The right to be heard

Political Awareness

The right to be heard

The City voted this Sunday and many Bangaloreans were keen to see how many youngsters turned up at the polling booths. Despite notions that the young population of the City is largely indifferent to politics, many believed that there would be a good turn-out of college students and professionals exercising their right to vote. To a certain extent, this was true — there were some politically-aware young citizens who made it a point to vote. Most of them, however, seem to feel that they are a minority.

Minu Ittina, an entrepreneur in her mid-twenties, for instance, has been voting consistently for the last few elections. However she points out that not many people in her peer group feel that it’s important. “I didn’t see many people of my age at the booth today,” she states, adding, “I asked a few of my friends yesterday whether they’d be voting, but most weren’t planning on doing so.”

She feels that partly, this nonchalance can be attributed to the fact that not many youngsters are politically aware. “It’s important to exercise your right to bring about change. And there are many youngsters who do — but unfortunately, not all of them. Some try to keep their distance from politics because they are sceptical about whether politicians can actually bring in change,” she says.

On the other hand, many young college students were excited about voting for the first time. Nikita, a final-year student of Baldwin Women’s Methodist College, was one of them. However, because of a problem with her Voter’s ID, she was turned away.

“Many people feel that youngsters aren’t politically aware but this isn’t the case. I think this is because candidates have taken to social media and are connecting with the youth through measures like personalised messages,” she says. In her opinion, it’s impossible to downplay the importance of voting. “At the end of the day, the future of the City is in our hands — if we don’t exercise our right to vote, we have no right to complain about the condition of Bangalore,” she adds.

Hani, also a final-year college student, points out that the youth isn’t disinterested in politics.

“After voting, I checked my Facebook page and saw that several of my friends have posted updates about their voting experience,” she says, adding that many of her peers were looking forward to voting for the first time.

At some of the polling booths, though — such as the one in Kaikondrahalli — there wasn’t a strong presence of the City’s college community. Lakshmi, a software engineer, who cast her vote at Kaikondrahalli, says,“It’s true that I didn’t see many youngsters at the booth today but possibly, with more awareness, there will be a greater presence of the youth in future elections. Perhaps many of them doubt the capability of the candidates, which is why they feel that voting won’t make a difference,” she reflects.

Her husband, Shashidhar, a software engineer, stresses that this trust issue is something that can’t be ignored. “The problem is that many people have a tough time picking candidates — there isn’t any trust. At the end of the day, it boils down to that,” he states. Payal and Chirag, both engineers, also made it a point to vote this Sunday. Although there were other young professionals at the booth, they admit that they didn’t notice many teenagers doing the same.

Payal explains, “Youngsters don’t always understand the many problems the City is facing because they live in a sheltered environment. It’s only when you begin to earn and live on your own that you get a better understanding of them — as well as the need to vote to ensure a capable candidate is elected.”

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