By Sneha Alexander
The number of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members of parliament (MPs) in the current Lok Sabha above the age of 70 declined to 8.8 percent from 14.2 percent in the 15th Lok Sabha and MPs aged 25 to 40 increased from 5.8 percent to 7.8 percent, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of data released by PRS Legislative Research.
The trend in the opposition Congress is the exact reverse of the BJP. The younger lot of MPs declined from 8.1 percent to 6.7 percent, and older MPs increased from 11.9 percent to 20 percent.
The average age of MPs has increased from 46.5 years during the first Lok Sabha (1952) to 56 years in the 16th Lok Sabha (2014 to present). While the first Lok Sabha had 489 MPs, the current Lok Sabha has 550 MPs.
The current Lok Sabha is the second oldest house of independent India; the first was the previous Lok Sabha (15th).
Young India has most MPs aged 56-70
The youngest MP in the current House is 28 years old, and the oldest MP is 88. The median age of MPs is 58 i.e half of the MPs are 58 years and above. In 2011, the median age in India was 24 years, IndiaSpendreported in September 2016.
Of India’s population eligible to be elected, a fourth are between 25 and 40 years old, but no more than 10 percent of MPs are from this age-group. Elderly (71-100) MPs occupy 9.6 percent of the seats, while their age-group makes up 2.4 percent of the population.
UP and Bihar have younger MPs; MPs aged 41 to 55 are best performers
India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, has the highest share of seats (70) in the Lok Sabha; 63 percent of MPs that represent this state of 200 million are below the age of 56. Half the Lok Sabha MPs from Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are below 56 years – younger than those from the remaining 13 states that have more than 15 seats in the Lok Sabha.
UP and Bihar can have younger MPs as their populations are among India’s youngest, with median ages of 20 as against India’s median age of 24.
Kerala (20 MPs) does not have a single MP aged between 25 and 40; 65 percent are above the age of 55. Kerala has a comparatively older population, with a median age of 31, which is, however, low compared to ageing countries – such as Japan, which has a median age of 46.9.
MPs aged between 41 and 55 are among best performers in 16th Lok Sabha
MPs between the ages of 41 and 55, on average, attended 81 percent of the sessions in the 16th Lok Sabha and marked the highest attendance. The oldest MPs scored the least, with 76.3 percent.
Parliamentarians of the age-group 41-55 were the most active in the Lok Sabha, with the highest average of questions, participation in debates and introduction of private member bills. While an MP of the age-group 41-55 asked 168 questions, an MP from the oldest age-group asked only 91 questions.
The least active parliamentarians are between 71 and 88 years old (the oldest); 34 percent of such MPs have asked less than 10 questions in the House.
Does India need younger leaders?
Anandiben Patel, former Chief Minister of Gujarat, cited the BJP tradition of voluntary retirement at the age of 75 as a reason for her retirement.
Babulal Gaur stepped down from Madhya Pradesh cabinet, sticking to the unwritten age limit rule of the BJP.
Many members of legislative assembly (MLAs) were seen rallying behind Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav during the clash with his father and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav.
“Netaji is ageing and the public understands it will not be possible for him to run the state for a long term,” MLA Mohd Rizwan told the Indian Express.
“Akhilesh is the undisputed leader with a clean image who has set a milestone in development,” MLA Indal Kumar told the Indian Express. “The public is a fan of him, youth are his followers.”
The author is a policy analyst with BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative.