March 5, 2009 12:01:10 am
In less than eight hours,as many as 855 students who would,otherwise,not have voted in the Lok Sabha elections registered themselves as voters at i count,an initiative of The Indian Express and Janaagraha.
The campaign was held at four colleges CoEP (85 registrations),two campuses of Symbiosis International University (370),MIT (200) and Modern College,Shivajinagar (200). The actual number of students who turned up at the counters were much more,but many of them did not have the required documents in their possession.
Indias young population is considered its biggest demographic dividend,yet it is mostly missing from the voter queues during elections. The campaign provided them an opportunity to register themselves as voters. The idea was not just to promote voting but also create a platform for the first-time voters to enlist themselves in the electoral rolls. On one of the campuses,even senior citizens were seen registering themselves as voters.
The Indian Express and the Election Commission staff and Janaagraha members were present on the campuses from the morning,guiding students on the process. All the colleges had student volunteers as well. The registration,which began at 9.30 am,ended at 5 pm and the deadline was extended by half an hour on four campuses.
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Prajakta Chavan,a resident of Pimpri who registered herself at CoEP,said the campaign was helpful. Patel Aliya Hussain,a student of Modern College and native of Solapur,said,I was worried whether I would get a chance to vote in the coming elections,as I had not registered myself as a voter. But now,it is possible.
Tanvi Kulkarni,a student who registered herself at CoEP,had tried to do it earlier but failed because of confusion about her constituency. I could register myself here without any hassles, she said.
Nilesh Deshpande,a software professional who had come to register his name at Symbiosis,was happy that he could do it without taking a leave. I got my wife,brother and myself registered in half an hour. I had shifted to Pune from Aurangabad for job and I am happy that I could do it here without running from one office to other, he said.
Bhargavi Shah,a second year arts student of Fergusson College who registered herself at MIT,said she would have never done it at a government office. I am glad the registration process has come out of the government office, she said.
Rohit Nalawade,an MSc student,said,I had thought that it involved a lot of running around. This was,however,a good initiative.
Ankit Shah,an Express Youth Forum (EYF) volunteer at CoEP,said there was confusion among students whether they could vote without a voters identity card. Those who are listed in the voters list and do not have a voters ID card can still cast their vote by showing any other photo proof like a licence,passport or a pan card, he said.
Vidya Yeravadekar,principal director,Symbiosis,said she was surprised to see that her two campuses between them had accounted for 370 registrations. If it was not the exam time,the response would have been better, she said.
Gajanan Ekbote,executive chairman of Progressive Education Society that runs Modern College,said,It was because of the combined effort of The Indian Express,Janaagraha,our faculty members and student volunteers that 200 students registered their names at the college.
Rahul Karad,executive director,MIT,said it was an excellent platform for the youth who are reluctant to visit government offices for registration. I am glad MIT also formed part of the initiative.
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