General elections for the Lok Sabha, the parliament of India, are scheduled to be held in phases in the different states over the coming weeks. The first phase on April 11 will include the state of Andhra Pradesh, which this year will include a group of nearly 2,000 new voters from the Yanadi society.

An official puts indelible ink on the finger of a voter in Andhra Pradesh in the April 2009 general election
An official puts indelible ink on the finger of a voter in Andhra Pradesh in the April 2009 general election (Photo by Public.Resource.Org on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

According to an article in The Hindu, the project of enrolling the nomadic Yanadi people in the Krishna district onto the voter roles was accomplished with the help of 10 volunteers from their society. Many of them live in the marshes and mangrove forests, subsisting on fish and wild crabs and moving about as they need to. Their nomadic lifestyle makes the task of the officials who want to register them as voters quite difficult.

The reporter for the newspaper interviewed the leader of the group of volunteers, Nakka Vijaya Babu. The 36-year-old Yanadi man said that their fishing and gathering lifestyle is the major impediment to their taking part in important activities of Indian society, such as voting.

Some Yanadi kids
Some Yanadi kids (Photo by Only the Best on and copyrighted, but released for all uses without reservation)

Their general lack of education has hampered them from being aware of their right to vote. Almost half of the newly-enrolled voters had only recently become old enough to vote anyway, he said. Vijaya Babu added that many people in the 20 – 40 age group would be going to the poles for the first time in the upcoming election.

The journalist writes that heretofore the political parties in Andhra Pradesh have not bothered very much with the Yanadi. But now, with nearly 2,000 of them added to the voting roles, the parties are more likely to pay attention to them, particularly in the small city of Machilipatnam. But the first Yanadi to actually run for an elected position was Nakka Hanumanthu, a 43-year-old crab hunter who had run for a position in 2013 in Marripalem panchayat.

The story in The Hindu was evidently seen as important enough to Andhra Pradesh for another Indian news source to reprint it almost verbatim.