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Parliamentary Committee Urges Lowering Minimum Age For Contesting Elections, Citing Youth Empowerment

The proposal cites examples from other countries and aims to empower young individuals as responsible political participants.

Parliament monsoon session 2023
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In a significant development, a parliamentary committee on Friday recommended reducing the minimum age for contesting Lok Sabha and assembly elections, with the aim of providing young individuals equal opportunities to actively engage in democracy.

Under the present legal framework, a person must be at least 25 years old to contest Lok Sabha and assembly polls, and the minimum age for Rajya Sabha and state legislative council membership is 30 years. However, the committee, headed by BJP's Sushil Modi, cited examples from countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, where the minimum age for candidacy in national elections is 18, highlighting that young individuals can be reliable and responsible political participants, as reported by PTI.

The report stated, "After examining various countries' practices, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, the Committee observes that the minimum age for candidacy in national elections needs to be 18 years. These nations' examples demonstrate that young individuals can be reliable and responsible political participants."

The committee also proposed reducing the minimum age requirement for candidacy in assembly elections, emphasizing that such a move would empower the youth and enhance their participation in the democratic process.

However, the Election Commission expressed reservations about altering the current age requirements. The Election Commission's viewpoint is based on its belief that 18-year-olds might not possess the necessary experience and maturity to shoulder the responsibilities of parliamentary and state legislative roles.

"The Commission has already considered the issue of aligning the minimum age for voting and contesting elections to Parliament, state legislature, and local bodies and has found that it is unrealistic to expect 18-year-olds to possess the necessary experience and maturity for these responsibilities. Therefore, the minimum age for voting and contesting elections is appropriate. The Commission does not favour reducing the age requirement for membership of Parliament and state legislatures and still maintains this view," noted the panel.

In light of these recommendations, the committee called upon the Election Commission and the government to prioritize providing comprehensive civic education programs to equip young people with the knowledge and skills necessary for political engagement. The report highlighted the potential adoption of successful models, such as Finland's citizenship education, tailored to suit the Indian context.

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