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India elections: First-time voters want jobs, harmony

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India elections 2024: What we learned this week

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India’s general elections, set to begin this Friday (April 19), mark a significant democratic exercise as the country hosts the world’s largest electoral event. More than 18 million first-time voters, including young individuals like 20-year-old Roushan Kumar from West Bengal, are poised to cast their ballots, with many prioritising employment and educational advancements.

Polls suggest that prime minister Narendra Modi may secure a third term. However, first-time voters like Kumar are keen on choosing leaders who focus on pivotal issues such as job creation and communal harmony.

Despite a strong track record in economic growth under Modi’s administration, concerns over unemployment and rising sectarian tensions remain critical to the youth.

“I will vote for a party that works for development in education. I will vote for a party that will provide employment – so that there are jobs,” Kumar, who supports Modi, explained to Reuters.

According to a CSDS-Lokniti survey of 1,290 first-time voters in New Delhi, rising unemployment, inflation, and communal tensions are major concerns after ten years under Modi. However, nearly two-thirds of respondents appreciate the economic strides under Modi’s administration, including the construction of a large Hindu temple.

Despite impressive economic growth, India struggles to create sufficient jobs, leaving many young people unemployed, as reported by the International Labour Organisation and the Institute for Human Development.

Akansha Majumdar, a 20-year-old engineering student from West Bengal, stresses the importance of eliminating illiteracy and ensuring job security in India. To address these voter concerns, the Congress party promises paid apprenticeships, and Modi’s manifesto includes job creation initiatives.

Communal harmony is also a significant concern among young voters. Mohammad Aijaz Ansari, a 19-year-old laptop repair technician in Delhi, said, “Fighting in the name of religion is everywhere and should not happen.” He plans to vote for the Aam Aadmi Party, allied with Congress.

Last year, the US State Department expressed concerns regarding the treatment of Muslims and other minorities in India, which Modi has denied.

(Reuters)

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