Young voters in India are concerned about communalism, corruption, and unemployment

The voter turnout among the country’s youth will play a significant role in the polls. But what are the issues that will shape these votes?
Young voters speak to TNM
Young voters speak to TNM
Written by:

For 18-year-old Skandha Dev, a first-time voter from Kerala, communal disharmony and women’s safety will be two of her major considerations when she votes on April 26. Referring to the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and Manipur violence, she says she would prefer a government that will make everyone feel “included.” 

Skandha is one of the 18 million first-time voters in the 2024 Lok Sabha election which is currently underway. In an attempt to understand what shapes the political choices of India’s youngsters, TNM spoke to several young voters and asked what their concerns were. Some of the major worries raised by the youths are communal violence, attacks against women, unemployment, and corruption. 

“We are living in a country where women were paraded naked and publicly assaulted in Manipur. Violence against women is increasing every day and I want a government that takes adequate measures against such crimes,” says Skandha. She adds that she will choose the candidate based on the constitutional values held by the political party the individual belongs to. “Because ultimately, the decisions are made collectively.” 

Secularism for the win

“I think it's a scary time for our nation. From the CAA to the Prime Minister’s statement about Muslims in a recent speech, shows how India is losing its secular values,” said Namra Syed, another young voter from Kerala. “The Constitution provides religious freedom to the citizens, and it separates the state from any religion since our country is home to diverse religious groups. But acts like CAA, which discriminates against Muslim migrants, violate our constitutional values. An election is the only way the country will still be democratic,” she adds. 

Dattatraya Datta from Assam says he opposes CAA because it affects the identity of the Assamese people. “For the rest of India, CAA is a different scenario. But in Assam, it is the question of identity. The implementation of the Act might lead to an influx of Bangladeshi migrants into the scene, which would result in further depletion of jobs to the natives,” he says. 

India is the largest democracy in the world, and the Constitution declares the country as a “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic, but I don’t think so anymore,” says Abhirami Nair, a journalism student. “We are heading towards a point where the nation is no longer a socialist, sovereign, secular, democracy. Be it the celebration of a place that witnessed communal riots or the targeted hate against the minority, I will definitely keep these in mind while I vote.” 

Displeased with the mixup of religion in politics, Vaishnavi says she will go for None Of The Above (NOTA). The first-time voter from Karnataka thinks that it doesn’t come from a single party. “People should learn to keep religion separate from politics,” she says. 

Vivek Sangcho, a native of Arunachal Pradesh, also believes that discrimination based on religion threatens the democratic values of our country, and it is important for youth to be politically aware. “Many lack understanding of societal issues and blindly join parties. This leads to uninformed participation, allowing corrupt leaders to manipulate them. With awareness, youth can identify problems, make informed decisions, and choose wisely,” he says. He believes that his vote is a tool for holding officials accountable and demanding the necessary reforms to create a fairer and inclusive society.

More jobs, less corruption

“I have seen my seniors, they are not able to get a stable job. That worries me,” says Sai Teja, who is getting ready to vote for the first time from Andhra Pradesh. 

Unemployment has been a critical issue that has worried the country’s youth for a while now. According to the government’s Periodic Labour Force Survey, the country hit the highest level of unemployment in 45 years during the year 2017-18.  Even though the official unemployment rate was falling from 2018, educated youth continue to suffer and this has now become an election issue. 

“Most people want to go out of India, and I feel that we as a nation need more employment opportunities. People prefer moving because they want to be well-settled, which they think is not possible in our country. And even people who are employed aren't happy with the pay,” Abhirami says.

Corruption-free India is another pressing topic discussed among youngsters. With the reveal of Electoral Bond data, the details of huge political donations are accessible to everyone, and the voters who examined the data say it’s “problematic.” 

“For instance, there is a company called Vedanta Ltd. It is under scrutiny for bending Indian energy laws. A company like that funding our political parties and the leaders we are choosing, is problematic,” says Dattatraya. He adds that companies like Future Gaming and Hotel Services which have been on the run from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are funding political parties as an easy way out to evade raids. It brings forward a big question on the nature of the donations to these parties. 

“Among the BJP and Congress,” says Navya Modaliar from Karnataka, “who I want to come to power will be BJP, because I find the party representing India at a global level.” She also adds that the developments brought by a candidate and their previous contributions are some of the categories she will consider while voting. 

Water on priority

The young voters are also concerned about their regional issues, and they seek a candidate who will represent their constituency better on the national level. Karnataka voter Srishti R Jois says that she would choose the candidate who cared more about north Karnataka too, and not just Bengaluru. The ongoing discussion about the water crisis is getting attention just because it is happening in the capital city, according to her. “But north Karnataka has been struggling to access water for many years and politicians have not cared about it even after many complaints. Even though there are some solutions given, they are not properly implemented in north Karnataka,” she says.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute