An estimated 149.36 million Indians voted, or are set to vote, for the first time in the 2014 parliamentary elections. HT talks to young voters from across the country to map the issues they care about, and understand how they view major events in the country’s recent history.
21, advertising executive, Mumbai
Why is this election crucial? This Lok Sabha election isn’t more or less important than any other election the country has seen. One distinguishing feature is the sensationalising of political figures this time, with terms such as ‘NaMo’ and ‘RaGa’ being thrown around.
The kind of leader who inspires you: Someone who is progressive. We live in a fast-changing, globalised and inter-connected world, and we need a leader who can keep up with all this change and provide solutions that match the modern context of our problems.
The most pressing issues facing the nation: Stabilising the job market for graduates, and improving the quality of education in the country. Poverty and the lack of infrastructure are the other important issues. Sanitation, education, good roads and railways are needed.
What she hopes for: I wanted to vote for a leader who could create a systematic and realistic plan for our overall economic and social development.
Views on the riots of 2002: While the issues are sensitive and people’s sentiments must be kept in mind, it is best if the country’s future leaders keep their vision trained on the future. I find that these issues keep cropping up, but no solution emerges.
20, BA student, Shimla
Why is this election crucial? We are living in a society where there’s no peace. This is also why we don’t have strong governance in the country. Everyone is talking about the need for change. I feel this election will decide the fate of the nation.
The kind of leader who inspires you: We have more politicians than leaders in our country today. Leaders like Kejriwal who talk about the issues affecting the aam aadmi, leaders like Modi who talk about controlling inflation and generating jobs and Rahul Gandhi who talks about changing the system inspire me. And yet, Kejriwal failed to deliver in Delhi, Rahul has failed to bring about a change in the last 10 years and Modi has a history in Gujarat and is seeking time to prove himself.
The most pressing issues facing the nation: Inflation is affecting every section of society today. Corruption and national security are two other issues that need attention. Key sectors such as education and health have been hit by inflation. A government that can control inflation will be able to solve many of the issues affecting India.
What she hopes for: I want to become an economist and if I get a chance I will contribute to the development of the country. I want a government that supports the youth and makes the best use of their potential for the development of the country.
Views on the riots of 2002: I was not born when the Babri Masjid was demolished and was very young in 2002. But I feel these issues still affect public sentiments and the government and leaders should learn a lesson from the past.
19, BCom student, Kolkata
Why is this election crucial? Elections are crucial because it gives you the chance to select the one you think is genuine and can be trusted with the responsibility of running the country.
The kind of leader who inspires you: I want a leader who has a vision and inspires others to rise up towards achieving that vision. He or she should be honest, determined and brave.
The most pressing issues facing the nation: The people who are complaining but not contributing towards making a change. We need the right man at the right place.
What he hopes for: It’s always about increasing living standards. And the best way we can always improve our living standard is through interaction and suggestion.
Views on the riots of 2002: I was very young at the time, but I don’t support what happened. I believe it could have been negotiated in a peaceful manner. The politics of religion divides people.
K Praveen Kumar
20, BTech student, Hyderabad
Why is this election crucial? This is the time for change. Most of those who are in the UPA government seem to be corrupt.
The kind of leader who inspires you: A leader of action. Narendra Modi and TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu are such leaders.
The most pressing issues facing the nation: Scams.
What he hopes for: If the new government can remove half the corruption we have today, I’d be happy.
Views on the riots of 2002: I think the riots need no further discussion.
23, BTech student, Patna
Why is this election crucial? This year’s election sees a large number of youth voting for the first time. It is also different as there is an opportunity to choose a different prime minister. The one we have had for the past 10 years rarely speaks or acts.
The kind of leader who inspires you: A leader who is genuine and frank. I find these qualities in Rahul Gandhi. He will be the best leader for ‘Young India’.
The most pressing issues facing the nation: Inflation. Reservation in education is also another issue. I believe people should get a chance to prove themselves on the basis of merit.
What he hopes for: I want a better PM who can remove inflation and do away with the policy of reservation. I also want a PM who is able to take steps to attain global recognition for the country’s colleges and institutions.
