During the National Voters Day function on January 25, our new Governor VK Duggal stressed again and again the importance of the youths exercising their voting rights and asked them to use the rights judiciously without influence from external factors. The Governor reminded the youths that their future depend on the decision they took while casting their votes. The truth cannot be put in another simpler way. Democracy will function only when the people let it function and the youths will have no right to complain later about government policies if they do not vote. The hot topics existing in our society have a direct impact on the future of the youth. The policy that the government makes today will determine the way the present youths will spend in the future. Think about the rapid increase of illegal foreigners and Indian citizens from outside states in Manipur and the social pressures thus created, the excesses committed under the cover of AFSPA, the spiralling unemployment and cost of living, corruption, law and order problems and the list just gets longer. The subtext is if you do not vote you effectively lost your power to have any influence on how things play out in their future.
According to several surveys, the youth have been the decisive factor in many important elections in India. But sadly, election after election, the number of youth voters who actually voted was lower compared to other demographics. As the Governor pointed out, the youth must recognise the right to have a voice in the government and turning out to vote is an effective way to keep the legislators on their toes and ensure that all the political parties keep the young voters in their minds while drafting their campaign manifestoes and preparing their pre-election advertisement. The youth could easily misconstrue that their vote is not much that worthy as an individual. But, they cannot be more wrong. Each vote may sound like a soft appeal but when combined with those of others who share their opinions, it ultimately becomes a voice. When the youths vote as the stakeholders of the future of the state, then the voice will grow louder and it will be heard by one and all.
The other argument in favour of voting is that the youths lose the right to complain about the decisions of the government, however bad they are, if the eligible voters among them do not bother to cast the ballot. If any individual want to criticise the government for truly unacceptable political decisions continuation of AFSPA, stand against ILP system etc then the youth have to endure a walk lasting a few hundred yards or drive down to the polling station and exercise their rights to vote. Next elections, the youths should shelve the devil-may-care attitude and take the privilege of living in a democracy and participate in deciding how the administration is run and by whom. Voting is an extraordinary gift. In many countries people actually fight and many sacrifice their lives to have this right. However, in many democratic countries like India, the citizens take it for granted. The decision against casting our votes have many implications and may be one day if the youths continue to discard this right then they might wake up and find themselves in a place where they cannot vote.