Recently, the Election Commission announced that it expects the voting percentage to touch 70 per cent or more; a 12% increase to the turn out in the 2009 elections.
90,000 of these voters will be between the age of 18 and 22 — this will be their first election as electors.
An overwhelming 814 million people will be eligible to vote, according to Chief Election Commissioner, VS Sampath.
In an independent study in 2012, the International Labour Organization revealed the following demographics:
India has the largest population of youth in the entire world — 66 per cent of the total population in the country is below the age of 35.
Nearly 40 per cent of the Indian population is aged 13 to 35 years.
The median age in India in 2010 was just 25.2 years, compared to 34.5 years in China.
These statistics outline the same idea that has been on every politician and political parties’ mind for some time now; the youth will be in a position of huge influence this time round.
Prime Ministerial aspirators Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi have both campaigned for the youth vote bank; Gandhi through a series of television advertisements depicting youth workers from the INC, and Modi through his rallies.
The youth is synonymous with the need for change in this country. Whether it was the Nirbhaya tragedy, or the Lokpal campaign; it was the youth who took to the streets protesting for their rights.
And considering the rate of population growth — the youth will become a majority in the electoral college for the next few decades.
It is important then, that the youth understands its responsibility and makes an informed choice while voting. They need to be politically aware so that they elect a representative that does not give them a need to protest.
But this much power in the hands of the youth can have disadvantages as well.
Two-time Congress MP from the constituency of South Mumbai and the Minister for IT, Communications and Shipping; Milind Deora said at a recent seminar, “ When conditions do not change quickly, the youth get disenchanted and disappointed — this is a global phenomenon. This is also why politics comes across as a filthy profession to the youth; the promises made, however unrealistic, are not fulfilled.”
To counter this, the youth needs to be aware when these promises are made; to gauge if they can be fulfilled or not. And the political parties need to propagate an agenda which is achievable; simply putting across a young leader with a few advertisements supporting the youth will hardly convince the electorate, especially the youth, who are today educated and aware.
The Election Commission has also been making several initiatives such as Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation which has been encouraging the citizens to vote for the impending Lok Sabha Elections.
Ultimately, the power needs to be exercised by the youth this time round; even if it is the ‘None of the above’ option, so that their voice is heard and they can make the necessary changes for their future.