The chances of achieving an increased participation in the electoral process this year turned several shades brighter on Wednesday with the launch of a non-partisan campaign titled ‘One Billion Voters’.
Undertaken by a Bangalore-based NGO Janaagraha in association with Hindustan Times, MSN India, Tata Tea and Map My India, the initiative aims at achieving a high turnout in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore and helping the youth make an “informed choice”.
“The campaign is actually a long-term initiative to improve the working of our democracy during the next five to ten years. With the national elections just around the corner, it will, for now, focus on getting the voters out to vote and helping them exercise their franchise wisely,” said Jasmine Shah, campaign coordinator,
Janaagraha, at the launch marked by a panel discussion on the ‘role of youth shaping its democracy’.
Moderated by Sanjoy Narayan, editor-in-chief of Hindustan Times, the discussion wasn’t just limited to the panel — comprising filmmaker and a member of the advisory board of the OBV campaign Rakeysh Omprakash
Mehra, NDTV Group Editor Barkha Dutt, actor Rahul Bose and Microsoft India Joint MD Hemant Sachdev — but was enriched with inputs from the members of the audience as well. Questions pertaining to the issue of engaging people, especially the youth, in improving the functioning of our democracy beyond general elections fuelled the debate and discussion to quite an extent.
Commenting on the issue, Dutt said, “An engagement in the democratic process beyond the elections can only exist if the people learn to feel like stakeholders in the entire process. Discussing politics isn’t considered worthwhile and we are more inclined towards political bashing. This has to be done away with or democratic change will remain a five-yearly event.”
For actor Rahul Bose, curing governance of corruption topped the list of changes that need to happen immediately. “For most people, corruption isn’t even an issue and this shows that we’ve made peace with this malaise that exists in the system. This can be changed if we all exercise morality at the individual level.”
The event was wrapped up with the launch of the website (www.myobv.org) which will primarily disseminate information on the candidates and constituencies and in turn help voters make an informed choice.
As for increasing turnout, the NGO will conduct door-to-door awareness.