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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid