Indias young population is considered its biggest demographic dividend yet it is mostly missing from voter queues during elections,denying itself a say in the largest democratic exercise anywhere. This Wednesday,’The Indian Express’,in collaboration with Janaagraha,will conduct I Count camps in Delhi,Chandigarh,Pune,Kolkata and Lucknow to help enrol students,aged 18 and above,for voting in the Lok Sabha elections starting April 16.
The Janaagraha will assist students in filling forms electronically. Hard copies of requisite documents and forms will be handed over to representatives from the Election Commission office. The idea behind the camps is to not just promote voting but also create a platform which will allow students,first-time voters enlist in the rolls and actively participate in elections.
Manu Singh,Regional Outreach Coordinator (North) of Janaagraha,estimates that young voters make 30 per cent of the voting population. According to him,most young people do not participate in the electoral process because they are disillusioned with the system. Through this initiative,we hope to make them realise the power of the youth which can bring about positive change. We will facilitate the process by registering students and keeping them informed about the election processes through alerts, he said.
Top colleges in each city have been selected for the camps Venkateswara College,SRCC and IP College for Women in Delhi; Symbiosis,MIT,Modern College and College of Engineering (CoEP) in Pune; SD College,Punjab University,DAV College and Government College for Girls in Chandigarh; Presidency College,Lady Brabourne College,Bethune College and Jadavpur University in Kolkata; and,College of Arts in Lucknow.
Praising the initiative to bring the electorate process at the doorsteps of students,Manasvini Yogi,member of IP College for Women Media Coordination Cell,said: It is a very good effort by the newspaper to come up with such an effort. Sometimes students are too lazy to visit Election Commission offices. The concept comes as a special boon for hostellers.
Vidya Yerawadekar,Principal Director of Symbiosis,said: It is a wonderful initiative for the benefit of students. If we want young leaders,we must get the youth to come out and vote. Many students,especially those who have recently crossed 18 years of age,have wanted to vote but did not know the procedure to get themselves registered. They are excited about this process,and we will ensure that they get registered.
First time voters are normally very excited about the voting process. This is a very good chance to get themselves registered. Our students are enthusiastic, said Anil Sahasrabuddhe,Director,College of Engineering,Pune.
In Kolkata,most colleges are busy with examinations and student body elections but there is considerable excitement about the I Count camps. Sanghamitra Mukherjee,Principal of Lady Brabourne College,said: Most of our students join college at the age of 18 when they are eligible to vote. We think it is the responsibility of the parents and the institutes to enrol the names of students so that they can take part in the electoral process. We welcome The Indian Express initiative to register the voters.