Friday, March 28, 2014

Why the Young Matter


89,218 of Sikkim’s 3.62 lakh voters, making up nearly 25% of the electorate, are aged between 18 to 25 years. Of these, 13,505 electors have entered the voter list for the first time, all aged between 18 to 19 years at present. Since this is also the segment most likely to be most excited about the election process despite the rather dull goings this time around, they become a much feted section. And they should be, because despite the cliché, they really are going to reap what the next five years so. Sikkim’s voters have always voted in strength with nearly 84% turning up to vote in 2009. The turnout in the 18-25 age-group can be expected to be even higher since this is the first election for many of them and they will want to have a say in things. That said, one needs to also accept that a majority of the voters are in the 25-40 age-group who make up 40.93% of the electorate at 1,48,289. But they lose significance as a single group because at their age, they get segmented into caste and community lines and other such divisions and don’t express or work as one unit. In the 18-25 group, however, the pigeonholing is hopefully not yet completed and they can be expected to respond to issues as a collective instead of dispirited segments of society that older generations tend to become. Manifestos which catch their fancy and leaders who can inspire them with the right dose of challenge and opportunity for the next term thus stand a good chance of cornering their endorsement. Since the young are driven more by ideology and passion than malice and revenge, it would be ill-advised to try and sway them by painting targets on other people’s backs. What will work more effectively with this group will be appeals to their sense of propriety and their still instinctive preference for righteousness and equality. Sops will not work with them, but challenged could. They will prefer opportunities to hand-outs and sacrifice to lethargy. Those who think that this youth can be swayed with empty rhetoric and opportunistic teasing of their emotions are obviously reading the young wrong…

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