Views on the riots of 2002: They should have never happened. Both threatened the notion of a ‘secular’ India and pitted people against each other. Violence is never the answer for anything. But, that did not influence my voting.
20, MA student, Lucknow
Why is this election crucial? The 16th Lok Sabha elections have the highest number of young voters.
The kind of leader who inspires you: Rahul Gandhi is the most able leader as he represents collective leadership.
The most pressing issues facing the nation: Employment and good education.
What he hopes for: India to become a strong economy and place for the development of science and technology.
Views on the riots of 2002: 2002 was a sad event. The minority continues to live under threat in Gujarat. The Babri Masjid demolition made way for the BJP in UP in the 1990s. The voters in UP are mature now.
19, BA student, New Delhi
Why is this election crucial? All elections are crucial, but these polls have been particularly divisive. It’s important to vote for a healthy democracy. For me, they hold a special importance because I am voting for the first time.
The kind of leader who inspires you: The kind who fulfils the promises he or she makes. Someone who works for people’s welfare rather than personal gain and power. There are hardly any such leaders in the fray, though.
The most pressing issues facing the nation: Corruption and communalism are the main issues. For me, women’s empowerment and safety is also an important issue on which parties need to deliver. .
What she hopes for: After the elections, I hope for a secular government which works for both development and social welfare.
Views on the riots of 2002: Only the 2002 riots happened in my lifetime. But hearing and reading about 1984 and the Babri masjid has made me think these incidents are part of the darkest days in our country’s history. It’s upto us to ensure that these incidents are not repeated.
Furquan Ameen Siddiqui
24, Entrepreneur, Ranchi
Why is this election crucial? Elections are the pillars of any democratic country. Any election is crucial because it gives the common people a chance to be involved in the process of creating a better nation.
The kind of leader who inspires you: BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. He is the only politician who talks and thinks about the country’s all-round development. It is shameful that most of our leaders are only concerned about their vote banks and are busy playing caste politics.
The most pressing issues facing the nation: Uncontrolled flow of black money in the country. Black money is the root cause of corruption in India. We desperately need a body that can control the flow of black money here; the IT department needs to be strengthened.
What he hopes for: Excercising our right to vote will help us build a nation that is free from communal tensions. I hope to vote for a government that advocates equality, irrespective of caste, community, sex or gender. A nation free from communal worries, where every person is equal, is more likely to prosper than a nation stuck with internal tensions.
Views on the riots of 2002: It is time to forget the communal riots that have taken place in the country in the past and move towards a better, peaceful and prosperous India. The 2002 Gujarat riots and the Babri Masjid incidents do bother me. But we cannot sit with our past and play the blame game. It is time we stop debating over incidents of communal disharmony; these debates are perpetual.
21, student, Indore
Why is this election crucial? We need elections so that the voice of the people can be heard. It’s a proper channel and everyone who is declared eligible should be a part of it.
The kind of leader who inspires you: I am really inspired by Narendra Modi. He has brought development in Gujarat and can do so for the entire country.
The most pressing issues facing the nation: Development and inflation. Also, better employment opportunities for the youth, as there are hardly any opportunities for people in smaller cities.
What she hopes for: I want development and the betterment of the people to be the judging criteria always. There should be security for women and better laws to empower them. Development, education and security are the basic necessities for everybody here.
Views on the riots of 2002: I don’t know what the incident was, but from what I have heard and read in the reports, I feel that we should forget the past. I don’t care whether a mosque gets built there or a temple, it’s of no use to us.
20, B Tech student, Chennai
Why is this election crucial? It’s crucial to vote for change, a change from the corrupt ways that have destroyed India.
The kind of leader who inspires you: Narendra Modi. Look at the way Gujarat has developed. If he becomes the PM, we can expect faster development.
The most pressing issues facing the nation: Poverty, unemployment and inflation.
What she hopes for: An India that is on a faster growth track, where every able-bodied person is guaranteed a job.
Views on the riots of 2002: Yes, the Gujarat riots and the Babri masjid demolition are blots on the history of the nation. People from both communities should have waited for a negotiated settlement approved by the courts. But we must move on.