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Young voters, celebrate the Diwali of Indian democracy

March 05, 2014 17:58 IST

Nobody is claiming that Indian democracy is perfect. Yet, all of us need to go out there and participate in the incredible event called Indian elections. Sheela Bhatt explains why.

India is going to polls!

It is a grand moment. We need to congratulate each other.

The political event involves over 81 crore people and is still an orderly one.

India's 128 crore people will have a new government in New Delhi on the evening of May 16. More than 81 crore Indians with an equal number of preferences will cast their votes for their choice.

More than 10 crore young Indians, barely 18-19 years old, will speak out about their political preferences for the first time.

The rare thing that works in India is the genuine support to the efforts of the Election Commission. The organisation’s duty is to provide physical and psychological protection to every voter in the country so that he/she can walk down to the electoral booth and exercise his/her franchise without fear.

The massive exercise will require more than Rs 1,000 crore. The process will also involve over nine lakh booths and more than 10 lakh people, directly and indirectly, who will ensure that India goes to vote without any bloodshed.

It is widely expected that the ruling political dispensation will be kicked out by the electorate and new challengers will find themselves in the seat of power.

This will be done sans any military coup, by upholding democratic traditions and by simply pushing a button on the electronic voting machine.

This is not just an incredible event but it is also a valuable one in a world that anyway has to witness too many coups, military interventions and too much blood round the year.

India, in the 21st century, values democracy more than ever. This is the third parliamentary election in the 21st century but this one, it seems, will help India surge ahead.

There is a positive vibe all around.

The voters are feeling more aware and better educated due to the advent of technology in everyday lives.

Better education, higher literacy, mobile phones, social media and television is helping them play an important role.

Indian voters -- urban and rural, poor and rich – know that at last, every vote COUNTS.

Young Indians, with dreams in their eyes, are fearless and impatient. They are being inspired by the Election Commission’s PR drive on why they should vote and how they should vote.

The people of India -- informed and even the not-so-well-informed -- know now that Nirvachan Ayog (Election Commission) is an important institution. There are many more vocal Indians today who value honesty and want stronger systems to help India grow. For them, democracy is important.

The day of voting is like the Diwali of democracy.

They, the voters, know.

They feel good after voting. They show off their inked-fingers and take selfies.

These young voters supported the national movement against corruption because it was perceived to be an honest movement.

Of course, nobody is claiming that Indian democracy is perfect. Far from it.

Money power and muscle power spoil the party. The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party -- the ruling and opposition parties at the national level -- are part of an overall degeneration.

Huge unaccounted money is spent and no convincing answers are given.

But, more than ever before, Indians CAN go into the privacy of an electoral booth, cast their votes and feel safe.

This is not enough but it is important nevertheless.

The situation is better for voters who are under social, political or some other kind of pressure, who are vulnerable.

In this round they have Rahul Gandhi -- the leader of a time-tested party who is lately facing the ire of the people whose daily lives have become difficult due to price rise and corruption -- as a contender.

They also have, before them, Narendra Modi, who is bold and ruthlessly ambitious. Modi is promising them a better India and a better tomorrow.

They have before them many regional leaders -- from All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati -- with whom they have an affinity and a sense of familiarity.

They have on offer Arvind Kejriwal, a new maverick who thinks and speaks out of the box.

This election is also about questioning those leaders who did not deliver good governance. This election is about questioning the leader who was once accused of favouring one community over another.

This election will see an awakening in India.

This election will see the youth power of India.

Indians are not ready to wait endlessly for basic necessities like roti (food), kapda (clothing), makaan (house), bijli (electricity), health, good roads, education and jobs.

We want all of it and we want it right now.

So, we shall vote. We must vote.

Image used for representational purpose only

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi