Young voters in the Indian general elections

India’s ongoing general elections are the world’s largest exercise of democracy. Set over seven phases with more than 900 million voters, the contest to elect India’s parliament will not just be a referendum on the last five years of Prime Minister Modi’s government, but also about the country India hopes to become as the 21st century advances.

Crucial to India’s future are the 84 million young Indians who are first-time voters in these parliamentary elections. What will emerge as the most important issues for these voters? How will India’s millennials and Gen Z vote, and which policies and priorities should the country’s politicians emphasize to attract the youth vote?

I was featured as a panelist on Barkha Dutt’s weekly show ‘This is Us’ on Tiranga TV to answer some of these questions and share my research on India’s millennials. Please catch the full discussion here.

And below are some of my selected interventions:

One of the most important questions about Indian millennials is whether they are more socially liberal or conservative than other generations. Citing my field research, I highlight certain conservative attitudes, particularly towards marriage, that continue to define India’s young.

It is also important to remember that India’s youth are not one singular, cohesive voting bloc. While they were the BJP’s largest constituency in the 2014 elections, unemployment, minority issues, and a more unified opposition will be important considerations in the millennial vote in this election.

And most importantly, I highlight how India’s youth is looking for big, bold policies and ideas. For any politician to successfully capture a majority of young voters, they need to proactively describe their vision of India in the 21st century. They need to lay out a comprehensive plan on employment (and the next sunrise industry), making Indian cities safer for women, and improving healthcare and education.

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