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Voting For The First Time? A 3 Step Guide To Help You Decide Who To Vote For

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By Bhanvi Satija:

Dear first time voter,

With the Delhi Assembly Elections right around the corner, it can be both intimidating and exciting at the same time to be a first time voter. However, now that you are eligible to vote, and since you are one of the smart adults who applied for the voter registration on time – be glad and proud that you get to vote in the elections 2015. The national capital, in fact the nation at large, is currently undergoing a radical shift in politics after being ruled by the Indian National Congress for most of our years of independence. And you my friend, are an important decision maker, an almost game changer in this shift of politics in India, more specifically the national capital.

Picture Credit: UNDP in India
Picture Credit: UNDP in India

Being a first time voter, it can be extremely stressful to come to terms with the big question – whom will you vote for? As per our system of elections, we vote for a candidate, not a party – even though a candidate’s party affiliation is an important criteria for judging the candidate. The problem arises when you pick up the newspaper or tune into a news channel and realize that there are so many candidates, you don’t know who to start from. Moreover, most of the mainstream media will only add to your anxiety by bringing to light the recent controversies – who said what against/for whom, which is sadly not a criteria that one should be basing their judgement on. Added to all of this are rallies and campaigns which can also be slightly misleading – especially when certain parties decide to base their campaigns on the popular faces, rather than the chief ministerial candidate. In such a scenario of chaos and drama, how does a first time voter make a decision? The level of anxiety rises as we count days left for the election – February 7 isn’t that far away. Here are a few guidelines that might help make the task easier:

1. Know your constituency – The first step is to know which constituency you belong to. The constituencies for the state assembly elections and the general assembly elections differ – make sure you know both of them. Even though a simple Google search would inform you about your constituency, the official election commission website is a great source to look at –www.eci.nic.in

2. Know your candidate – It’s important to know all the candidates that are contesting elections. However, once you know your constituency, talk to people around you – family, elders, neighbour. An interaction with these local sources will give you information regarding the popular local leaders in your area. To filter out candidates from the huge list, start your research with the popular ones – know what is it that has made them popular in the first place and whether or not are they worth the fame. Also, make sure to draw a comparison of the popular leaders with others, especially on certain basic criteria that suit you, for instance – education, criminal cases against the candidate, the quality and quantity of work done by the candidate in previous terms, etc. Another factor that might help you filter out your candidates could be the party affiliation. It’s important to know the party of the candidate because their party affiliations are often representative of their ideological inclinations. Try to research on the independent candidates in your area. More often than not, promising candidates are potentially more susceptible to be ignored than a candidate contesting elections from a party’s ticket.

3. Vigilance is important – Elections are the time of vigorous campaigning by all candidates and their parties. The amount of money that goes into a campaign could also be one criteria of judgement. This information, even though not so easily available by research, can always be based on one’s own observations by looking around and attending rallies and campaigns by the different parties. It is also important to not be swept away and base your decision solely on these campaigns and advertisements. In fact, one should be observant and careful while having a look at the advertisements and campaigns of the parties – and compare their campaigns.

The battlefield is all set for February 7, 2015. While you count the days left for the elections, the major players of these elections – Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party – move around the capital to perform flash mobs and street plays as part of their campaigns. The third player, Congress, is trying it’s best to slither back to lost glory. Let’s not waste this time wondering whom to vote for – let’s get down to work and make the right choice.

The big question thus becomes – Are you ready to vote?

You must be to comment.
  1. Saravana

    Yes, it is time to do some research before voting for a right candidate.

  2. Owl Baya

    Awesome article! You should be writing for Al Jazeera or Huffington Post or something.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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