University officials sceptical of poll panel’s move to woo youth

March 14th, 2009 - 6:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) The Election Commission is going all out to woo young voters, especially the students, but some university officials feel that the exams may play a spoilsport.
In a meeting held with the officials of six universities Friday, Delhi’s chief electoral officer Satbir Silas Bedi put forward a number of proposals, including setting up of registration centres in colleges, to enable students to register themselves and vote in the upcoming elections.

Kalpana Bhrara, a Delhi University official who had participated in the meeting, however expressed her doubt on the efficiency of the initiatives.

“The initiatives discussed are very good. Besides the facilitation centres, we also discussed about initiating awareness campaigns through the university websites, hoardings, seminars, even roping in the students unions.

“But the point is that it’s exam time in most universities, including Delhi University, and most students are no longer coming to college. Many outstation students have in fact left for home for the study break. Therefore I think we are a little late in coming up with these ideas and initiatives,” Bhrara told IANS.

Similarly Rasika Vasan, a teacher in the Indraprastha University, said: “The last day for registration in the electoral roll is just two weeks away. While the plans discussed for awareness are great, but time is a problem, especially when exams are right around the corner.”

According to an official of the Indira Gandhi National Open University, despite their attempts at spreading awareness and campaigns to ask the students and teachers to register and vote in the Delhi elections last year, nearly 40 percent did not because they did not have a voter’s identity card.

Most of the officials said the campaign should have started earlier.

Bhrara said: “Putting up the message of registering in the electoral roll and voting in the university website and even in the college prospectus will go a long way in stirring awareness among the students.

“But these changes need time and I am afraid we are a little short of time now. However we can always prepare ourselves for the next polls,” she said.

The five-phased general elections will be held April 16-May 13. Delhi votes May 7.

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