Q) Critically examine the reasons for low election turnout among the young population in India. (150 words)
The recent elections conducted in various Indian states have witnessed abysmal low voter participation mainly among the young. Although, the voter turnout has been increased since the independence but the rate of increase is very slow & at the same time the voter apathy among youth has been rising. In the recent Bengal election 2021, though total voter numbers went up by 11.37% from 6.58 crore in 2016 to 7.33 crore in 2021, but youth under 30 numbers declined by 1.21% from 1.92 crore in 2016 to
1.90 crore in 2021.
The reasons for low voter turnouts in India are:
- Lack of political education & awareness/ Democratic Deficit:
- Although India has more than a 65% literacy rate but most of the Indians don’t have the right political knowledge & awareness about the political system.
- Lack of interest & enthusiasm:
- The lack of enthusiasm among is due to the need to stand in long queues to cast their votes.
- Prevalence of high disillusionment:
- Many voters especially young disillusioned about leaders & political parties. o They have an opinion that casting single won't change & matter anything.
- All candidates & parties are corrupted.
- Culture of Safe Seat residents:
- Many people who don’t vote are nonetheless interested in politics & even support a political party but don’t vote because they feel their vote would be wasted.
§ These people are live within constituencies of the stronghold of the majority party, which they don’t support & see less point in voting.
- The increasing migration of youth to abroad & different states for education & employment.
- Increasing pseudo options & culture of tweeting:
- Youth with the increase of internet usage has alienated from the real networking system and accultured the social networking system.
- The youth nowadays, consuming more & more information from the internet & reached a stage of instant social media-based legislations.
- Impact of immigrants:
- Several migrants are seasonal and voluntarily shift their bases that will impact voter turnout.
- Impact of work from home by IT employees & post-pandemic exodus to native places has adversely affected polling figures.
- Failure of polling staff in updating electoral rolls, as a result, many voters lost their name in the list.
- Failure to receive voters' slip & shifting of polling stations has created confusion & prompted many to abstain from voting.
But at the same time, India has been witnessing increasing total voter turnout due to:
- The gender gap between males & females in the voting pattern has been nearly bridged i.e. less than 1% gap exsist.
- The voting turnout among the elders above 80 age has been on rising contrary to youth decline
e.g. in the same Bengal 2021 election, the number of 80+ age group voters increased by 37% from 8 lakh (2016) to 11 lakh (2021).
- The voter turnout in rural areas has been steadily rising and outpacing the urban voting performance in every election.
- The election commission has to ramp up its awareness programs in innovative & reachable ways.
- All political parties have to actively participate in the voter enrollments mainly for first-time voters.
- The election commission has to take due consideration of the accessibility of the polling station.
- ECI has to train its staff for effective ways to prepare electoral roll &enrollments.
- There is a need for behavioral change and attitude among youth.
- The parties have to take diligence in selecting a candidate based on transparent criteria.
- All the companies & institutions should encourage their staff to participate in elections even for local bodies.
- The alternative recommendation of compulsory voting with adaptive nature has to be explored in India to overcome the problem of voter apathy.
The largest democracy in the world for 70 years has been successfully conducting free & fair elections. Though there are shortfalls in the process like voter apathy, it will be possible to overcome only when all the stakeholders of Indian democracy take responsibility & fulfill his/her duties. It’s high time for India to implement necessary election reforms to bridge the existing systemic issues.