What are India's first-time voters worried about?

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STORY: Nearly 18 million first-time voters are set to cast ballots in India’s general election.

It begins on April 19 and runs for almost seven weeks.

Leader Narendra Modi is seeking a third straight term - a record only held by India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru .

Days before voting began, Modi showcased a manifesto that promised to create jobs if he wins.

That may be what young voters like 22-year-old Yashraj Singh want to hear.

Singh is a student and hip hop dancer who moved to bustling New Delhi for better opportunities - and he wants a government that understands his struggle.

“Like, they should provide more programs regarding education and employment because a lot of youth is now getting educated but still they don’t get good jobs."

Delhi native Anam Khan feels the same.

“I am 21 years old and as of now, I am unemployed and this is the first time I will cast my vote.”

The fourth of seven children, Khan is desperate to contribute to her family’s income…

…but since graduating from college last year, she has struggled to find a full-time job.

“We want a government which can make provisions for job opportunities. So many people who are educated and have studied are unable to find jobs today. So, as a first-time voter, I will vote for a government which can support the youth.”

Official data shows nearly 16% of India's urban youth between 15 and 29 stayed unemployed in 2022 to

2023 due to poor skills or a lack of quality jobs.

Away from the bustle of the capital in the village of Surana,

Aman Yadav’s priorities in the upcoming vote look a little different.

The 19-year-old has been working his family’s land for as long as he can remember.

He wants a government that appreciates the hard labors of farmers.

“Farmers work hard day and night but they aren’t rewarded for their effort. So it is important for the government to implement policies that are in favour of the farmers so we can get a good crop yield and a fair price for our crop.”

Reuters surveys of families in rural areas earlier this year showed their income has grown stagnant or gotten worse compared to before the pandemic.

A majority of India's population live outside its cities, and in a 2011 Census those areas employed half of its workforce.

The general election will be held in seven stages until June 1.

Votes are due to be counted on June 4 and results expected the same day.