November 09, 2008

Election and young people

Obama! The hail was faint.

Obama. A chorus drifted across the hall.

And we knew where the popular vote in Chennai went.

The President-elect is the poster boy of young people in our city.

Evidence of this fascination was in plenty at two halls at the Taj Coromandel Hotel where the American Consulate hosted an event where the results of the election to the White House in the USA were broadcast.

The hosts didn't expect the flood.

There were close to one thousand students who came by to get a feel of the counting process and the analysis that went with it.

Students from over ten city schools let loose their curiosity and then when CNN declared the winner, there was a buzz all around.

Dominating this gathering were young people who should be eligible to vote in a year or two.

One was Kartik Chidambaram son of the Finance Minister and the other, Americai Narayanan. Both Congressmen.

Narayanan, if you recall, was an independent candidate in the last assembly election. He chose to take this path after the Congress did not get this seat in the seat sharing deal.

This was a brave attempt but it did not work.

So when I met him at the Taj event I asked him if you would chance to address such young people at Citi Center shopping mall, on Elliots beach and at Inox theatre and cultivate a new community of young voters who wanted change and wanted candidates like Obama.

We still have not seen young people showing an inclination to take part in local politics the way they are enthused about Obama's campaign and his personality.

The youth who did throw their hats (they had studied at IITs and IIMs) which included a candidate in the Mylapore constituency, got an impressive share of votes. But they vanished thereafter.

How proactive our young people in their neighbourhoods, their communities?

Earlier this week, five girls from a Mylapore school dropped by at our office late in the evening. They were there because Padmini Miss had asked them to. The English teacher had read about our November offer to students to write for our weeklies and coaxed the five to explore this opportunity.

Most of them were ignorant of their neighbourhood. One of them did not even know that a huge nature project was being developed metres away from her home.

So I took some time off work to chat with the five, share some tips and set them on a few assignments.

Rooting for Obama is fine.

What role can you play in your neighbourhood?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Would appreciate if you can read this and put something on these lines in your papers. Obviously not in the very juvenile rant format that I've adopted. Maybe you can even start an awareness campaign, since there are ears that listen to your voice. I've felt about this issue for a long time but only now have I been jolted into trying to do something.