Do you know the name of your electoral constituency? Or your ward officer? Have you ever voted? Do you know what must you do if you wish to?
Did you answer all the above in the negative?
Financial analyst Gundeep Singh (27) did. Till last month.
Singh studied and worked in cities across India, from Delhi to Bangalore. The itinerant life, coupled with an unhelpful official process, came in the way of him registering as a voter.
Also, Singh admits, he didn’t particularly care.
“When I was 21 and studying in Delhi, I filled up a registration form and submitted it during a drive by a political party. I never heard from local authorities, and forgot all about it,” he recalled.
In the ensuing years, Singh busied himself with life at the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore, and then at Kotak Mahindra Bank. Then, last month, the Jaago Re campaign made a presentation at his bank. Coming close on the heels of the 26/11 terror strikes, it jostled Singh out of his apathy.
“It struck a chord, because it seemed so simple, yet powerful — a solution to the problem. I immediately filled the registration form. But I wanted more involvement, so I offered to become a volunteer to grow the campaign through all the contacts I have made in the corporate world.”
Singh says nine out of 10 peers are like him. “We have never voted. The cumbersome process to register, and the lack of information, puts us off. We find it easier to merely complain. But this is a vicious circle — unless the quality of voters improves, the quality of politics will not,” he said.
Since Singh allied himself with it, he finds the Jaago Re campaign seeping into his life in small, powerful ways. “I am a chartered accountant, and often have to visit the Income-Tax Department, where little work happens without bribes. But today, if an official asks me for one, I will resist because it has implications for all of us. I try to get more aware about who my public authorities are, and how I can get them to address problems.”
(Gundeep Singh (27) is a financial analyst)