Age, profile, and professions of India's Parliamentarians tell the story of a slowly evolving nation

A view of Parliment House, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections results, in New Delhi.Photo/Subhav Shukla)(
  • The number of members of Parliament under the age of 40 has risen for the first time.
  • The number of women members has steadily increased since 2004.
  • Politics remains dominated by career politicians, agriculturists, and businessmen.
India is the world's fastest growing economy. However, there are varied opinions on whether it is a fast evolving society. Some digging into the profile of the recently elected representatives for the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India's Parliament, would suggest that India is moving forward although at a slow pace.

The seventeenth Lok Sabha is a lot younger, it has more women but not enough, and it is more educated than any time in the past.

Age is not a number

12% of the members are below the age 40 years compared to 8% in the last five years, according to data analysed by research organisation PRS Legislative. This is the first time since independence that the number of Parliamentarians under 40 has increased compared to the year earlier.

"The proportion of MPs below 40 years of age had steadily declined from 26% in the first Lok Sabha," the PRS note said.

While the representation has slightly increased this time, it is nowhere close to reflecting India's demography where 65% of the population is under the age of 35. By 2020, India is poised to become the youngest country in the world with an average age of 29 years.

Education matters

394 of the 543 members of Parliament this time have are graduates, that's a good 72%. Nearly 30% either have a post graduate degree or a Ph.D.

A sliver of hope for women

Women continue to under represented in the Lok Sabha. The number of women members has increased from 11.6% in 2014 to 14.6% in 2019. In absolute terms, the number has increased from 63 to 79. But the 85% males continue to dominate India's law making exercise.

The silver lining is that the proportion of women lawmakers has consistently increased in the last 15 years, although very slowly, according to data from PRS.

Rwanda (61%), South Africa (43%), UK (32%), USA (24%), and Bangladesh (21%) have more women representing the electorate than India.

Professionals in politics

In India, politics is not for everyone. The break-up of the professions declared by the elected members shows that nearly 40% of them are dedicated to politics or social service. Over 60% are into either agriculture or business. A measly 13% come from other professions like law, teaching, 0r the arts.

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