Millennial, a term generically applied to the demographic group born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. The period was indeed an era that saw digit(al)ization surge on a humongous scale, resulting in the ever-increasing popularity of the media. However, it marked a sharp contrast in the political and economic ideologies of the general working public. Freedom of speech became extensively applicable and in all forms. Online platforms provided even the lowest rung of the society, an opportunity to voice their opinions and speak openly about their plight. This, in turn has encouraged the youth of today to take up various social issues and fight for the greater good of all.
With all the information clutter that is being tossed around on the internet and different sets of individuals openly supporting or opposing varied political factions, it is indeed a tough task for the average millennial to come to a firm conclusion while casting his/her vote. Media outlets are often found to publish ‘paid news’ and troll pages, although a brilliant source of comic relief and an imposition of expressive liberty, contribute very little in terms of offering practical solutions to today’s problems. Millennials may admire policies and strategies suggested by the different parties on a selective basis. But a government can be formed only with a majority. Hence, it becomes more of a choice between who fulfills a larger set of promises and has exhibited capability in the past.
Winning millennial vote is no piece-of-cake, however. Be it in India or any country for that matter. Factors such as augmented costs for education, medical and employment requirements, countless records of communal or caste-based violence, failure of the judiciary to pass appropriate judgments to criminals, high incidence of corruption and inadequate infrastructure have only contributed to sheer distaste amongst today’s young voters. Hence, gaining their attention and respect is a laborious endeavour.
It only helps if these political parties (who mostly nominate experienced senior veterans) show interest in directly addressing the issues faced by the millennials in order to gain their support. The youth of today is equally interested in the general well-being of themselves as well as of the entire community. Their energy when it comes to leading social movements and addressing petitions to the government has been quite evident in recent times. Hence, parties will have to display keen regard to fields such as education, employment and overall standard of living.
Making the voting system streamlined is yet another way to capture millennial-voter attention. If the youth of today do not take the effort of making their presence felt at the voting booths, it could be for two specific reasons. One, vote(r) registration might seem like a tedious, lengthy process that involves long queues and insipid sets of people. Two, millennials seek quick decisions and changes and they are willing to go to any lengths for them to get materialized; most political parties tend to fall behind on the broad sets of promises they make during the election campaigns, eventually losing out on millennial trust, and indirectly their votes.
Ever-increasing corruption is one of the biggest maladies our country has been facing since a long while. This led to millennials leading anti-corruption movements, ultimately resulting in the emergence of India’s legitimate third party (apart from BJP and INC) – AAP, which went on to win the Delhi Assembly Elections on two separate occasions. The BJP however played their cards well when it came to the 2014 General Elections. They marketed their strong leader via the youth, who promptly did their duty of making enough noise online to gather support. Youth activism appeared to be promoted on massive levels, indirectly prompting the average Indian millennial to vote for BJP. Also, millennials seemed to have run out of alternatives after ten years of exhaustive, scam-filled rule by the INC.
The youth of today are quite sensible when it comes to decision-making and hence, it is by no means a pushover act to genuinely impress them. The only way is to understand the causes they fight for, address them publicly and offer quick, practical solutions in order to reinstate their beliefs in government policies. Introducing more youth-oriented candidates can also bring about an impact when it comes to sweeping millennial vote. Millennials also tend to believe that a relatively younger ministry would be willing to bring about changes faster, perceive and address issues directly relating to the youth, and take decisive measures on matters specifically pertaining to them.
The next General elections in India are fast approaching (in another couple of years) and said political parties better prepare themselves to answer to millennials whose opinions have been observed to be polarizing (as seen online), and cater to their demands a bit more, so they feel they have a greater role to play in shaping the economy and benefiting the democracy as a whole. Hate-breeding needs to be avoided, and unity needs to be proliferated. Our country badly requires this!