Print-focused Dainik Bhaskar campaign encourages young voter turnout

By Sanjeev Kotnala

Elections are important in any democratic setup. Unfortunately, a major chunk of literate urban voters in India shy away from their responsibility of casting their vote and thus are indirectly not part of government formation.

Yet, this is the class that mostly cribs and raises questions on the policies and steps taken by the elected representatives. Youth and the first-time voters are part of this segment.

The Dainik Bhaskar Group, India’s largest newspaper group, created a campaign that required teamwork from both editorial and marketing teams to encourage younger Indian voters to participate in elections across the country in 2013.

India is a large democratic country with 28 states and seven union territories. There rarely is any year in which there isn’t an election.

In 2013, three major states, all in Dainik Bhaskar Group markets, held state assembly elections. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh were each poised to redefine political alignments in the General Election 2014. Dainik Bhaskar is the dominant newspaper in these states.

India is a young country with youth constituting more than 60 percent of the population. Many first-time voters are added in each election cycle. Although young Indians could be a decisive force in local, national, and regional politics, the voting percentage among youth is low.

A Dainik Bhaskar campaign, “Yuva Zid” (Perseverance by Youth) urged young people to vote and fulfill their national duty in helping select the right candidate.

The campaign was primarily a print-focused approach that ran from November 10, 2013 to December 2, 2013. The programme simply leveraged the group-central theme of resilience/perseverance (Hindi word: zid) and engaged youth with the thought.

We know that yuva (youth) are often rebellious by nature and at times shrug pointed reference to responsibilities. They definitely do not like anyone preaching to them, hence the approach was more inclusive with the message: Vote to create a government that you want.

This was presented as a way for them to have a voice and a route to betterment. The idea of it being their responsibility was underplayed. More so it urged them to recognise their power and show the nation their force.

We, in a  very subtle way, referred to their making  a 33% vote bank, hence being in a situation to decide the government if each one of them voted. 

For us, enhanced voting itself acted as a measurement of success, although we cannot take all the credit.  

The three states in which we ran the “Yuva Zid” programme had much higher voter turnout than usual. We may take a part of credit for the high voting turnout in these states, touching 75% in Rajasthan, 72% in Madhya Pradesh, and 77% in Chhattisgarh. And a major push in this spike in voting came from the youth segment. 

About Sanjeev Kotnala

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