Youngsters are seen as harbingers of change the world over. There is no reason why the situation should be any different closer home. Many feel if all first-time voters exercise their franchise, it could make a big difference in the seven-phase state assembly elections from February 8-March 3. All political calculations could go haywire as GenNow roots for development and sees no merit in caste-based politics. This mood was palpable at the National Post Graduate College whose students are taking keen interest in every development related to the elections. This is a fry cry from the situation a few years ago when the 'paan'-chewing image of typical cowbelt politicians put many of the youth off. Moreover, they dubbed politicians corrupt and mischievous. But that aversion to all things political seems to have gone.
New leaders brings hope
The young lot, which will vote for the first time in the assembly elections, is inspired by the new crop of netas like Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Varun Gandhi, Jitin Prasada, Milind Deora, Akhilesh Yadav, Jayant Chaudhary and many others.
"With the advent of young leaders, the rules of the game seem to have changed. The parties should give more tickets to the young leaders as they bring more energy and understand the needs of youngsters," says Rohit Kumar, an undergraduate.
Do away with reservation
The students of National College feel reservation discourages merit. Pradeep Kumar says reservation has created an imbalance in the society. "Most of the students getting the quota benefits are those whose parents have already benefited from the system. It is very rare that the students from the economically poor sections get these benefits," he feels. The 20-year-old adds the government should withdraw caste-based reservation. Instead, it should extend financial assistance to the economically weaker sections, he suggests.
Anna's lokpal a must
The students voice their opinion freely on corruption too. They feel social activist Anna Hazare has done a yeoman's service to the nation by pressing for a jan lokpal. "We need to support him in a big way. Sadly, people did not turn up in Mumbai to do so. It was a big mistake and has dented Team Anna's confidence," says Bhavna Joshi.
The students in the state capital believe every individual should strive to eradicate corruption. Abhinav Pandey agrees and says, "it is more of an individual battle."
Bring down prices
Girls want the new government to control soaring prices. Ekta says: "Nowadays parents are forced to give at least Rs 100 a day to their wards as pocket expenses. Everything has become dearer and the poor are the worst affected." Sapna Singh says it has now become very difficult to make ends meet if a family has only one breadwinner.
Give affordable education
The students feel the quality of higher education must improve and everybody should have easy access to it. "Higher education has become unaffordable ever since the government opened its doors to private universities," says Puneet.
Development, a poll issue
The first-time voters will vote for development. Caste does not figure in their scheme of things. What the candidates have done for their constituencies in the last five years matters the most, says Aachal, another undergraduate.