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Youngsters log in to vote out bad governance

This is the most important election for 30-year-old Pankaj Kataria, an executive with the BPO, NewGen, in Delhi, reports Avishek G Dastidar.

delhi Updated: Apr 23, 2009 01:14 IST
Avishek G Dastidar

This is the most important election for 30-year-old Pankaj Kataria, an executive with the BPO, NewGen, in Delhi.

This team leader from Sonepat was preparing to set up a permanent base in the Capital when the global recession brought about layoffs in his industry, and made him look at his priorities in a new light.

“For the first time, we have the most reasons to vote,” said this young middle-class migrant worker — pretty much the face of the new economy — trying to live his dreams in the big city. “We need a government that can protect jobs, so we can take the next steps in life,” he said.

Kataria and his ilk, the young workforce engaged in the BPO/ IT industry in Delhi and the NCR, have come out in droves to register themselves as voters this year, to get their collective voice heard.

As many as 42,000 young middle-class workers from Delhi and the NCR registered online through the ‘Jaago Re’ voter-awareness campaign this year. “Those from other states registered in large numbers because otherwise their votes go waste in their home states,” said Sharat Potharaju of the NGO, Janaagraha, which is running the ‘Jaago Re’ campaign.

“Not voting is not an option because now is not the time to be invisible in the government’s scheme of things,” said 26-year-old Amrita Dhasmana, a team leader with Accenture in Gurgaon. “Financial security and safety for working women are my issues. We need a government with good economics like never before,” she said.

Some, like 30-year-old finance manager Manoj Aggarwal from Orissa, have already taken the next step by investing in a house in Gurgaon. “Issues like law and order, security, and civic amenities are important for me now. So, who becomes the leader from my area matters.”

“It’s a practical need to assert our rights, as we do not live in our native places anymore,” said K.K. Srivastava, another team leader with Accenture.

The Jaago Re team held registration drives and campaigns in the offices of big firms like Google, Accenture, Genpact, Oracle, Newgen and WNS, among others, in the last few moths. In all the cases, the employees posted queries on the website. “We took it up with their managements to hold registration drives on their premises,” said Manu Ahluwalia, Delhi head of the campaign.

Janaagraha believes that all this will have an impact on the overall voter turnout. Potharaju said, “Earlier, a majority of this class stayed away from voting but now they want to get in”.