The indifference of the youth to the process of elections is a matter of concern, former Chief Election Commissioner of India Navin B. Chawla has said.

He was delivering the 12th D.C. Kizhakkemuri commemorative oration on ‘Youth's role in democracy' here on Saturday.

Most of the names missing from the country's electoral rolls were in the 18-20 age-group, he said.

“Not impressive”

“The performance of ‘generation next' is not very impressive in the election process. The idea of emerging modern India cannot take a robust shape without the involvement of youth. Their aspirations cannot be understood without their participation in elections,” he said. Systems should be in place to harness the enthusiasm of the youth, Mr. Chawla said. “Universities and educational institutions should help enrolment of students as voters. Citizenship education should be integrated in the curriculum,” he noted.

Extreme pre-occupation with personal agenda was one of the reasons for the lacklustre participation. “Some even blame our politicians and say our youth are disillusioned with them. I am often confronted with the ‘why-should-I-vote' question,” Mr. Chawla said.

Democratic elections provided platforms for citizens to assert their civil and political rights, he said. Pointing to the pain taken by the Election Commission to pick up each vote, he said the commission had 12 men trekking 45 km in knee-deep snow to reach a polling station with 37 voters in Ladakh. A special edition of the Malayalam translation of Mr. Chawla's ‘authorised biography' of Mother Teresa was released on the occasion.

Renowned surgeon M.S. Valiathan, who presided over the function, said D.C. Kizhakemuri was a phenomenon. “His style was laced with humour and the language was beautiful. He had left a deep imprint on Kerala's socio-cultural life.”

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