Empower Youth in Politics: Lowering the Minimum Age for Candidacy

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A Parliamentary panel recommended reducing the minimum age for contesting an Assembly election from 25 years to 18 years on Friday. The panel believes that this change would bring a wider range of perspectives into policy debates and enhance the credibility of the political process.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice presented its report on election process aspects and reforms. The committee, chaired by MP, also advised caution regarding the proposal for a common electoral roll for different types of elections, emphasizing the importance of federalism. Additionally, they suggested increasing the punishment for filing a false affidavit by a candidate.

The committee stated that lowering the minimum age requirement for candidacy in elections would provide young individuals with equal opportunities to participate in democracy. They argued that in the modern era, younger people are well-equipped to hold public office due to increased education, globalization, and digitalization.

It was concerning to the committee that a large percentage of MPs in 2019 were over the age of 55, while India’s median age was significantly lower. However, the Election Commission disagreed with the need to change the minimum age, citing concerns about the experience and maturity of 18-year-olds for such responsibilities.

The committee emphasized the political awareness and knowledge of youth globally, pointing to movements like Fridays for Future and March for Our Lives. They also addressed the issue of a common electoral roll, advising the government to consider the principles of federalism and avoid encroaching on the states’ domain.

Some committee members raised concerns about linking Aadhaar and Voter IDs of non-citizens, suggesting legal provisions to prevent non-citizens with Aadhaar from being included on electoral rolls. The committee also discussed remote voting for internal migrants but did not make specific recommendations on the topic.

Responses from national political parties varied, with some supporting the common electoral roll proposal while others expressing concerns about centralization of the election process. The CPI(M) also recommended reducing the minimum age for candidates and scrapping certain provisions.

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