“Let the Gods decide!”
-an infamous parameter used in the popular series Game of Thrones, for taking a decision.
Fortunately, the Indian democracy lets people decide.
With the approaching general elections, the month of April and May account for an important democratic year. One of the foundational elements of democracy lies in the concept of ‘one vote, one value,’ as it gives the chance to each citizen of India (of 18 years and above) to cast their vote, and hence their opinion. Expectedly, there were a lot of fresh registrations this year in the electoral list with a strong representation of the student community.
Students are an important voting sample as with the first-time excitement of voting, comes a greater responsibility of evaluation, learning and making a decision. Also because the student community is the hope for tomorrow, the voting choices made by the students are a strong reflection of the way the future of our country may be shaped. Consequently, this increases the need for keeping some things in mind before making a decision, and not, as with the literal religious politics in India, allowing the Gods to decide.
A group named #DeshKeLiye came to Azim Premji University on March 18. This is a group of various professionals who are doing the voluntary job of spreading awareness about the importance of voting and things one has to envision while voting. With authorization from the Election Commission of India, this group is also registering people for the electoral list. The session gave insight regarding what students must keep in mind while voting.
Being well aware of the constituency, to begin with, and having an understanding of the candidates contesting. There has to be a thorough knowledge about the manifesto of all the candidates, which gives a clear idea of all that is being sold to the citizens during elections. There are several points at which the student’s community must look while casting their vote, as these points would directly impact the development and strengthening of the students’ community as well as the society:
With the ongoing struggles of saving public universities from becoming autonomous, the education system is being deeply threatened. It has to be analysed whether the aspiring parties intend to work on this debate, as well as the policies regarding the fee structure of the universities. The quality of education is yet another domain which needs to be checked and to what extent do the policies envision improvement in the education sector? The students who will be voting would definitely be the ones pursuing higher education, but when we talk of education, the dialogue has to be inclusive of the primary education as well. Students must actively evaluate the extent of primary education which is kept in the election agendas.
This is yet another thing which needs serious attention from all students, looking into the seriousness of the employment prospects of the contesting parties. Employment is in dire crisis, which is to be checked at priority.
This is a domain with which every citizen is associated. It is to be seen by the voting body to make a critical evaluation of the investment plans that the upcoming government makes. This is important to analyse that which part of the population is being targeted in future planning. Understanding this gives an idea if the rhetoric of the representatives are to please the economically strengthened class and enhancing the neo-liberal state of the country. Or whether the manifesto is populist to attract sympathy votes.
Although most college students are the results of modern education, they cannot ignore the level of focus that the electoral promises have on the agricultural maintenance of our country. Farmer suicide rates are a consistent issue in India. Farmers are essential for the survival of our country but today, seven major states of India see a 87.5% suicide rate amongst farmers. Hopefully, students belong to that population of India which bears the energy to understand and dedicate their problem-solving capacity to this issue.
This blanket statement is an indication for each one of us to focus and figure out whether the claims made by the promises are about real issues mentioned above, or whether the dialogue is majorly about religious tensions. A large chunk of the population associates strongly with the Ram Mandir, a long-lived tussle. Even if religion is brought into play, it is to be evaluated whether the content is towards secularism or deepening the religious tension.
These points are still some of the many which a voter must keep in mind. Young minds have to prove that being young isn’t a mark of getting swayed in rhetorics easily. At this point of time, when even a month is not left for the elections, the voting power of each individual must not be misled in any emotional way, but the power of the vote must be exercised consciously with full awareness.
For the students, especially for those who are away from their native constituencies, there is a provision of updating their names in the electoral list of their current place of stay and can vote from the current constituencies. This can be done online on this website. All that needs to be uploaded here is a passport-sized photo, an address proof of the current place of stay and a birth certificate proof. The change of constituencies can be done by visiting Form 6 and Form 7 on the website.
To all the readers, it is a humble request to kindly not take election day as a holiday. It is much needed, in the scenario of dying dissent and misleading politics, for all of us to come out and exercise the power our one vote holds. Each vote counts and makes a difference, all that needs to be done is taking the effort to make the difference.