Voting is an integral part of our college experience. By casting an informed vote, we embody the ideals of a democracy. Not a single vote cast consciously, is a waste.
In a particularly stimulating class discussion a few days before the elections, one of my professors declared that some “elite” colleges tend to think that keeping their students entirely out of university politics in the process of providing quality education, is the way to go. She then went on to say how she wished she had been more politicised in her college days. Within the ambit of a wholesome college education, student politics plays an important role.
As a second year student from a not very politically active college, who hadn’t cast her vote in first year, this conversation had an impact on me. Deeming politics a dirty game and disassociating oneself from it is not going to enhance the political scene. Like many others, I want a change in the political set up of the university. I want the existing miasma of coercion and cunning influence to be substituted by an atmosphere of free thinking and freedom of choice. But really, what value do my opinions hold, if they are not put into practice?
That is where casting a vote comes in. It is the democratic system’s way of allowing us a chance to put force to our beliefs. In an age where we don’t have the freedom of not having an opinion, it is our duty to support a candidate or a party whose opinion parallels that of ours. It is true that no party has a flawless manifesto or a completely blameless panel. However, we do have the discretion of narrowing down on one party whose belief system completely or even partially matches that of ours.
If we choose to remain completely unaffected by the politics of our varsity, we should ask ourselves this- Where is all the quality education going, if not to cultivate an opinionated and free thinking individual?
I read an article which declared that it is better to not vote entirely, rather than casting a misinformed one. In some ways it does make sense. Why must you vote for one party if you’re oblivious of its ideologies and of its history, and only rather charmed by a selfie stick that a party worker has curtly handed to you? However, we’re in an institution where opinions and information are suspended in every atom of air that we take in, and gaining information of the parties from multiple perspectives isn’t very difficult. Of course we don’t live in a Manichean framework. Disparaging between right and wrong isn’t easy. It is probably the duty that we bear to ourselves to assert our individual franchise, or that which we bear to our education that should ideally foster this self-consciousness within us, that should propel us to form an informed belief system. There will always be opposition to that belief, and we should consider the grounds on which they’re based. We may also change sides often, and our opinions may sway. Taking a side will not come quickly or easily, but we should at least try to get there.
Speaking of the NOTA option, 17,712 students voted NOTA this year. The figure is higher than the votes won by any of the four winning candidates. Such a large number of students declaring that they do not trust any of the candidates relay a powerful message. The various parties have to step up their game next year, if they want to win respectably. A NOTA vote is counted as an invalid vote, but it also grants the voter to voice her/his opinion against the existing system.
Whether voting for one party or voting against all, every ballot cast embodies a message from the voter. Each vote culminates into the end result. I personally wouldn’t cast NOTA, as I feel like I’m taking an easy way out. But as I have said, allegiances do not come easy and as college students range mostly from 18 to 21 years of age, simply casting a vote is a statement of assuming the duties of democratic citizens.
Suffrage is a privilege, that as a nation, we were deprived of for centuries. The initial arenas to practise our franchise are our educational institutes. Don’t waste or undermine this fundamental right.
Photo credits: www.indialive.com