The general election this year will see 43 million first-time voters. This means that people who are your son or daughter’s age could have the power to change the way our society and politicians function. We asked four parents to tell us how they are encouraging their young adults to vote and what could help their children make up their minds.
Ballot talk: Anjali (in a red T-shirt) discusses the coming election with her parents Vijaya Kumar and Rina. Hemant Mishra / Mint
Sanjiv Vinayak Nadkarni, father of Sayali
Concentrate on leadership
Every day, my daughter takes the road where the taxi bomb blast happened on 26/11. It was terrifying to know that she could have been hurt and no one did anything to prevent that attack. To live in a better society, to feel more secure and to change things around us, it is important that the younger generation understands why voting is essential. They must learn early to pay attention to their choice of political leadership. The 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai really drove home the point that if you want good governance, you have to be involved in choosing your leaders. The only way the common man can do that is by exercising his right to vote. At home, we often discuss the forthcoming general election and the need to choose the right leadership.
Vijaya Kumar, father of Anjali
We are encouraging our daughter to read the newspapers and take special interest in the upcoming general election. Her job at Janaagraha (a citizen’s group) is keeping her clued in as well. We regularly exchange thoughts and she keeps abreast of all panel discussions on television. To be able to vote means having the power to bring about a positive change that the country will benefit from, and we want our daughter to understand that.
Rakesh Gupta, father of Anchit
Candidate over party
I tell my son that he should cast his vote based on what a candidate is likely to do rather than vote for a political party. My son is very interested and excited about being a first-time voter and is even a part of the Jaago Re movement (a campaign promoting voter awareness). In fact, he is motivating other youngsters in our colony to vote, too. At present, I am helping him get his voter ID card. He had applied for it but the application was lost, so we have re-registered him.
Anita Kumar, mother of Neha and Kunal
Meet those in power
I have two children who will be first-time voters in the general election this year. My husband thinks it is a waste of time, and they should concentrate on their studies, but I am very keen that they go out and vote. Thankfully, their voter ID cards were made last year. As a student, both during college and postgraduation, I was never counselled or encouraged to vote. It is only two elections ago that I have made it a point to start voting. A friend of mine is related to the local MLA and I intend to take my children to meet him too so that they can get first-hand exposure to how people in governance work.
THE DECIDING FACTOR
For me, the candidate will be more important than the political parties. After 26/11 it is very important that Mumbai has a strong chief minister and that is what will help me decide which party to vote for.
Sayali Sanjiv Nadkarni, 21, professional dancer, Mumbai
I believe the only way we can change the way politicians function in this country is when educated, knowledgeable people make an effort to go out and vote. Three things will matter when I decide who to vote for—the past record of the candidate from my constituency, his or her educational qualifications and what plans he or she has to improve infrastructure in our area.
Anchit Gupta, 18, student, New Delhi
I will be looking at the code of conduct of the candidates and also which party they belong to before I make a choice in favour of a political party or a candidate. In today’s context though, you have to take both the political party and its ideology as well the candidate’s track record into account before making a choice.
Anjali V. Kumar, 21, NGO executive, Bangalore
My mother marks out articles related to politics in newspapers and magazines these days and makes my brother and me read them. As of now I am not sure how I will cast my vote. I think what will tip the balance will be the projected prime ministerial candidate of each party.
Neha Kumar, 21, student, New Delhi