Vanshika Mohta tries to feel the pulse of the youth, and an understanding of the upcoming General elections and looks at what we should do, can do and are doing…
Sukumar Sen, the first Chief Election Commissioner of India, said, “the Election Commission’s small contribution to the integrity of the country is to make the country feel united for just one day, election day’. India’s first general elections was held in 1951 and are famously referred to by historians as “the Biggest Gamble in History”. Back then, the fact of India’s survival as a democracy, on paper, didn’t pass the test of basic principles of Political Science, and still doesn’t.
Nehru had reservations about implementing universal adult suffrage; starkly aware of the intellegent choice our people were capable of making. Amidst speculation, apprehensions, celebrations, all over the world and within, we took the gamble, and 176 million eligible people voted.
A party came to power. And 53 years later, amid the same drama, it will happen again. This time you will be a part of it, if you choose to. The election mechanism is as much an appraisal of the citizens as political actors, as it is of the government.
Elections for all
Ankit Sharma, 23, an advocate in the Bombay High Court, believes in democracy. This system of government wages its battles almost every day to prove its worth and we, as citizens, have our roles to play in making it win. The millionaire, the Bengali, the Brahmin, the Christian, the 18 or 60-year old, the Banjara, all stand in the same line, and whatever their value, it is manifested in that one vote.
On the contrary, Sagar Gupta, a law student in Jodhpur, feels that money and muscle power, poverty in intellectual voters, scant resources, etc. have eviscerated the merit from elections. But, while all of that is a reality, he still considers voting a duty, seeing the larger picture. That one vote forms a part in deciding a Government at the helm for five years and for a number as large as 1.2 billion.
Akash Arun has his own theory. A student of engineering, he trusts Newton’s third law — “In return for the life I have enjoyed for almost two decades, using the resources of this country, and the security of my home, I must use whatever power I have to have a say, in which party will govern my family and me for the next five years.”
What do elections mean to you?
It’s imperative to gauge candidates, their rationale when going about voting, feels Akshay Attal, a 23-year-old chartered accountant. There is work. But let’s not betray the appetite with all that’s there on the plate — take out time to listen to speeches, articles and statements, when given instead of lending a ear only when you want an answer.
“I would take opinions from family and friends”, reveals Revathi Anil, a business management student. She is strictly against freebies and ignores the farce of promises materialising just before the D-day. Dhawal Mehta, a chartered accountant, agrees. He makes it a point to follow newspapers and news channels too. Ankit relies on manifestos and track records of parties.
“The Government of Karnataka website is very comprehensive”, affirms Sagar, who hails from Bengaluru, and according to whom the internet can be utilised in a tremendous way to gather information. A website, www.prsindia.org, records the legislations passed by the Parliament, keeps track of all the MPs and has a lot to offer to a voter. Akash is planning to use his December break to do his homework, to ensure he makes the right choice.
For Aashay, public criticism is like placing a leash on the government and is an indispensible tool in a democracy, but the amount of discussion we indulge in, on the plethora of platforms we have available to us, disproportionate to the number who actually pick up the cudgels to act. We have our distractions, we are lethargic and we don’t have any leader to look up to. “If we channelise our energy and become more aware, that’s a start”, opines Revathi. “I feel we can at least take responsibility for our own locality. Community development is the micro, while voting is the modus operandi of doing the same on a macro level”, adds Akash.
The government has a lot to do before it truly becomes our representative. “Regular presentations and meetings to keep the people updated would make them feel a part of the process”, feels Askhay. Dhawal, on the other hand, feels that they can make much better use of the media, write articles and reach out to their people. Akash thinks we need a portal which gathers grievances. There’s plenty for which we can call on the government, but there are certain things to which we need to wake up.
When I cast my vote and when a billion others cast their vote too, it shows that we care. And the message needs to reach anyonewho thinks he can play around with an entire country, loud and clear.