You must have seen the Jaago Re commercials on TV.
The campaign to get young people to vote in elections. A campaign that Tata Tea is promoting.
The campaign reached our city on Friday.
Two young men - Bala and Daniel - who work with 'Janaagraha', an NGO which focuses on public issues dropped by to talk about the drive.
The Bangalore-based band 'Thermal and A Quarter' was due to perform at IIT's OAT on Friday night as part of the Jaago Re campaign.
Thermal has done well for itself and it has recently produced a song specially for this 'shut up and go out and vote' project that will touch a few metros in the country.
Bala, Daniel and I got talking about this business of getting people to vote. Leave alone young people.
I am not sure we are covering some part of the mile by getting people to vote.
Not when people are not conscious of issues that have a bearing on our constituency, our region and our neighbourhood.
What is my relationship with an election and my elected representative?
What say do I have in the choice of candidates who are put up by political parties?
Are they people I have seen in public or in community life the past few years? Have I had occasions to see these people in action first hand or can I access their track records?
T. R. Baalu was the rep of my constituency in the last Lok Sabha. Because he was also a minister he was busier supervising flyovers and highways. And because he was busy, he chose to spend less time for his constituents. Of course, you could always send a letter to his city office.
So is it enough to get young people and old to go out and vote or is there more that people will need to do at election time?
I believe that the people behind public campaigns like the Jaago Re one should pay attention to local elections, to the most important level of democracy and in a metro, it is our local council.
Then perhaps, young people will see the value of that ballot.
Again, I am not so sure.
Many years ago, a campaign was tried out in Adyar to get the local community to select a 'good' candidate and stand by the person - they got a locally well known woman social worker to
contest the civic body polls.
To win, she required 10.5 percent of the votes.
Over 50% were educated people in the ward. The woman lost. Because most people who said they would vote didn't.
Lets have some hot tea.