“Vote dalne jana hai, apna farz nibhana hai!”
This and many such slogans are a part of today’s mainstream media, isn’t it?
Very soon we will have elections in our country and an unprecedented 90 Cr people will be eligible to vote. Now, this is as an event in itself gives me goosebumps. The idea of so many people participating in a singular exercise is unheard of.
This reminds me of a personal incident that I would like to share with you today. As we know many colleges in India have a system of electing a student as a General Secretary who can represent the student body.
Now, when I was in college one fine day in my third Year I was called to the Principal’s office. I was then handed over a letter that said I was the GS of the college. I was a little puzzled because I had no clue why this was happening. For sure there wasn’t any nomination I filled up or an election that I campaigned for.
The Principal looked at me with a grim face and informed me that as I had topped the college in the SY, I was “selected” as the GS. The conversation or rather the monologue ended there and throughout the rest of the year, I had not performed a single duty as the GS. I was the rubber stamp GS that no one in college, including myself at times knew about.
In hindsight, I understood why the college had done what it did. Earlier, grand elections were held to elect the GS. Students campaigned big time and slowly political parties became a part of college-level elections. This led to disturbance and eventually, colleges came up with this snazzy little trick of “selecting” the GS rather than electing one.
Now, this works alright on paper but I always felt that it kind of kills the much-wanted lessons of democracy in the students. So when we set up GGIS and when our students were even close to understanding what elections/democracy is, one of the first things we undertook were student body elections. This when the oldest child we had in the school was only 14 years old! We sat with them and discussed the need for a student body and how we can have one. The election dates were declared and the campaigning began in full swing. Did it lead to parties being made and groupism? Yes, a little but the bigger objective of having the students make informed choices about who is to represent them was achieved. Even students as young as grade 3 were found asking the campaigners what their agenda is and how they will help if they are elected.
Now, isn’t that what true democracy looks like?
Educational institutes are the bedrock of a nation. If they shy away from elections and nip the democracy at the bud, is it any wonder that we face a lack of leadership at a national level?
We need to move from our dining room politics discussion and dive deep into active politics. The future is too precious to be left at the mercy of the unworthy.
While our students are too young to vote for a couple of more elections, I hope that when the time comes for them to vote, they vote for a candidate after due research and diligence.