As I walked into the polling booth, there was an unprecedented sense of equality that I envisage nowhere else. No one was treated as VIP there. A plumber was standing behind me, a watchman in his uniform was in front of me, a corporator of my area was just three people ahead of me whereas a burkha clad housewife two steps behind me. The fundamental right to vote has always been a virtue that is very intrinsic to the nation. Even though democracy has its own set of challenges, the democratic right to vote has been one of the great levelers of the Indian polity. As I was on the field to see the election progress, I saw BJP candidate Gopal Shetty standing in line at J B khot school and other common public who came their also standing in queue along with him. Voting is a fundamental right provided to citizens; it is a license to seek faith in an idea or an ideology and it is a license to impose your thoughts on shaping the future of India.
Standing in the queue, I noticed a man (whom I knew) who was sitting in the poll booth. He was helping in the electoral rolls and was assisting in the electoral process. By profession, he is the owner of an ice cream parlour near my residence and he is around 55 years old. Pleasantly surprised, I walked up to him and asked him what brought him here. He said in a firm yet nationalistic tone “My country brings me here”. He had the spirit to volunteer and be a part of the largest electoral exercise the world has witnessed. More often than not, in the presence of the politicians, we tend to oversee the phenomenal work that the Election Commission of India has done. The EC, by far one of the best institutions that India has created, oversees over 930,000 polling stations in more than 28 states in 9 phases. The number of people involved in the entire process is a staggering 10 million including the security personnel involved in ensuring a free and fair election across the board. Considering the tenacity with which elections are held in India, the EC’s role is even more challenging considering the ruthless competitiveness of the polls. In addition, the EC has to look at innovative ways to improve the democratic process since there is no replica model that can represent the complexity and diversity of India’s people and its own polity. A large part of the success of the EC belongs to the common man; the volunteers who cut across caste, religion and social dynamics to contribute to the world’s largest electoral exercise. The elections are a leveler even at an organisational level and the voluntary spirit provides the strength to the entire exercise.
Compared to previous elections (I have voted in all the elections since I was eligible including assembly and corporation) there was slightly an increase in turnout this time around. With turnouts clocking at almost 48 per cent in my constituency as compared to 45 per cent the last time I voted, it is apparent that voter’s awareness has increased enormously over the years. The spirit that drives Indians to vote, especially the young and the old, abodes well for a strong democracy.
The ability for one to feel a part of a bigger decision making process, however marginal it might be, creates a bigger purpose for us. In a time where the state as a form of identity is waning due to globalisation, such unique instances bring up the idea of a bigger purpose with regards to a state. This is more pertinent to the young and the old since they are very interested in bringing about change but do not have the means to do it. While the young feel they want to shape the future, the old feel that they owe it to their younger generation to shape the future. Our single vote can empower them.