Are we sufficiently exercising our Right to Vote?
There’s hardly a year left to the next General Elections. Political parties, with announcements of new policies and endless criticisms, look prepared.
But are we, the people for whom the politicians will be working, ready for the elections?
When the Constituent Assembly was drafting the Constitution of India, the right to vote was included in the document without any discussions or debate. The right to vote is the foundation of our country. Without it, we cease to be a democracy.
The people in the West had to fight hard for this right. In the beginning only upper-class white men were allowed to vote. It took a long history of struggles, protests, repression and persistence before the vote was extended to all men and later, women. However, we Indians did not have to struggle for this right.
Is that why we take it for granted?
Is it because of the struggle we did not have to face to be able to select our representatives that we don’t exercise this right?
I can say with confidence that if the government were to announce that they were taking away our right to vote, there will be an uproar unlike any other. And yet, of all those who would fight the government for this right, only a small percentage will actually go out to vote when the time really comes.
I believe it is a political and moral sin to take advantage of your rights and not perform your duties. Indeed, the right to vote isn’t even a duty – it’s a right, in fact, a privilege that millions of people still don’t have in other countries.
So many people, in the comfort of their homes, watch or read the news and readily criticize every step the government takes, yet when the time comes to actually be in control of what the government does, by choosing the political party that will bring the changes they want to see, only a small percentage will actually go out to vote.
Are you being a good and responsible citizen, parent and Indian, by not going out to vote? Who we allow to sit in the Parliament today not only influences the next five years but several years of the future. The government may be gone, but its impact remains. The wounds left by the Emergency and the Babri Masjid demolitions are still bleeding and the role of government in influencing the course of action in these cases cannot be denied.
Millions of young Indians who graduate school each year and start college as they turn eighteen –adults – are enthusiastically prepared by parents and teachers for brighter futures – the right degree , the right college, the right job. But how many are prepared to be good citizens?
Turning eighteen allows them to own their driving license, yes, but it also gives them the right to vote. How many teachers and parents point this fact to the kids? How many of these children – or should I say adults – are encouraged to go out and vote?
Because after all, these young citizens have their whole lives ahead of them, so why shouldn’t we encourage them to vote for the politicians who work on the causes they believe in too?
So many of us readily vote for our favorite singers and dancers on reality shows - why don’t we show the same enthusiasm and readiness during the elections? Most campaigns urging viewers to go vote surface only around the time of elections. But whether or not an election is approaching we should tell our kids to apply for a Voter’s ID the same time they are applying for a driver’s license.
We have been given this precious right – we shouldn’t take it for granted.
There’s still time for the next election – so if you haven’t already, apply for a voter’s ID here, and don’t forget to vote.