12 May, 2021

Young, Not So Restless

Blame it on the rules. They’re encouraging the conformity.

Illustration by Sorit
Young, Not So Restless

Over the past decade, the arrival in Parliament of a number of young MPs—fresh-faced, well educated, smart at parrying TV sound bites, and savvy about the world at large—raised hopes for a transformation of Indian politics. The hype generated was always overstated, but has gradually given way to muted disappointment. Now pointed questions are beginning to be asked.

Statistics show that younger MPs participate significantly less in Parliament, albeit in an atmosphere where Parliament itself is mostly gridlocked. Even using a cut-off age of 50, it turns out that those who are older participate in debates 40 per cent more often. The argument that party hierarchies stifle younger MPs has some merit (more on this later), but is contradicted by the poor performance of even someone like Rahul Gandhi, who has participated in only one discussion in this 15th Lok Sabha, and asked not a single question.

Even setting aside parliamentary participation, why is it that so few in this cohort are making a name for themselves by proposing new ideas, or even standing up...

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