Sixteen months ago, Natasha Kewalramani, Keya Madhvani and Neha Dhawan of St Xavier’s College, founded iVote, an organisation dedicated to making the Indian youth aware of the need to register their vote. Today, iVote has swelled into a mobilised group of students which seeks stronger youth participation in politics. At the last general elections, the voter turn-out in the age group of 18 and 23 was an abysmal 17 per cent.
With the support of AGNI (Action for Good Governance and Networking in India), iVote has conducted Voters’ Registration and Awareness drives across six South Mumbai colleges. Several colleges had a representative each at the drive. Natasha and Keya filmed a short documentary featuring Milind Deora, Shaina N C, Farhan Akhtar and Rahul Bose. The celebrities have reiterated the importance of casting one’s vote.
Bose states, “When you exercise your power as a citizen, don’t ask yourself what improvement it makes. Ask yourself what deterioration it slows down.” Natasha and Keya provided each college representative with a bag of essential supplies, ranging from safety pins to staplers and ribbons, and a comprehensive dossier with all the necessary information.
Vikram Naik, the college representative of Government Law College is overwhelmed’ by the number of eager students on his college campus waiting to sign up.
He says, “The experience has been fantastic. Voting is the best way to be a part of the democracy. Students of my college are turning up in huge numbers to register. Post 26/11, there’s a greater desire in the youth to see a change in the system. This shows that the youth can be motivated to do something for a cause.”
The surge of applications has prompted the participating colleges to extend the duration of the drive, thus making it a weeklong affair. as opposed to a one day affair. The buck doesn’t stop here for iVote. On the way are a ‘Know your Candidate’ drive and a ‘Wear the Mark’ poster campaign.