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Vote for tolerance

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Poll duty: NLSIU students filling forms for enrolment in the voters’ list
Poll duty: NLSIU students filling forms for enrolment in the voters’ list

DEEPA KURUP

College students want to have their say in the general elections

Touted as the country’s knowledge capital, Bangalore, with its many professional and non-professional colleges, has scores of students making it their temporary home. Even as the country braces itself to face the general elections, do these students, often from different parts of the country, plan to cast their vote?

The Hindu EducationPlus spoke to students from different courses studying at the National Law School of India University (NLSIU). Many of them are first-time voters, and those who are not are registered on voters’ lists elsewhere in the country.

With a little help from their college management, these students have enrolled themselves en masse in the voters’ list and have decided to exercise their right to vote.

So, what motivated these young minds to vote, and what are the issues that will be atop their mind as they make this decision? Here’s what they had to say:

Poong Khulali (final year): NLS-ites have not been able to vote as they are enrolled in their respective hometowns. Even if they want to participate in this process, often bogged down by term tests and assignments they are not able to make it to their hometowns, which are really far away. So far, 200 students came up, and the management has been particularly helpful and encouraging.

We are trying to get as many people to vote. Several students in this city find themselves in the same boat, which is why we decided to go ahead and just see what can be done about this.

Overnight, registration forms and voter awareness notices sprung up on notice boards and classrooms. These conscientious soon-to-be lawyers claim that recent incidents of moral policing, lack of safety for women in the city and religious polarisation are a few issues that prodded this young electorate into action.

Kushal Bhimjiani (fourth year): Recent events have generated quite a bit of debate on campus. A place like the Law School makes you think and form your own opinions — be it recent pub attacks in Mangalore or rising (illegal) vigilantism.

Things have been such in this city that we are made to feel unsafe to roam the streets — be it in upmarket Indiranagar or near our college. It is an increase of rowdyism that we perceive.

As law students, and as citizens, we felt we must vote, and make whatever difference we can. Many of us are first-timers and the students’ body is helping them vote.

Mihir Naniwadekar (fourth year): I think it is important to vote to make yourself heard. There is no other way to feel like you are part of the system in a democratic set-up. I will be going back to my hometown Pune to cast my vote.

This time around, I feel, there has been lot of campaigning as a result of which there seems to be more awareness and will to vote. However, until the actual voting day, it will be difficult to tell whether this enthusiasm will translate into action.

Issues I would base my decision on are: corruption, affirmative action and religious tolerance levels.

Divya Shenoy (second year): I believe that anyone above 18 should vote. The low voting turnout shows the apathy of our generation.

This is the one power that citizens have in their hand. People seem to not believe in the political system anymore, and it is this very problem that will ruin the system eventually.

As a resident of Bangalore, safety is the biggest issue that we are facing. We believe and hope that by voting we can make a slight difference.

Nationally, I feel that safety, terrorism and the economic crisis are the main issues.


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