“Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” This quote by Margaret Mead serves as motivation for those who believe in the strength of an individual in a democracy, and the role they play in their politics.
In the 2014 General Elections, close to 150 million Indians between the ages of 18 and 23 became eligible voters in India. This huge population of young voters was bigger than the total registered voters in several countries around the world!
Today, India is the youngest country in the world — and the country’s youth is going play a deciding role in its future. So the big question is: is the youth interested and concerned about the political scenario of our nation?
Political Apathy in Millennials: Myth or Fact?
Millennials are often accused of spending a majority of their time on the internet sharing and consuming content which is ‘frivolous’ and sometimes even based on sensationalised and fake news stories.
Every now and then, we see a new fad appearing on the internet. Sometimes it is a meme and on other occasions, some series of jokes. The TV news debates seldom discuss crucial issues like unemployment, health, and education that concern the youth.
This pattern of sharing and consuming content does not reflect very well on Indian millennials, making one feel as though they’re not concerned with the greater issues of our society.
“Today’s youth has shamelessly shown the world what really sells. We seem more interested in Dhinchak Poojas rather than the issues that really matter. We are used to mediocrity, and that is why, even our media has stopped discussing and showing what really matters, except a few of them,” laments Karan Kaushik (27), a filmmaker from Kota, Rajasthan.
But not everyone believes this to be true.
We Are the Future
I believe that millennials do take active interest in politics.
Today’s youth is more politically aware than the past generations. In fact, an interesting analysis by Sanjay Kumar (professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi) in his book Indian Youth and Electoral Politics: An Emerging Engagement reveals that 18-25 year olds are more politically aware than 26 to 33 year olds!
Yes, there might be a section of the society that is still unaware of the political ongoings in the country, or intentionally chooses to distance themselves from it. But things are changing rapidly.
We have the tools and technology to exchange ideas, discuss reforms, and openly debate about the latest issues, and even communicate with our political leaders on social media!
“We are engaging in political debates more often these days, all thanks to social media and smartphones. It is easier to read news on the go and you will find it everywhere, so you cannot really avoid politics entirely,” says Prateek Khandelwal (27) from Bengaluru.
Not just our social media feeds, news and politics is embedded everywhere – from stand up videos, hashtag trends, and internet memes. Young icons like Vir Dar, Sorabh Pant, Varun Grover and several others have never shied away from sharing their political opinion.
“Your role in social life in general also shows how aware you are politically. It is not just about voting once in five years. It is about engaging yourself in the process of change. We, as young citizens, have taken up issues like gender, LGBT rights, marital rape, etc., which were never discussed openly,” Kanika Garg (25), a Delhi-based PR professional says.
Not just developing political awareness — millennials are also participating actively in the whole process. Remember how the youth provided strength to Arvind Kejriwal when he launched AAP?
Nearly all the political parties are trying to include young volunteers in their cadre and spearhead their campaigns on social media and on the ground. It was three millennials – Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakur and Jignesh Mevani – who took the incumbent BJP by storm in recent Gujarat elections.
Although there’s been a rise in religious intolerance and rumours thanks to WhatsApp, luckily, a majority of young Indians have a very liberal, open-minded political viewpoint.
In 2019, the country will vote for a new government and Prime Minister again. The number of young voters is expected to have gone up exponentially in the last five years. Political leaders will be answerable to these millennials and fight for their votes. It will be worth watching who the millennials vote for and what role they play.
Do you believe that political apathy is still prevalent in millennials? Share your views in the comments below.
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