Fifty percent of the 1.27 billion people living in India are under the age of 25. Quite literally, the youth of India are the future. Even as India is coming off an enormous victory of eradicating polio, like many other young people in the world, young Indians have a declining faith in their country’s politics.
Take into account India’s most recent election in April 2014, the largest-ever election in the world. An estimated 150 million young Indians were eligible to vote for the first time in April, yet only 23 million Indians actually did so.
For this year’s International Day of Democracy, the United Nations calls on the world to engage young people in democracy. In India’s case, the lack of youth engagement in the last election should bring some questions to light, such as “why didn’t more of the country’s youth vote, the most fundamental process of democracy?”
At PCI, we are addressing the issue at its root by engaging youth early on. In collaboration with other partners, we recruit schoolchildren to teach their communities about preventing disease. This group of young “mobilizers” was instrumental in eradicating polio in India. Amongst people twice their age, these children announced vaccination drives, participated in rallies, and successfully pushed for a polio-free India.
As PCI pushes for India’s youth to play a larger part in their country’s growth and development, we also encourage communities to provide a safe space for them to do so. What good is it to vote for the future, when the future doesn’t vote?