Parliament should be a microcosm of society. The mix of elected representatives must be reflective of the regional, linguistic and religious demographics and – thanks to the Women’s Reservation Bill- even the gender demographics of the nation. I am all for this.
A demographic dimension that doesn’t seem to draw much attention, however, is the age profile. According to a report published in September 2009, 30.1% of India’s population is between 0-14 years of age. The median age is 25.1. So, it is fair to conclude that half the population is less than or equal to this median age. Whereas the average age of the members of the Lok Sabha is 53.2. (I couldn’t get the median age that would have avoided the distortion caused by outliers like Ahmed Hamdullah Sayeed who is only 26 or Ram Sundar Das who weighs in at 88.)
But the good news is that the women can make a difference. The average age of the women MPs is 47, while that of the male MPs is 55. As the % of women MPs goes up from 10% at present to 33%, the average age will come down.
To force the issue, how about a Bill that will mandate reservation of 33% of the seats for candidates below 35 years of age? A Venn diagram of a circle representing 33% of seats for women intersecting another circle of candidates below 35 will ensure a good percentage of young women in Parliament. The TRP rating of the Lok Sabha TV channel will also go up.