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POLICY REPORT NO. 14

Youth Activism and Democratic Politics in India’s Northeast: 2014 Election in Perspective

| Photo Credit: Ranganathan Chellappa

This Report attempts to understand how the youth in the northeastern region of India look at the electoral and political processes. The region, comprising eight States, has had a turbulent political history and has since been a sensitive area for policymakers in the country. There were, since India’s independence, several volatile social and political movements spread across the eight States. In many of these movements, students and youth have been the driving force. The biggest example of such a movement and its impact on the politics of the State is the All Assam Students Union (AASU). After six years of struggle against alleged illegal immigration, it signed an accord with the Union Government in 1985, called the Assam Accord, formed a political party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), and came to power through the electoral process twice.

Student-youth politics and activism has formed the backbone of most political and social movements in region. This Report looks at the critical mass of the youth voters and their attitude and perspective towards elections. Through a survey across seven university campuses spread across six States, the study attempts to discern a pattern to the youth vote and the various factors that influence their judgment or their electoral preferences.

Finally, the Report makes a case for engaging the youth in community-based programmes and its impact on policy-making. In line with the National Youth Policy, which India has been drafting and implementing since 2003, the Report recommends a focus on region-specific approach to policymaking and the creation of a Youth Development Index.

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