Metrolife: What first-time voters want

(Clockwise) Musa,Annie, Shibani, Anvitaa, Sonu and Vishal.

They are talking about bus and Metro connectivity, smoother traffic, and an end to moral policing. 

First-time voters are all excited about the elections coming up on Saturday, and they have a set of concerns. 

On invitation from DH Metrolife, college students spoke about what they were looking for in the new government.

Infrastructure

Bad roads are a major grouse. Musa Shahed Sait, third-year BCom student at St Joseph’s College of Commerce, wants smoother better roads and smoother traffic.

Said Vishal A, MBA student at CMR University, “They dig up well-tarred roads to lay electricity or water lines. It is such a waste of money and effort.”

Sonu Fakiha, third-year BA student at Jyoti Nivas College, rued the inordinate delay in completion of road building. “A road near my college was under construction for months. It was very difficult to commute; we had to take longer roads to reach our destination.”

Annie Abraham, third-year BCom International Finance student of Christ College, says bottlenecks on busy roads like Brigade Road cause people to be stuck in traffic for hours. 

Musa is concerned over the lack of parking space. Multi-floor apartments come up where single-family bungalows existed, and don’t provide enough parking.

“Residents’ vehicles and those of their visitors choke the roads in front,” said Shibani Shekar, first-year student at BMS College of Engineering.

Storm-water drains are blocked and roads are flooded during the monsoon. Vishal said his clothes and shoes were ruined while navigating roads flooded with rainwater mixed with sewage. 

Transport

Anvitaa Kumar, third-year Media Studies student at CMS Jain University, wants better bus connectivity. “We have to take two or three buses to reach some destinations. Compared to other cities, we also pay a higher bus fare here,” she said. 

“The Metro project is taking so much time and still feels like a pilot project. There are few stations,” pointed out Musa, while Annie spoke about how Whitefield remained disconnected from many parts of Bengaluru. 

Vishal voiced his anger over politicians who ask people to use public transport but never travel without a fleet of 15-20 cars. “For one person to pass by, roads are blocked and we are made to stay in traffic for 10-15 minutes. Why should common people suffer?” he asked. 

Education

As soon as this topic was introduced, Sonu said that there should be no reservation. “People who are well-read and well-fed play the caste card to hoard benefits. If equality is important, as we all say, then this system should be removed,” she urged. 

Shibani pointed out how she had lost out on the course of choice, despite getting a good rank, because of reservation and management seat quotas, and said reservations should be based on economic status. Annie batted for reservations for transgenders.

Since a good number of educational institutes are private, the government has no influence over their fees or internal matters. To a certain extent, that makes sense, but at the same time, it lets these institutions exploit students, said Annie. 

While Sonu highlighted how government schools failed for want of infrastructure and qualified teachers, Vishal said a remedy was to force politicians to send their children there instead of fancy institutions abroad.

“I feel educated people should be put in positions of power. If a tenth standard fail is made the education minister or a third standard dropout is made the health minister, they will not be able to bring about any change,” opined Vishal to which Annie said that she was not in complete agreement. 

“There are other qualities that a person should possess to be a good leader. I am not completely in support of our prime minister but I think he is a good leader because of the way he turned around the fortunes of the BJP. Another example is Dhirubhai Ambani,” she said.

Musa called for leaders “concerned about the wellness  of people and not just fullness of their pockets.”

Social inclusiveness

Anvitaa started off by recounting a personal experience where a gay professor, who was good at his job, resigned because he was bullied. 

Musa made a fervent plea to all citizens of the state to be more tolerant towards linguistic minorities and outsiders. “It is good to know the language but we must realise that people from different states, who do not speak to our language, also add to our economic growth,” he said.

Freedom

Musa has seen it happen. They see a boy and girl at a park and go on to abuse them and shoot videos. “Culture is fine but freedom is important,” he said. He wants politics and more governance, less communal divide and more unity, less promises and more results.

While Shibani spoke about the need for more approachable leaders, Annie highlighted the importance of leaders being receptive and dynamic to the needs of citizens.

Campus talk

The buzz on campuses is far from positive when it comes to politics. 

Jokes make the rounds on social media and the process is a media spectacle, Musa said.

Sonu felt the major parties were alike when it comes to just making promises and not doing any work. 

Shibani pointed out that young voters like her were of the impression that the elections were a 
popularity contest. 

Annie spoke about how candidates were lowering the discourse by making personal attacks on each other. 

Not many students follow politicians’ Twitter accounts, they said.

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Metrolife: What first-time voters want

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