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Politics

India's population skews young, which may sway its elections

Updated : 2019-04-19 11:26:23

Young Indians could play a crucial role in the ongoing general election in the world's largest democracy.

With nearly two-thirds of the population below 35, and more than 15 million first-time voters aged 18 and 19, young men and women have the power to swing the national vote in any direction.

Ambitious, aspirational and impatient for change, young voters — at least in India's capital — are less focused on issues such as caste and religion than older generations, according to interviews with The Associated Press.

They are interested, instead, on landing jobs after college, living in cleaner cities with breathable air, increasing women's safety and competing with the world's biggest economies.

Current Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to be the favourite, riding a wave of Hindu nationalism that peaked after the air force attacked an alleged militant base in Pakistan to avenge a suicide attack that killed more than 40 soldiers in Kashmir.

His main opponent, Congress party's Rahul Gandhi, hopes to revive the glory of the grand old party that ruled the country for more than 50 years, since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, Rajanvir Singh Luthra, 23, a YouTube vlogger, stands for a photograph in New Delhi, India. “Whichever government comes to power, the first thing they should do is to look after the poor because the rate of poverty is very high in India. No doubt, we now have digital India, we have everything online, but do something for the poor people also,” Luthra told the Associated Press. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, Rajanvir Singh Luthra, 23, a YouTube vlogger, stands for a photograph in New Delhi, India. “Whichever government comes to power, the first thing they should do is to look after the poor because the rate of poverty is very high in India. No doubt, we now have digital India, we have everything online, but do something for the poor people also,” Luthra told the Associated Press. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, Monika Dalal, 20, a psychology student talks to Associated Press in New Delhi, India.“Women’s safety is a major issue for me. People are talking a lot about it and there are slogans like “Save girl child, educate girl child,” being launched, but I don’t think these concepts are applied to the roots with practicality. I have been to the villages and seen how girls are treated. They are not even educated and if they do go to school, they are forced to marry right after completing grade 12,” Dalal said. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, Monika Dalal, 20, a psychology student talks to Associated Press in New Delhi, India.“Women’s safety is a major issue for me. People are talking a lot about it and there are slogans like “Save girl child, educate girl child,” being launched, but I don’t think these concepts are applied to the roots with practicality. I have been to the villages and seen how girls are treated. They are not even educated and if they do go to school, they are forced to marry right after completing grade 12,” Dalal said. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, engineering student Mayank Thakur, 18, stands for a photograph in New Delhi, India. “Unemployment is very high in India currently. India has a lot of engineers who haven’t been able to develop their skills because there aren’t enough jobs for them in India,
In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, engineering student Mayank Thakur, 18, stands for a photograph in New Delhi, India. “Unemployment is very high in India currently. India has a lot of engineers who haven’t been able to develop their skills because there aren’t enough jobs for them in India," Mayank told the Associated Press. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, a banking and financial services student Kavita Srivastava, 18, stands for a photograph in New Delhi, India. “The biggest issue in Delhi is girls’ safety, which is still not 100%. So the main issue is that ... girls should feel safe leaving their homes and going out at whatever time of the night. I don’t think Rahul Gandhi is the best option. I too am in support of Narendra Modi. I think he has the potential to take India to those heights,
In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, a banking and financial services student Kavita Srivastava, 18, stands for a photograph in New Delhi, India. “The biggest issue in Delhi is girls’ safety, which is still not 100%. So the main issue is that ... girls should feel safe leaving their homes and going out at whatever time of the night. I don’t think Rahul Gandhi is the best option. I too am in support of Narendra Modi. I think he has the potential to take India to those heights," Srivastava said. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, psychology student Vardha Kharbanda, 20, speaks to Associated Press in New Delhi, India. “I am looking out for an issue that no government is actually talking about, that is pollution. I have been in Delhi for my entire life and my lungs are gone without ever smoking. So I might just die of lung cancer without touching a cigarette even once. Nobody is talking about pollution,” Kharbanda said. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, psychology student Vardha Kharbanda, 20, speaks to Associated Press in New Delhi, India. “I am looking out for an issue that no government is actually talking about, that is pollution. I have been in Delhi for my entire life and my lungs are gone without ever smoking. So I might just die of lung cancer without touching a cigarette even once. Nobody is talking about pollution,” Kharbanda said. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, university student Jitesh Nagpal, 20, stands for a photograph in New Delhi, India. “For me, the biggest issue is job opportunities. Whichever party creates more jobs, for the new industries, will get my vote. Because I will have to start looking for jobs very soon,” Nagpal told the Associated Press. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
In this Tuesday, April 16, 2019, photo, university student Jitesh Nagpal, 20, stands for a photograph in New Delhi, India. “For me, the biggest issue is job opportunities. Whichever party creates more jobs, for the new industries, will get my vote. Because I will have to start looking for jobs very soon,” Nagpal told the Associated Press. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
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