Sunday, December 29, 2013

Face of the Year 2013

The Indian Express newspaper has named the Indian voter the Face of the Year 2013.

In a year of political chaos and administrative drift, India fought back in Delhi and the heartland states which went to polls in the first week of  December. The Angry Young Voter became the Face of the Year, seething with anger, upsetting political fortunes by turning out to cast ballots in record numbers. Who constitutes this new phenomenon that has stunned the establishment? Young, idealist, activist, wired, tech savvy, free-thinker, impatient, energetic, aggressive, alienated and angry— meet the new voters. Aged between 18 and 25, they are students, some employed, many unemployed, women and men, desperately in search of jobs and predominantly from middle class families.
The dominant issues that sent them in droves to booths were inflation, unemployment and women’s safety. Corruption by the ruling elite had been the theme of 2013, leading to massive protests in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities. Inability of the state to protect women was behind the anger that propelled large-scale participation of women voters everywhere.

Elections are held in India every five years. The turn-out for the state assembly elections in the last three cycles is as follows:

State 2003 2008 2013
Delhi 47% 58% 67%
Rajasthan 68% 67% 75%
Madhya Pradesh 67% 69% 72%
Chhatisgarh 71% 71% 75%

It is sometimes good to take a break from American cynicism and apathy.  The 2012 Presidential elections had a turn-out of 53.6%. The 2010 elections, which gave us our much beloved do-nothing Republican Congress had a turn-out of 37.8% (source).  The 63.1% turnout in 1960 has not been surpassed in five decades.  Despite having in many ways a lot worse government than the US, Indians haven't given up on government in the way Americans have.