We deserve the goovernment we get...
Urban India needs to wake up and vote
Pritha Roy Choudhury, merinews
11 April 2007, Wednesday
THE RECENTLY held municipal poll in Delhi has revealed one of the shocking features of today’s democratic India. Residents of posh localities in Delhi preferred to stay indoors and abstain from casting their votes.
South Delhi colonies saw a voters’ turnout as low as 24-25 per cent. In Defence Colony and Saket, it was 24 per cent, in Vasant Kunj 16 per cent, 5 polling booths in JNU, where voters comprise mostly teachers and non-teaching staff, saw an even lower turnout of 12 per cent.
And this is not the first instance. We have been witnessing such occurrence for quite some time especially in the metropolitan cities.
Mysore district in southern Karnataka state witnessed barely 30 per cent of urban voter turnout in last year’s by-elections for the Chamundeshwari Assembly constituency.
We take no time to point our fingers and say that the government has done nothing for the welfare of the citizens of the country. But why do we not realize that it is we the people who are responsible for bringing any leader or government to power.
The right to vote is the greatest power given by the democracy to the citizens of the country. And to exercise that power is the duty of every citizen.
President Abdul Kalam Azad had once said, “large voter turn out will be the first step towards realization of developed India 2020, and the second step would be to become enlightened righteous citizens.”
But are we really concerned about the future of the country or we are happy to fulfill our own selfish motives.
Professor Suhas Palshikar, a psephologist and a professor in the department of politics and Public Administration in Pune University, says that the elite and the educated have easy access to bureaucrats and the political big wigs and this makes them feel that voting is insignificant.
“For an ordinary, poor and less educated citizen, voting is the main instrument of exercising his choice and asserting his viewpoint, whereas, for the elite and the educated, there are many other avenues of political expression. They have relations and friends among the bureaucrats, they have access to the powerful, and they have material resources. Therefore, for them voting is only a nominal and non-significant act,” opines Prof Palshikar.
According to Jagpal Singh, Reader, Political Science, Indira *hi National Open University, the onus goes to the education system, in India. He feels the curriculum, as a whole should be changed which would inculcate a sense of responsibility and respect for values among the citizens and not merely prepare them for specific career oriented-jobs.
“They have become indifferent to the general issues of the country. Though the issues of law and order, inflation, corruption etc do affect the society, these educated well to do people believe that they can voice their views through other forums like television, internet, news paper etc,” said Jagpal Singh.
One of the strongest factors that affects voter turnout is whether voting is compulsory.
In countries like Australia, voter registration and attendance at a polling booth have been mandatory since the 1920s. These rules are strictly enforced, and the country has one of the world's highest voter turnouts.
Several other countries have similar laws, generally with somewhat reduced levels of enforcement. Bolivian citizens who don't vote may be denied 3 months salary.
Imposing such kind of ruling might bring about a change in the overall political scene in the country.