To increase voting percentage in the civic polls, the University of Mumbai has asked its affiliated colleges and institutions, approximately 300 in number, to carry out an awareness drive that includes padyatras, human chains and street plays at prominent locations in the first week of February. Besides, it has also asked colleges to adopt 20 cooperative housing societies and use social media to make sure students and citizens take a ‘pledge’ to vote.
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In a circular issued Tuesday, MU has asked colleges and institutions to organise padyatras from the Air India Building to Girgaum Chowpatty, Worli Sea Face to Prabhadevi, Dadar (East) to Podar college, National College to Bandra railway station, Mithibai college to Juhu beach, Somaiyya College to Ghatkopar railway station and some other locations.
The human chains will be organised at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Hutatma Chowk, Girgaum Chowpatty, Shivaji Park, Chembur railway station, besides other places. “Every college is supposed to organise five street plays a day in prominent areas and urge citizens to vote without fear. We have asked colleges to ensure maximum participation of students in these activities,” said an MU official.
The official added that the colleges were supposed to form a group of five students each to visit housing societies. “A group should make at least three visits to these societies to convince the residents. Besides, the colleges have been asked to send SMSes asking students and their guardians to exercise their franchise,” he said.
Operation Black Dot, a group of like-minded activists partnering with the State Election Commission, is helping the MU in these activities. “Rather than having a volunteer-driven awareness campaign, we are having an institution-driven campaign. Our attempt is to increase the voting percentage from 40 to 60 per cent,” said Ruben Mascarenhas, chief operations officer at Operation Black Dot.
Ruben said the attempt was to convince youngsters to come out and vote. “Students, their parents, residents will take a pledge stating they will vote. The students will also remind the voters about the pledge and voting,” he added.