Most of the people I know did an incredibly wonderful job of exercising their right to vote. I am happy that even if most of my Facebook friendlist is suffering from some sort of Party-fandom, they are atleast becoming more politically aware. The real knowledge and an open mind will come eventually to all of us. These are baby steps, and they are pleasing me. Most of my friends voted. A couple of people I know did not, because they think they could not vote since their home towns were different. A guy I am very good friends with said that he did not vote because his name will appear in Jalgaon. I am not sure what makes him think that because he has been living in Pune since years! My friends who just moved to Bangalore in Nov, or just moved back to India, could register and vote! Well, actually, knowing him, he can be really incredibly stubborn and the least bothered to find out the process to vote. Hmmpphh…
My parents went out to vote really early in the morning. My mum informed me how Kothrud had the second highest turnout in Pune after Kasba Peth. *Pumping fist in the air*. Yet, Pune had just an average turnout. A lot of youngsters who have just stepped out of their teenage years, went to vote. I believe they were lured out more because of catchy slogans and the urge to post their inked finger on Instagram. Search #gotinked and you will know! 😀 But whatever works! Atleast it is a step forward.
My mom told me about three people who did not vote. We have a neighbor, who I will call R aunty, about 60 years of age.. My mom said she said she is not going to vote. She believes nothing happens by voting. What will one person’s vote do. My mom told her to atleast go and click ‘None of the above’ if you feel no one is worthy. But she just refused. “I don’t want to do even that”. My mom said she can be very very stubborn. ‘Adiyal’ is the word in hindi. Then another neighbor who celebrated her 30th birthday yesterday and recently got married, N, she mentioned to mom that she wonders if her name would be there or not, she wasn’t sure. She wasn’t even sure of the procedure to register. According to my mother, she really lacks any knowledge of current affairs. She doesn’t subscribe to newspapers and doesn’t watch news. Whenever her brother comes for a visit from the UK, he is the one who starts a paper subscription. All this is pretty much expected from her. The third person is our maid, S. Her reason was that her husband said that there is no need to do it. Again, one person not voting or voting does not make a difference. My mother somehow told her that India has given one single and only good right to the people, and that is to exercise our vote, and she doesn’t want to do that also! But then her husband has the last word. *Shaking my head*
I looked at all these three women and realized they come from different backgrounds, are of different ages, and have a very different status from each other. Yet, their awareness level is so low. Sure, things haven’t improved in the past. But what makes them have that attitude that it just will not happen? One small little right has been granted to us, and they want to give it away. Clearly, just being highly educated isn’t everything. I hope sometime in their lives, they will understand this small responsibility of being a citizen.
As for me, I have signed every petition I have come across to make the Indian govt make amendments and give Indians living abroad the chance to vote. The PM proclaims that NRIs are very important and there are Pravasi Bhartiya days organized. The Supreme Court directive that the EC should look at ways to make sure that NRIs get a chance to vote even if they are not physically present in their constituencies, is a very hopeful sign. It will not be possible this time, because the elections are already underway, but atleast should be on for the next elections. It is a welcome break from the usual ‘Indians living abroad gave up on India’ opinion. Yes, I know people who put up statuses on FB ridiculing us students or workers for being vocal about politics. I just roll my eyes and move onto the next item on my newsfeed. This article will shed more light on the topic of NRI votes. I have voted before when I was in India for the state elections, and I hope I can always do it.
Anyways, as I mentioned earlier, these are baby steps. And baby steps are so much better than no steps at all. So I am happy.