Voters, Jaago Re

The last three Lok Sabha elections [2004, 1999 and 1998] have witnessed a constant decline in voter turnout. The national elections in 2004 recorded a turnout of only 57% of the entire mass of Indian voters. A further insight into these statistics reveal that out of the entire Indian demography, 61% of the men and 53% of the women cast their votes. Gender inequality rearing its ugly head here too! The recent state assembly elections did not fare much better either and chances of greater citizen involvement and participation in the future seem bleak. A case in this point is the abysmal urban area turnout in the recent Karnataka elections where only 45% of the electorate turned out to vote.

So, how is 2009 going to be any different? Enter Tata Tea and Janaagraha.

Tata Tea and Janaagraha, a non partisan organisation have joined hands to launch the “Jaago Re! One Billion Votes” campaign. The campaign was launched in September and aims at registering one billion voters, with more than 60,000 denizens already on its rolls. It is a clarion call, especially to the youth, to jettison the cynicism and take the first step towards citizenship – it unleashes the power of one billion voices in nation building. Operating in 35 cities the campaign will allow citizens to register as voters and thus be eligible to cast their votes in the next elections.

The campaign revolves around its website For the first time in India, a website will host an online voter registration engine to allow citizens across the country to fill their voter registration forms in 5 minutes and also get driving directions to submit this form in their city. Hence, the Jaago Re One! Billion Votes campaign is not only a call to action but a platform which provides any potential voter all the information and facilitation he or she needs to become part of the electoral process.

The Jaago Re! Campaign will collaborate and work closely with educational institutions, business houses and non-governmental organizations across the nation to fructify the largest initiative on voter registration ever. The programme is guided by a team of eminent personalities comprising of Narayan Murthy, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, T.S. Krishnamurthy, ex-chief election commissioner and Tariq Ansari, the managing director at Midday Multimedia.

The campaign will eliminate sundry excuses the average citizen usually resorts to, to espouse their abstinence from voting. The Election Commission’s helping hand will make sure the process is simple, convenient and easy this time around.

Nilesh Lodha

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