India’s youth is alternating between diplomacy and indecision prior to the 2014 elections. More than half of India’s population is under the age of 25, with 65% of the population under 35.
According to the HT-MaRS Youth Survey 2013, 15% of the population in the 18-25 age group "can’t say" which party will get their vote.
What’s more, while 75% will exercise their franchise, 52% say they would be better off in a dictatorship which they see as a system of governance "to get things done". They also describe themselves as apolitical to avoid being slotted a Congress or a BJP supporter.
Vasundhara, an ad worker from Delhi and a former Congress supporter, is unwilling to commit her preference for the 2014 polls.
"Someone else deserves a chance," that’s the most she will say. Rua Ghosh, a corporate worker, for instance, lays the blame for "inflation, educational loans being higher than car loans" on Congress’ door.
She may vote for a Narendra Modi-led BJP but is unsure about his democratic credentials. "It’s a case of andhon mein kana raja (choosing the lesser evil). I need at least six months to decide," she says.
Such hesitation actually points to an unsettling trend – for today’s youth, Right or Left or being a Moderate is a position that can be adopted or discarded so long as "Development", or their class interest is served.
This is why though the percentage of moderate youth, at 42.6% is higher than right-wing view holders (24.7%), 52.1% feel they would be “better off in a dictatorship”.
How do all these things square up?
Survey: your vote can make all the difference, will you vote?
"Democracy is part of our identikit so we believe in democracy for democracy’s sake. No 22-year-old will say she/he is voting for Modi, s/he will say the vote is for development. They want professional guarantees, they are not worrying about communal riots," said sociologist Shiv Vishwanathan.
Isn’t that a paradox? Right-wing passions alone do not lead to right-wing politics. It is possible to be a moderate person who is outraged by riots and fake encounters and yet not vote in an authoritarian government ‘that delivers.’
Some youth are, however, saying ‘No’ to elections altogether. Of those who said ‘No,’ 30.9% said they don’t care and elections are a waste of time.
Social scientist Ashish Nandy understands this indifference differently. "Not caring means they are still making up their mind. This is a generation in search of an ideology."