Elections 2014 & the Young India Voter Myth

Two important dates coming up for each one of us as Indian citizens is 17th April and 24th April 2014, that is the date when India will go into parliamentary elections for picking their National representation. There are several exciting facets this time.

1. Probably for the first time in the Indian Parliamentary Elections that social media seems to be playing a significant role in voter alignment with political parties.

2. It is probably also the first time that there is a significant presence of young voters in the age group of in the voter population.

3. There is also a big talk about the role of women voters in this General Elections.

Lets look at each of these on the basis of available reports and news information.

Is Social Media playing a significant role?

The answer is both a Yes and a No. According to the Google-TNS Survey report 2013, little over 11% of the Indian population has access to the Internet, and only 5% of the population has access to social media like Facebook and Twitter. However, the good news is that majority of this 5% population are people who will vote. Therefore, it does make sense for the political parties to go for online campaigns, making accounts on Facebook and twitter and meeting people on Google Hangouts. Though the influence will not be much, but this is surely an ever-increasing trend that has immense potential.

Are the ballots affected by social media influence?
Are the ballots affected by social media influence?

Having earmarked the small yet growing impact of social media on Indian politics, it is very important to understand the dark side of the social media business. The measure of social media impact is based on the followers count, be it called “likes” in Facebook, or “followers” and “retweets” in twitter, or “repinned” in Pinterest. It is always a heartening and encouraging feeling to see your “likes” count increasing, and we tend to measure social media success by this count. Sadly, however, these numbers can be fake and misleading !! Yes, its not difficult to “buy” likes and retweets for your posts, for a few bucks you can purchase thousands of “likes” for your facebook post and “retweets” and “followers” for your twitter account. So, is it fair enough to follow and believe the social media success and make it a basis of your valuable vote? Think again.

Will the Young Voters population really influencing?

Will the young voters mark their presence this year?
Will the young voters mark their presence this year?

There is a widespread belief that in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, voter population will be significantly younger than in the past elections. However, the Census data speaks a different story.  Even though the share of eligible voters in the total population has increased by 3.5% points since 2001, this increased segment is not all that young. In fact, the proportion of younger voters has marginally decreased since 2001 !! The proportion of voter population between 18 and 25 has declined from 21.7% to 21% since the 2001 census. Therefore, it is fundamentally unlikely that the young voters will be making a serious impact, and its going to be more or less even-steven for young and the old at the ballots.

Why are the political parties trying to woo the female Voters?

power-of-49-tgbManifesto of most political parties is fast changing into “womanifsto” in an attempt to woo the female voters, bringing in promises to take strong stand to curb Nirbhaya-like incidents in their regime. According to the Election Commission’s database, the gap between the percentage of male voters and female voters has been fast decreasing, and was at its lowest in the 2009 Parliamentary polls. Political parties are also inducting females, though mostly daughters and wives of ex-ministers and MLAs, to show the masses that they really mean to bring in a balance in the gender-bias. How fair are they towards the fairer gender, only time will tell.

References used for writing this article are as under –

The Wall Street Journal Article, “For the first time parties woo female voters”, dated 21st Nov, 2014

The Times of India Article, “Women Voters Hard to Get”, dated 9th March, 2014

“Women voters will play decisive role in indian elections”, The Irish Times, dated 11th March, 2014

“Social Media & Politics – The Influence in India”, Blog on The Bucketful of Thoughts

“Why the 2014 voter is different”, The Times of India article dated 8th Feb, 2014

“Google Survey of India’s Urban Voters”, www.livemint.com article dated 8th Oct, 2014

“90000 per seat: Young India could swing elections 2014”, The Indian Express Article dated 26th Feb, 2014

“Women take poll position, may beat men in voting in 2014”, The Hindustan Times article dated 7th March, 2014

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