Even as Gururaj Saileshwar (22) brainstorms on his thesis on designing network for core processors at IIT-Bombay, he spends at least seven hours a day developing campaigning strategies and ideating with others. Ditching paid or conventional summer jobs, he is among the group of students who have joined Aam Aadmi Party’s student internship programme.
“At IIT-Bombay, I have interacted with a closed academic group and have interned with regular firms. But, it’s not everyday that students get a chance to influence voters or get first-hand experience of the working of a political party. In a business company, the environment is more stable and things are delegated to you. But, in an election war room, things are volatile, flexible and keeps you on your toes. I now interact with a lot of people, trying to understand what the person on the street expects from the political system. And one thing is clear, everyone is fed up of political parties promising them the world and then vanishing once elections are over,” said Saileshwar, also in-charge of coordinating with the interns.
Out of an estimated 70 applications for Mumbai, 10 were selected for the full-time programme. First-time voter Tapasya Pandey spends hours strategising what is the right time to reach out to people on Facebook and Twitter, besides designing banners and hoardings, a stint that she knows will help in her UPSC preparation. And for 17-year-old Furqan Meerza from St Andrews College, who is not eligible to vote this year, it is a ‘challenge’ to convince others to vote, chalk out resources prior to campaigns and write letters to seek permission.
“I handle the social media campaign, and work starts at 9 am. We have to plan what we should send out on a particular day, design the text and figure out at what intervals messages should be sent on Twitter as the timing is crucial. We are now planning a video and brainstorming on a hash-tag, which can be used on Twitter, to roll out a 15-day vision statement as a run-up to the polls. I plan to give the UPSC exam and I now know what an MLA or MP does, and what are the functions of the Lok Sabha, among others, through practical experience. I won’t have to mug up things,” said the 19-year-old commerce student of N M College of Commerce and Economics.
Like her colleagues, Megha Diddi (19) from K C College is associated with a particular campaign – adopt your building – through which youngsters ask residents of a particular housing society to encourage others in the building to go out and vote.
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“From creating manifesto videos to handling the technical and social media aspects, students are getting an opportunity to work in an open environment, and understand and execute election campaign. From managerial skills to learning ways to deal with people and work in a team, the exposure is immense. We got around 70 applications, of which 10 work on a full-time basis and 25 work on weekends or as per their convenience as they have academic commitments,” said Pritesh Mittal (22), final-year IIT-Bombay student and a coordinator of the internship programme.