1. I got my new voter ID after I relocated to another city. I applied online and the application was processed within a few days! The details were printed on the card without any mistake. I found that the photo on the card looked exactly like me.
(It is said that one’s worst picture will be on the voter id card or the Aadhaar card and the best one is in the Facebook as profile picture. There were reports recently that in 14817 cases Aadhaar document contained photos of wrong persons, and in some cases the photos were of trees, animals and buildings! Incidentally, one of the prominent candidates of my constituency was the Head of Aadhaar project, who left a lucrative career for public service.)
2. In many past elections, my vote was exercised in absentia by disciplined and alert cadres in my village after ascertaining that I had not reached there on the polling day. At least this time I wanted to fail them!
3. A few days before polling, two young volunteers (educated working professionals in large corporates) from the ‘civil society’ came home and handed over the official voter slips. The agents of the prominent candidates came home and handed over the voter slips. I located the polling booth in my residential colony itself on the evening before the polling day. I was inspired by the work of those young professionals and also the fact that the polling station is just a few buildings away! SMS based service to know one’s polling booth was a good innovation.
4. I was an election observer earlier in two sensitive but beautiful states (Bihar and Assam) and was involved actively to ensure free and fair elections there. I thought, if I don’t vote, it would be in the nature of ‘moral turpitude’ and could be accused as a ‘civil offence’ by a ‘criminal’ servant!
5. The new wave in Indian democratic environment triggered by a watchful election machinery and the fact that there is an expenditure of more than ten thousand crore for the government, the interest groups, the candidates and the parties prompted me to step out to register my choice. (See my article on the new strategies adopted by political parties here)
6. I was fascinated by the new developments in the Indian political scene where I could see many new faces without the typical ‘political’ stereotyped positions and appearances, though I may not necessarily subscribe to the views of all of them.
7. My Facebook page was filled with photos of the index fingers (with indelible ink) of friends and acquaintances who voted in the initial phases. That inspired me a lot!
8. I was also inspired to vote because of the spirit of various business establishments and NGOs and their unique initiatives in making people vote this election. In my city, many coffee outlets offered free coffee to the youngsters who voted for the first time. Spas and beauty salons offered 30% discount for those who flash their indelible ink. Several food joints and cinema halls offered special discounts for those who have taken time off to vote. I heard that such initiatives were well received in many other cities too. In Chandigarh, the officials gave surprise gifts and discount coupons to worth Rs 500 to the first 10 voters at all 400 polling booths in the city.
9. The government gave me a paid holiday to cast my vote and not to sit and watch television or to go for a picnic!
I am glad to hear the news that the Election Commission of India has ordered action against a few large private companies for not declaring a holiday to enable employees cast their votes. Since government spends thousands of crores for the election, would it be a good idea to suggest the government to give a day’s wages to all those labourers, the unemployed, and people below poverty line who came to cast their vote?
10. And the last and the most important reason is that it is my fundamental duty to vote as a citizen of the country and it is a privilege conferred on me by the largest democracy in the world. I need to uphold the democratic values of the nation. I don’t want to taste a dictator to know the value of democracy!
|First voter at the Polling Booth. Thanks to my dear wife for the photo|
I reached the polling booth at 6.30 am along with my wife and we were the first persons to vote at 7 am. Then I took a ten hour drive to my native place with family to be with my mother in the evening for the ‘pesaha appam murikkal’ (Breaking of unleavened Passover bread).)
We reached native place 5.30 pm and later, being the eldest (and the only son) in the family, I cut the Kurisappam (Appam made from rice batter but not fermented with yeast. The eldest male member cuts and distributes to all members of the family along with a milk preparation containing banana and jaggery). The day is called Maundy Thursday, a day before the Good Friday.
(Views are personal) © Sibichen K Mathew
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