Home / Elections 2019 / Lok Sabha Elections 2019 /  What young India wants from the government

Young voters in urban India are most concerned about jobs, women’s safety, and corruption, according to the second round of the YouGov-Mint Millennial Survey conducted in January and February this year. Both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters, as well as supporters of other parties, shared this view. Both sets of youth also want less conflicts and inequality in society even as they demand greater transparency and accountability from the government.

As the first part of this series showed, the BJP enjoyed much greater support than any other party among millennials and post-millennials at the time of the survey. However, a significant section of both BJP-leaning and non-BJP-leaning youth felt that unemployment, women’s safety, and corruption were among the biggest areas of concern currently.

If a sizeable section of the BJP-supporting youth are backing the ruling regime despite these concerns, it perhaps indicates that the opposition has been unable to offer a coherent response to these issues that would change the minds of these voters.

When asked what change they would like to see in 2019, greater safety for women ranked as the top answer for both BJP-leaning youth (27%) and non-BJP-leaning youth (27%). The second big change young voters desire is greater government accountability and less corruption. About 20% of BJP-leaning youth and 15% of non-BJP-leaning youth voted for greater accountability in the survey.

A reduction in religious and caste conflicts was the second big priority for non-BJP leaning youth (19%) and the fourth big priority for BJP-leaning youth (14%). Reducing income inequality was the third big priority for BJP-leaning youth (18%) and the fourth big priority for non-BJP-leaning youth (10%).

The results of the survey suggest that there is widespread support for an interventionist state in the country, with the youth more supportive of such a role.

Among the older generations (Gen X and beyond), 40% of those surveyed said that the government had no business in running a business. Among millennials, only a little over a third agreed with such a view. Among post-millennials, only a little over a quarter agreed with such a view.

An overwhelming majority of millennials and post-millennials cutting across the political divide want governments to run businesses in strategic sectors such as defence and to create more jobs in the public sector. On both these issues, their support for an activist state is higher than in the case of the older generations.

The survey results suggest that the millennial voter who wants a leaner state is an endangered species, even in urban India. The YouGov-Mint Millennial Survey was conducted online—among 5,038 respondents from YouGov India’s panel of internet users spread across more than 180 cities. As many as 2,709 of the 5,038 respondents were millennials (with 1,489 younger millennials), 1,188 were from the Gen-Z (born after 1996).

Of the remaining 1,141, nearly three-fourths belonged to the Gen-X (born between 1965 and 1981) and the rest were older. Millennials and post-millennial adults together account for roughly half of India’s electorate, with an estimated population, based on census projections, of 459 million in 2019.

Millennials or post-millennials are as likely to support or oppose reservations in jobs as the older lot. In fact, a slightly greater proportion of the older lot (42%) said that reservations should be abolished compared to millennials and post-millennials (37%). A similar proportion (38%) of millennials and a slightly higher proportion of Gen Zers (42%) think that reservations should be based on economic criteria rather than caste.

Again, there is not much difference across party affiliations on these issues. There are some key issues on which there are differences between those who support the BJP and those who don’t. BJP-leaning youth think the government has done well in implementing GST and curbing cross-border terrorism but those who don’t support the party beg to differ.

A sizeable section of both BJP-leaning youth and non-BJP-leaning youth consider the cleanliness drive or the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to be a key achievement but even here, there is a big gulf between those who support the BJP and those who don’t.

While a large section of non-BJP-leaning youth view demonetization as a failure and the implementation of the goods and services tax a matter of concern, a large section of BJP-leaning millennials and post-millennials consider them to be key achievements.

Those who don’t support the ruling party also think that the government has failed to deal with the farm crisis adequately, with the plight of farmers a big concern for them.

They are also more worried about the rise of extremist views or intolerance in the country compared to BJP-leaning youth. Among BJP-leaning youth, a sizeable section is indeed worried about these issues but they are a minority among those whose support the party.

This is the second of a three-part data journalism series on the political preferences of India’s digital natives.

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