By Cearet Sood
Edited by, Anandita Malhotra, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
The recently concluded elections in Haryana and Maharashtra were special for me, they marked my second milestone, first being joining Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi in July 2014. As a resident of Gurgaon, Haryana, I had my voter ID card issued a month back. Presumably, I was very excited for the upcoming elections, mainly because there was a transition in me from a child to an adult, who could participate in the nation building process. I had given a lot of thought to whom to vote for, seen their campaigning and understood their policies. 15 October arrived, a bit nervous at first, I went to the polling booth, which was located very near to my house. When I entered the building, it seemed like my entire colony had turned up there, it was so crowded! It was all intimidating to me at first, though I was happy to see that the turnout had been so large, we have the figure at 76% which is at an all time high. Standing in the queue for a long time, my turn finally came. After casting my vote, the wait seemed worth it. Seeing my finger getting inked indeed made me proud, it gave me the power to choose my government.
This made me think about the difference in the time when I first voted and the time when my parents first voted, which was about two decades back. Back then, votes were solicited more on the basis of loyalty, religion, caste and community than on other issues. People gave little thought to the credentials to the candidates they were voting for, about the leaders who governed them and ran the country. There never used to be much discussion about the candidates, their background, their achievements, their policies, manifestos of the parties. Families used to vote for members of their community, which influenced the youth to also vote for them. The power of the youth was not exploited enough, which proved to be a sort of a setback.
Indian politics, however, has come a long way. The face of the Indian electorate is changing, young people are becoming more responsible and concerned about the political situation of our country. The Election Commission places the figures of the youngsters between 18 and 23 at 4.87 corers, which is around 6% of the population eligible to vote. This in itself shows the immense power the youth has to change the fate of our country, which we saw in the 2014 general elections. Our generation also finds networking and communication easier than the previous generation. As a consequence, our voting style has also changed. Now, when a person votes for a particular party/ candidate, she focusses on the candidate’s ambitions, ideas, policies and background rather than blindly following her family members or people of her community. The other part of our electorate has also started to take informed decisions. They’ve become more discerning and understand the issues impacting their constituencies, states and the country better now than before. They also vote for candidates who provide solutions to issues like employment for youth, infrastructure, law and order and also hold them accountable once they are elected. There has been a shift from caste based vote back politics towards technology enabled and social media empowered politics. Social media has bridged the communication gap and has helped us to know things better in general. The three giants, Facebook, Twitter and Google played a major part in the 2014 general elections. With more than a 100 million users in India, Facebook helped the political parties to campaign effectively and efficiently. Twitter had around 49 million election related conversations during the polls. All this created a buzz which helped the candidates a lot in conveying their goals and ideologies.
The present spells hope for the future. We’re voting for leaders with a modern and a positive outlook. Ones with futuristic thinking, ones whom we believe will bring about a change. Ones like Narendra Modi, our present Prime Minister, who has proved time and again that he is a brilliant leader with a very fresh approach. We’re free to choose the people we want to, we’re not bound by community, caste or religion. Our democracy is changing, slowly but surely. We’re moving towards development, our future politics will help our country immensely. We’ll have an increase in the education levels, women will form a major part of our work force, there’ll be even better technology. With India being already on the path, these goals do not seem to be far off. Unlike our previous generation, we will turn out to be better voters, better decision makers and more importantly, better facts of change. I am glad that I am a part of a generation that votes for change.
Cearet Sood is a first year student studying Economics at Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University. She likes to spend her time by reading books, whose genres range from social drama to thrillers to economics or by brushing up her general knowledge. She is a curious person, who wants to know more and more. She loves to participate in quizzes and paper presentations, where she gets different perspectives and views. She’s a person who doesn’t talk much. An introvert, who doesn’t quite fit in, but she doesn’t want to.