News / Asia

Indian Youth Increase Involvement in 2014 Polls

Students work at the electrical department of the Industrial Training Institute in Beed, about 350 km (220 miles) east of Mumbai, June 28, 2012.
Students work at the electrical department of the Industrial Training Institute in Beed, about 350 km (220 miles) east of Mumbai, June 28, 2012.
Anjana Pasricha
In India, an estimated 120 million first-time voters will be eligible to cast ballots in elections starting next month. In one of the world’s youngest countries, those under 25 are increasing their political involvement as they seek to turn the spotlight on issues critical to them - jobs and development.

In 2011, Sanjay Kharwar, an engineering student at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, squatted in a public park in the heart of the capital along with tens of thousands of other young people taking part in massive civil society anti-corruption protests. 

This year, Kharwar will go to the polls for the first time. But he wants to do more than just cast his ballot. He wants to play an active role in giving his country a new direction.  

“In my generation we are not thinking of caste or region, people like us are going away from old philosophy of caste, creed, we are thinking of economic development, this is good for the country,” he said.

Kharwar has enrolled as a volunteer for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party because he feels its prime ministerial candidate is best suited to address issues that matter most to young people: good governance, faster growth and jobs. 

He is among thousands of college students and young professionals signing up to campaign for political parties across the country, whether for the ruling Congress Party, the BJP or a host of smaller parties vying for the 543 elected seats in parliament in elections starting April 7. 

India has the highest number of young people in the world - about half its 1.2 billion people are under 26. They were given scant attention by political parties until they emerged on the forefront of two of the biggest civil society campaigns seen in recent times: the anti-corruption movement, and the spontaneous protests following the brutal gang rape of a young student in Delhi in December 2012. 

Those protests prompted political parties to take notice of India’s young. And as they gear up for the polls, the parties are trying to mobilize these voters. 

FILE - Rahul Gandhi, India's ruling Congress party vice president, during a road show ahead of the 2014 general elections, Feb. 26, 2014.FILE - Rahul Gandhi, India's ruling Congress party vice president, during a road show ahead of the 2014 general elections, Feb. 26, 2014.
x
FILE - Rahul Gandhi, India's ruling Congress party vice president, during a road show ahead of the 2014 general elections, Feb. 26, 2014.
FILE - Rahul Gandhi, India's ruling Congress party vice president, during a road show ahead of the 2014 general elections, Feb. 26, 2014.
The Congress Party hopes that the youthful image of its lead campaigner, 43-year-old Rahul Gandhi, will attract the young in a country where politics has been dominated by much older people. Gandhi has been pushing for younger candidates and wooing young voters in his rallies.

The BJP hopes its strong focus on development will carry the day with young voters.

“There is unemployment. There is lack of investment. There is inflation. Therefore people want change. There is a yearning for change …and it that way we are targeting the youth of the country,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, a top leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

However, political analysts say the two main parties have failed to address the fundamental issues that matter to young people with concrete programs.

Sanjay Kumar at the Center for Developing Societies in New Delhi, who has authored a book on Indian youth in politics, says political parties are only paying “lip service to the young”.  

“In order to mobilize young voters, what they are doing now is to give more tickets to younger people and that is not enough to mobilize young voters in favor of a party," he said. "They don’t realize they need to do address the interests, issues, demands of young voters, how they are going to solve the problem of unemployment, of better facilities of education. No political parties have paid attention to the aspirations, anxieties, of young voters in the country.”

Kumar says compared to a decade ago, young people - both men and women - are showing more interest in politics.  

“I would say young voters across localities, they have started participating more and young voters across gender. That is the change we have seen,” he said.

While some of the young volunteers for political parties have political ambitions, others like Kharwar do not. Still, they are willing to take time out to campaign for their chosen parties as they organize campus meetings, use social media aggressively and hop on to crowded metro trains to make their point of view heard in the 2014 polls.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid