My Vote My Right: Understanding the Idea of ‘Democracy’

My Vote My Right is a radio program designed to raise voter awareness.

This episode features a ‘jagalikatte’ scene where women sit and chat about the elections. Priyanka is excited about the upcoming elections and Manjakka raises the question, “What is there to discuss on this? We have to just go press a button!” Priyanka then explains that it’s very important to vote, that our vote is our right. Vijayakka then speaks up, “Who will bother about these elections? I am not interested to vote!” Shantakka, agrees, “I am going to my mother’s place, I will not be voting.” Usha has a complaint, “How can we go so far in this hot sun? It’s very difficult.”

Priyanka repeats that it’s our right to vote. “In the future, if we want to ask for any facilities – like water supply, public toilets, drainage system and many more – we can confidently declare that, yes, I have voted and I have the right to ask!” Vijayakka mentions, “One lady here has a very old person at her house, she can’t come to vote by leaving her, and in another place, there is a person who uses a wheelchair. In this hot sun, how can they come to vote?” Priyanka then says that we have to take responsibility for everyone and somehow make sure that all reach the booth to vote.

Asha requests Priyanka to share more information on the idea of ‘Democracy’. Shantakka says, “It’s very sad that you don’t know about this. Democracy is the idea that an elected government is by the people, for the people, and of the people. What we need and what we don’t need is something we can demand of our leaders. ‘Right’ and ‘Responsibility’ are like two sides of the same coin. We have to make sure that we know what are our responsibilities and what are our rights. That’s why we should not miss the chance to vote! If we choose the right person and vote, then we can build good governance. Depending on the work done by these leaders in the past, we can vote for them; and remember, we have to press only one button beside the person’s name. This time let us all go together and vote the right person.”

Dr. Priyanca Mathur Velath is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Research in Social Sciences and Education, School of Humanities and Social Sciences. “We are in the month of March 2019, with the very very important political event of our next general elections coming up. Elections to vote our 17th Lok Sabha into power will succeed only when we all vote. Democracy is most vibrant and it blossoms during the time of elections. Unless each one of us goes and votes, we lose the right to critique our Government, and this is what is happening nowadays. We should take responsibility to bring about change.”

“To understand the importance of Democracy, just think of a state without Democracy. Imagine all that you have today was not there! Today, we are able to sit and talk about Democracy on a radio show and share our opinions. In many other countries and regions, citizens don’t have the right to even talk about Democracy. So, let us value what we have. We are responsible for voting and bringing to power the so-called leaders; if they misuse their power, then in the next elections, use your vote so that they won’t come to power again.”

How does Democracy work? “We follow the Federal Democracy model – the ideas of power and decision-making are not centralised and are not related to one group. It flows downwards to all the various parts of the Government which are part of the decentralised federal form of Government. We are one of the most robustly functioning Democracies in the world which follows this decentralised federal model of Government. We are a model for many other countries. However, there are various issues which have to be addressed and no democratic system is perfect anywhere.”

Listen in for more…

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