A popular online shopping portal uses kids as adults in their ad campaigns. The sight of actors, not even out of the single-digit age bracket, assaying adult roles is at once a powerful mnemonic and a comment on India’s great demographic shift.
According to the data released by the 2011 census recently, of the 725-million electorate of India, estimated by the Election Commission, 149.36 million are first-time voters — slightly more than Russia’s whole population.
Which brings us to the question — in the coming days, when five states go to polls, followed by the entire country, will these young voters speak up in their young-adult voices? Will those who agitated in support of the Jan Lokpal Bill and protested against the December 16 gang-rape come out to vote? Will the numerical clout bring in the much-needed change? Or will India’s youth be content to just tweet and tag?
According to the HT- MaRS Youth Survey 2013, carried out among 5,012 urban youth in the age group of 18-25 years across 14 state capitals and major towns, 75.4% of the youth are planning to vote.
In another survey conducted by India Today magazine, 47.2% of voters between 18 and 22 said they preferred Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, while 33.9% chose Rahul Gandhi. “It is the leader who defines the action of the party. There is a reason why Barack Obama is president of the United States,” says 22-year-old Jyoti Kanwatia, from Raipur.
Price rise and corruption are the issues worrying young India the most, and 76.3% said in the current economic situation employment was a major concern.
However, there are many who believe that all this might not translate into votes. Vivek Kumar, associate professor, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), points out the urban youth constitute a very small fraction of the Indian youth.
“The rural youth, which are illiterate and devoid of information, are in the majority, followed by the semi-literate youth. We cannot decide the fate of the elections on the basis of opinion polls which have not included these categories,” he adds.