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Can urban India afford to be pretentious and conceited when it comes to elections and voting? Why is it that we don’t take this right and responsibility seriously enough?
Mumbai goes to polls on 29th April and it’s going to be one long weekend and many of us have marked our calendars and itineraries. Hope more people don’t hit the holiday trail, because the loss is ours entirely, if we missed out to press the right buttons.
We are not without our problems… our monsoons fail, rivers dry, irrigation projects stalled, roads potholed, constructions work of flyovers, roads and highways time barred, our cities sink every monsoon and bridges collapse… people die! Yet we don’t go out and vote, because ‘koi bhi aane do kya farak padta hai?!‘ (doesn’t matter who comes to power, what does it matter?)
Urban India makes for 18% of the electorate, i.e. only 89 of 543 seats, and 16.4% of the Lok Sabha seats, so if we care why our cities are woefully neglected despite our huge revenue contribution towards the exchequer, we must realise we don’t constitute a voter bank for political parties.
We slugfest on TV studios every time a bridge collapses, garbage overflows, epidemics break out… we go blue in the face for the neglect of our infrastructures, however, we forget that the only way to make our voices heard is the ballot box, not the idiot box. If we must reclaim our city spaces and our right to better life, it’s possible only through the ballot.
We’ve heard that before – ‘sab chor hai’ (all are thieves). What’s the point? Everyone’s corrupt, it’s all muscle power, money power and connections.
Let’s face it people there are no ideal candidates, you could be disappointed looking at the clean, non corrupt guy with a heart of gold. But, if we need to keep our systems functioning properly, we need to find the right people for the jobs.
Why women must take politics seriously? Who said politics is for men? Why should men decide our fate, when women form 49% of our population i.e. 600 million women – that accounts for 9% of the global population?
As per the NSS 71st round report the overall literacy rate for men is 75.7% and 62% for women.
In rural India 72.3% males and 56.8% females, while in urban India 83.7% male and 74.8% females were literate in the year 2014 so it makes sense that urban women have a greater responsibility towards voting and democracy.
133 million young adults will get to cast votes in 2019, of which 63 million will be young women and of the new voters 73% live in rural India.
The election commission will be setting up special all women staffer booth for facilitating women voters to come out and cast their votes in few states to encourage women voters.
In 2014 women made for 11.8% of directly elected members of parliament out of 542 i.e. 64 members in Lok Sabha and 11.4% out of 245 members of Rajya Sabha i.e.27 members, sadly the much debated women’s reservation bill that promised ⅓ reserved seats in parliament didn’t see light of the day.
Women’s participation reached a record high in 2014 general election with 260 million and the women turnout was 65% against the 67% of men which is nearly the same and half the Indian States the percentage of women voters were higher than male.
In 1962 the first general election, 3.7% of candidates were women and 2014 only little over 8% of candidates were women and nearly 7.3 % for state office were women, so it’s a man’s world for you to see.
One of the major reasons is patriarchy where wealth, power, and authority are controlled by men in Indian societies. It is only with improved education and financial empowerment that women have created a space for themselves.
Price rise, unemployment, safety and security of our women and children, religious polarization, caste divisions are all important issues for women who are equal stakeholders in society.
We find that most men vote on caste and communal lines, religious ideologies, political leanings employment and development.
Traditionally women were told by men whom to vote for, and often families voted as a block for a particular party. Religious organisations hold great influence in electoral patterns.
However, the 2014 general election saw a swing in the voting patterns where women decided on the basis of their outlook on politics, economics, safety and social security issues and development, which made political parties create manifestos to woo women voters, like the Bihar election saw women vote for liquor prohibition as it affected their families and societies. So no longer can women be swayed by families or political agenda if they’ve got their hearts in the right place.
Unlike the farmers, small traders and underprivileged communities, people in cities are not drastically impacted by political situations and ironically, despite greater education, better careers and modern lifestyles there’s a marked disinterest towards going out to vote.
Frankly, it’s like we from the city don’t give a damn.
In fact rural India takes bijli sadak pani issues seriously, despite overwhelming poverty and illiteracy and ignorance.
Perhaps, is it that we hate the idea of queuing up in the hot sun at polling booths or waiting in dirty smelly municipal schools or make shift polling stations, far removed from our sanitised world of tissues and wipes, though we might be more comfortable waiting for tables at air conditioned restaurants, malls or airports.
We’re derisive of political parties, greasy or paan chewing khadi clad people, arguing in TV studios, boardrooms, office desks, paan ki dukaan.
We find politics and politicians dirty and unscrupulous, but aren’t we responsible for letting them become that way?
Women must stand up to be heard and counted, and if we hope of a better tomorrow and for our future we have a reason to go out and vote.
Women keep your date with ballot in the spirit of democracy, GO GET INKED.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: YouTube
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