“Right to vote” is the major advantage a citizen can enjoy in the country. In India, Article 326 clearly mentions the entire norm for “Right to vote” which makes a person eligible to execute his right. Election 2014 is a major event that will be witnessed by the entire world. Approximately, 814.5 million people, the largest electoral population in the world, will cast their vote for 16th Lok Sabha Election this year. The election will be conducted in nine phases starting from 7th April till 12th May 2014, which is also the longest polling period. The election will be the most expensive general election costing around 35 million Indian rupees.
Today my purpose of writing this blog is to find out whether we, the electoral population, are really that keen in participating in this mega event of the country. So far my investigation shows “No”. I have seen people discussing politics flipping newspapers over tea in the morning, while taking bus or cab to their office, over regular chit-chat, in the gym, watching news analysis on TV or just about anywhere possible. Narendra Modi and Rahul Ghandhi had always been the hot topic of discussion. The social sites like Face book and Twitter are filled with updates on every event related to Election 2014 by its users.
I too discussed about this event at my level. My first interaction was with my house help. She is an old lady in mid-fifties. Her family consists of her husband, four sons, their wives and children. Bottom line is from one house there were total ten people who can cast their vote for the upcoming general election. I was quite excited to ask her about her plans for the election in the city. Her answer was very meek. According to her the upcoming Lok Sabha election had nothing to do with them and the people in her locality. They are only concerned about the State Assembly Elections. At that time, the candidates contesting the election visit them at their door step and distribute goodies like blanket, mosquito net, liquor, money to lure the voters. She said that it is the only time when they really get something for casting our vote. The parties also arrange for vehicles to ply from their locality to the polling booth during the day for the voters. But nothing of the sort is happening during the upcoming general election in her locality. So nobody is interested in casting their vote. When I questioned her why she wanted goodies for casting her vote she replied that they hardly receive the government subsidies that are announced for people like her. It usually ended up somewhere in the long chains of the babus, government officials, and there is nobody is to listen to their pleas. During State elections they raise their issues to the visiting candidates who promise to help them if they come to power but during general elections they are unable to make themselves heard as the candidates hardly campaign in their locality. I explained her that casting her vote for the centre can change a lot in the state to which she replied the people don’t know where Delhi is so why bother?
“Why Bother??” The words kept echoing in my mind. Have we really developed the way we swear we have or just an advertisement to wave our thoughts. I met a government official who was displeased to know that he had been appointed for the election duty. He shared his thoughts for defying the order openly with me. According to him, he has served the government for considerable time and no matter how good his performance is he won’t be promoted further in his service tenure. So why should he slog in the summer heat. Also if he defies the order he will be suspended from the duty for six months which will give him much need time to build the first floor of his house for which otherwise he will never get leave. Moreover, during his suspension period he will be entitled to seventy five percent of the salary which will be enough to keep his expenses running. So he doesn’t have to worry and after six months he can join his services again on full salary. What a full proof plan!! If a person working in the government department thinks that way for the elections then why can’t the people.
Some more excuses I would love to share here. I asked my neighbor the same question and her take was she would not like to waste her child’s summer holidays. She would rather enjoy the wedding of her relative during that time. Somebody else told me what is going to change if she cast her vote. The corruption, unemployment will still remain even if she exercised her right. So what’s the point in slogging in the long queue to cast her vote? Another acquaintance replied he had been traveling so hard the last few months that taking another trip to his hometown just to vote will be a waste of his energy and money. Moreover, he said, he has been residing in another city for last few years for his career so what was the point in casting vote for his home constituency. It was correct as whatever changes the government bring to his home state he shall not be benefited. Rather he will gain from the place where he is currently residing. But he could not register for voter card in the current city as he was not sure how long he will continue his job in the same city. For better career prospects he has kept his options open and he will move out for better opportunities. I found the country losing a potential voter here for career reasons but then there are thousands like him. So are we not losing on all of them?
I spoke to another lady. She had been married recently and shifted with her husband to a new city. She was searching for a new job. When I questioned her she answered her interviews maybe lined up during that period so it would be impossible for her to fly down to her hometown to cast her vote. Like others she too did not take the agenda of “Employment for all” in the manifesto of the parties seriously. If people don’t vote, then how the agenda can be implemented remains a big question for the future of the country.
Another person very well known to me have been licking the pages of the newspaper every morning and trailing the news channel almost whole day to keep him updated about the Election 2014. Not only this, he has also been sharing his view points about the parties and their agendas with all his friends and relatives helping them make up their mind for choosing the right candidate. However, with so much homework done this person plans to travel out of the city for some official work, which he says are more important for him, on the day the election scheduled in his city. What a waste of such analysis I would say if you cannot take the responsibility when called for.
With so much said now I will share my views on Election 2014. The event is definitely going to be a major turning point in the history of our country and I am proud that I shall be a part of it. But apart from that there are few changes that I think can make a big difference in our voting system. I feel instead of several phases of polling we should have only single day voting in the entire country. It may sound irrational but then if we can take our exams on a single day in the entire country, celebrate festivals on the same day throughout the country, celebrate 26th January ,15th August, Gandhi Jayanti on the specified date all over India then why not elections. Somebody said it is not possible due to lack of manpower and security reasons but I think if the entire operation is decentralized on area basis then the load will automatically be less.
If the ward in each constituency is further subdivided then I think it will be better administered. For example, if a gathering is announced in the neighborhood rather than in a different part of the city everybody can join in easily. So there are more chances of involvement in the scenario rather than being a mute spectator on TV news. Like my ward consists of several small colonies and I know all the families in my colony. So the accountability is more in smaller areas. Single day voting will also help people in many ways like work will not hamper, people will converge down to their mandate without any further influence from outside like the opinion polls and news analysis on electronic media and election campaigns. Influences like these should be stopped on a single day throughout the country before the polling. As far as security and man power is concerned for single day voting all over the country I think disintegration will automatically impose responsibility on the people at the grass root level who otherwise feel left out during the event. Involvement in any event makes a person responsible.
Another very effective way to increase the number of vote is through online polls. Today’s generation are prone to “clicks” more than anything else be it ordering pizzas, buying movie tickets, online shopping, bill payments, banking. Think of anything and it is available online through few clicks. So why not voting?? Today due to many reasons the youth keeps changing their location. Jobs are the biggest factor. Other than that there can be some other reason too for leaving the home town. Where ever they go they do not register for voter card which means our actual mandate is losing a huge majority which mostly consists of educated youth. And if they come to cast their right I am sure India will definitely move towards progress. Our election commission have recently started online voting for the armed forces after 67 years of Independence. I wonder what took them so long. People of India should have the authority to vote from anywhere in the country rather than their polling station. But yes the vote should be counted in the respective constituency of the person where he is registered as a voter. Moreover if the entire procedure of registration can be online, why not voting then? Tapping today’s career oriented educated youth is very important if we really want to bring a change in our society.
All said for now. Happy Voting.