- POSTED: 02 Jan 2014 19:24
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India's politicised youngsters will soon be voting for the first time in the 2014 general elections. While major political parties still rely on caste and religion to get votes, the new Indian voters want jobs and education, and said they will vote for parties making those promises.
NEW DELHI: Agitational politics minus its usual accompanying violence has made a comeback in India.
Young Indian voters took to the streets last year after a brutal gang rape of a paramedical student forced the government to legislate an anti-rape law.
These same, politicised youngsters will soon be voting for the first time in this year's general elections.
It was in the eighties that famous Indian film star Amitabh Bachchan portrayed the Angry Young Man -- fighting the establishment, fighting for the rights of the poor and downtrodden.
Then came economic liberalisation, and urban India saw the anger subside as income levels increased and young Indians had less to complain about.
But the anger resurfaced in 2011 when hundreds of thousands joined an anti-corruption movement spearheaded by villager turned crusader Anna Hazare.
These young men and women were angry about rising prices, shrinking job market and rampant corruption.
Then in 2012, the rape of a paramedical student who was named Nirbhaya, or the Fearless one, by those who came out on the streets protesting against government apathy over safety of women, was a major watershed.
Social scientist Dr George Mathew said: "Anna Hazare's movement -- here is a platform so let us go and support. This Nirbhaya case, this is happening in my neighbourhood, in my region, in my place… Here is a symbolic action where we can go and do so this new trend in youth… they are thinking they are young civilisation. And I am very happy that India is a young India, young people are strong, and numerically our number of young people is very high."
Political parties have woken up to the fact that there will be about 150 million first time voters in the 2014 elections.
And these young men and women are not buying into the rhetoric of old style politics.
The phenomenal rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), or the Common Man's party, in just one year is being perceived as a direct consequence of major political parties having ignored the voice of the people for too long.
The AAP has young professionals and students in their cadres, eager to make politics more people-friendly.
Right to Information Act activist Salim Baig said: "Today every person with political aspirations wants to be like Arvind Kejriwal. They see him as their idol and want to follow in his footsteps. Today every villager who earlier couldn't even read a newspaper watches political debates on television. He has realised which leader is dishonest and who is working for the right cause."
While major political parties still rely on caste and religion to get votes, the new Indian voters want jobs and education, and said they will vote for parties making those promises.
The corruption and arrogance that accompanies governance are major reasons for the anger of the youth in the country.
The political parties that ignore this anger will end up paying a price, a price that was evident in the recently concluded provincial elections in India.