New Delhi, Aug. 7 -- This should be enough to give the political class many sleepless nights. In the HT-MaRS Youth Survey 2013, 52% of the young people polled felt that they would be better off with a dictatorship where things could get done. It is a measure of how fed up young people are with the prevarication and procrastination in the system today that they would even contemplate such a situation given India's brush with such a period during the Emergency. Now, many of today's youth were not born at that time, but the curtailment of civil liberties during that time has been forever etched in our collective consciousness. The basic message in this survey, however, is one of hope. The young feel that despite all the setbacks in the form of corruption and scams, there will be a change for the better in the future.
If the young are willing to vote on caste or religious lines, it is only because they see this as their route to progress. If the political class had created conditions conducive for young people to maximise their potential, perhaps they would not cling to such outdated thinking. The good news is that the young still want to exercise their franchise despite the fact that politicians have only paid lip service to the demographic dividend that India is in a position to reap. But they have really lagged behind in giving the young what they really need - education, health and other basic amenities. With more young voters coming into the picture, political parties will perforce have to change their ways, if for nothing else in enlightened self-interest. The young are clear that people with criminal records should not be allowed to enter the electoral fray. They also feel that there should be a minimum educational qualification for politicians and an age limit for ministers and party office-bearers. This is significant given that many of our political parties' youth wings have people well into their forties.
It is up to the political class to restore the faith of the youth in democracy. The fact that many are talking of a dictatorship shows how let down they feel by the current system. The youth is India's biggest asset, its foundation for the future. The political class would be doing the country irreversible damage if it does not listen to the aspirations of the young and provide the means to fulfil them.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.