”

“The rich get away, the powerful dictate terms, while the weak suffer and pay the price....How and when will our courts, police stations and prisons, respond to the cries of those who are oppressed and suppressed?” asked Ms. Alva. She said such questions required debate and answers.