Youth to make conscious choice this electionMarch 3rd, 2009 - 11:06 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) When 19-year-old Amranikunj Upadhyay went to vote for the first time, she played “inky-pinky-ponky” to decide her representative to the country’s parliament. Times have changed. This time, she and her friends will make an informed choice, Upadhyay says.
“A major chunk of youth votes for the sake of doing it. A few even play inky-pinky-ponky like I used to and so many others including old people get influenced by politicians’ money. People are not aware whom to vote” for, Upadhyay, a student of Hindu College, told IANS.
“I realised the importance of voting” for “the right person and I want to urge others as well to wake up and vote for the right leader. I truly believe the future and power of India is in our hands, the hands of youth,” she added.
Most youngsters echo similar sentiments and have resolved to cast their vote religiously every subsequent poll, starting this April.
Ritika Chawla, 22, says: “I will definitely vote. As citizens of the country, we need to be aware of who is leading us. We are part of the earning members of society. Every policy made by the government affects our future. I keep urging all my friends to register themselves for voting and cast a right vote.”
More than just voting, these youngsters are also keen to vote for the most appropriate candidate.
“It’s high time youth started acting responsibly by choosing the right leaders. They make up the maximum active population of India. The government is chosen by a majority of votes and if youth show some maturity by voting sensibly, the leadership of the country might just land in the right hands.”
“The power and voice of youth can’t be suppressed by evils of corruption,” asserts Shikha Pant, 23.
Robin Kumar Singh, a young mass communications student, has progressive views for the country. Unlike many his age, Singh is a step ahead of his peers. He wants to initiate change in the country himself.
“I am confident that 10 years from now, I will contest elections from the Aligarh constituency (in Uttar Pradesh),” he asserted.
Singh told IANS: “We need a change from old leaders and (need to) get some new, more youthful ones. Young leaders will bring with them new ideas and also a new approach to implement those. We should ideally have leaders in the age bracket of 40-60 and have a retirement age for politicians too.”
Many others, like these thoughtful youngsters, have evaluated the significance of their individual vote in the country’s progress courtesy campaigns like ‘Jaago Re - One Billion Votes’, which is a nationwide voter registration drive covering 35 cities.
Susmita, a Delhi University professor, agrees.
“I guess the ‘Jaago Re’ campaign really worked well in making youth understand the importance of their vote. There is definitely growing awareness about the importance of voting. But I feel now it’s more important for youth and people in India to know whom to vote (for) rather than just knowing how to vote,” said the environmental studies professor.
After the success of the ‘Jaago Re’ campaign, several other organisations too have taken such initiatives to motivate one and all to vote.
As part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity, TV channel UTV Bindass recently launched “I Change, India Changes” - a movement that believes in making youth a part of the change they want to see.
As the first leg of this initiative, they took on the mandate to undertake an awareness drive about voting amongst youth of the country.
According to Zarina Mehta, CEO, Bindass, 30 percent of the voting base of India is constituted by its youth (aged 18-30).
“We were shocked to hear that of this only 25 percent are registered to vote of which only 50 percent actually voted in the last Lok Sabha elections. That’s just 12 percent of India’s youth.
“We believe that it is the young people who have the power to transform society with their passion and energy and we want to provide them the opportunity to do so,” she said.
The channel is motivating students from colleges across six cities to perform street plays on voting issues. The winning team will then be on a mission.
The winners will travel across popular youth hangouts in their city to spread awareness among people to make an informed choice during the coming elections.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at Radhika.firstname.lastname@example.org)
– Indo-Asian News Service
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