‘Greater Participation for a Stronger Democracy’ is the tagline of Systematic Voter’s Education and Electoral Participation program, better known as SVEEP. It is the flagship program of the Election Commission of India for voter education, spreading voter awareness and promoting voter literacy in India. Since 2009, it has been working towards preparing India’s electors and equipping them with basic knowledge related to the electoral process. It’s not a mere dead statement but a slogan which every citizen of a democratic country like India should keep in mind while thinking for the betterment of their life. Activism is all about the endeavour to improve the existing conditions, i.e. political, economic, socio-cultural etc.
The common trend among the majority of us is that we often remain silent knowing the fact that there are problems in the system. Here I am not asking for vigorous criticism of the system by any means -hartal, bandh, vocal criticism or whatever kind of a nuisance, but my urge is to find out a better solution. It just requires self-interest and the hunger to educate the uneducated and the needy. It’s not a big deal I think. However, it requires time and patience. Then the question is why political activism?
Well firstly, political activism is not only necessary, but it’s a must in a country like ours where literacy level is not exactly ideal. Literacy and education are surely the factors affecting the understanding of an individual. Especially in a majority of rural and tribal areas, since a considerable number of voters are unaware of anything happening around their bread and butter cycle. It is not only the political obligation of the ruling party but also the moral duty of knowledgeable fellow citizens to educate them on such issues. Moreover, it should be imparted unbiased and with due care.
Secondly, even the educated do not exercise the power they have in the way they want. Certainly, there are reasons like pressures from family, peers, caste, religion and so on. Sometimes we tend to forget the long lasting benefits in lieu of the attracting packages offered by the politicians which are either unctuous or fugacious. Politicians care two hoots about political activism for the greed of their power and privilege. They want the majority to remain in the dark so that they can be fooled easily. Thirdly, student politics has not flourished as of now whatever may be the reason, be it threat to those in power for pseudo-national integration. Even politicians who advocated for student activism seem aloof to such terms.
Lastly, political awareness among a large section of the society will weed out many faults of the current political system like criminalised politics, anarchical politics, dynastic politics, politics in the name of religion (religious superiority), and so on. Besides, it will reduce the hypocrite politicians to zero and truth will prevail. That is why political activism has a significant role to play in the current sphere of politics.
The activism of any nature is a peaceful process, but it becomes revolutionary sometimes when the authoritarian power uses their extra-constitutional power to curb down such activities. For the personal gains, masses should not be made a victim. In Independent India, political activism started reaching to the masses during the 1970s. Over the period the Pressure groups, social activists and many more have tried to reach out to the people with the intention of raising political awareness among them. The government has also half-heartedly worked towards increasing electorate and has almost left all the other issues like the credibility of the manifesto, criminalised and dynastic politics, a huge expenditure of money in election campaigning etc. Therefore, it remains a problem to be dealt with even today. So, let’s take a pledge to work for better politics and a better India. Let’s learn and spread learning.