Debates on Critical Issues are Missing from Elections

Debates on Critical Issues Missing from Electoral Landscape

Ayan Singh, a Btech from VIT, Vellore who will vote for the first time, says citizens must rise above caste or religion when they choose their leaders. His views:

As I prepare to cast my vote for the very first time in the upcoming elections, I find myself deeply disheartened by the prevailing caste and religious politics that dominate the Indian political landscape. It is dismaying to witness both major ruling parties engaging in a relentless pursuit of power, primarily through the exploitation of caste-based and religious sentiments rather than genuine concern for the welfare of citizens like me. Either Parties are doing divisive politics or appeasement politics.

As a young voter entering into the democratic fray, I had hoped to witness substantive debates and policies addressing critical issues such as inflation and the overall economic condition of our nation. However, these concerns seem to be overshadowed by the relentless focus on caste and religious identities, which serve only to polarize our society further.

It is evident to me that neither of the major parties is genuinely interested in addressing the real issues that affect ordinary citizens. Instead, they appear to be preoccupied with employing clever public relations strategies to garner media attention and win votes. The rampant use of caste and religion as tools for political gain is not only disappointing but also detrimental to the progress and unity of our nation.

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As I reflect on the state of affairs, I am convinced that my vote will not be cast in favor of either of these parties. I refuse to contribute to a system that prioritizes narrow political interests over the broader welfare of the populace. My dissatisfaction stems from the realization that our political leaders have failed to rise above their own ambitions and egos to truly prioritize the needs of the people they are meant to serve.

What I yearn for is a political landscape where parties earn their accolades not through media stunts and identity politics but through substantive actions that resonate with the aspirations of the common man. A party’s commendation should emerge organically from the people, signifying genuine efforts toward progress and inclusivity.

As a first-time voter, I urge my fellow citizens to rise above the allure of caste-based and religious politics and demand more from our leaders. We must shift our focus toward issues that truly matter – economic stability, social welfare, and the pursuit of a more equitable society. Our votes wield immense power, and it is imperative that we use them judiciously to propel our nation toward a future that embodies unity, progress, and fairness for all.

I believe that the time has come for us to collectively demand accountability and transparency from our political representatives. Let us strive to move beyond the shackles of caste and religious politics and embrace a vision where the welfare of every citizen takes precedence over partisan interests. This election, I pledge to vote for change – a change that transcends divisions and fosters a brighter future for generations to come.

As told to Deepti Sharma

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‘I Am Thrilled to Become a Voice in the Grand Chorus of Democracy’

Kriti Bhargava, an undergraduate at FLAME University, Pune who is pursuing a major in Public Policy and a minor in Economics, offers a first-time voter’s perspective. Her views:

As a student of public policy with a minor in economics, I find myself at a crucial juncture in my civic journey – preparing to cast my first vote in the upcoming elections. This milestone not only marks my formal entry into the democratic process but also represents an opportunity to engage critically with the policies that shape our nation’s trajectory.

Voting for the first time is an exhilarating experience filled with a sense of pride and responsibility that comes with exercising one’s democratic right. I vividly recall the anticipation and excitement leading up to the day, a feeling heightened by the guidance and support of my father, who helped me navigate the process of getting my name included in the voter’s list. What struck me most was the noticeable change in the ease of application, a seamless transition facilitated by online registration without the hassle of bureaucratic hurdles or the spectre of corruption. It’s truly a surreal moment to realize that I am now a participant in shaping the future of my country through the power of my vote, and for that, I am grateful to the government for streamlining the electoral process and making it accessible to all without discrimination or favouritism.

Over the past decade, India has witnessed a multitude of policy reforms and initiatives under the leadership of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). As I prepare to exercise my democratic right, I cannot help but reflect on the impact of these policies on the socio-economic landscape of our country.

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As a student, I am particularly appreciative of the significant strides made by the government in the realm of education and human capital development through initiatives which have helped foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and academic excellence, laying a strong foundation for the future of India’s youth.

One of the cornerstones of the NDA government’s educational reforms is the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which aims to overhaul the traditional approach to learning in India. By emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, and multidisciplinary studies, the NEP shifts the focus away from rote memorization towards experiential learning, empowering students to explore their interests and passions.

Complementing this, the Skill India Initiative, launched in 2015, underscores the importance of skill development in enhancing employability. Through programs like the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), millions of youth are equipped with industry-relevant skills, paving the way for a workforce that is not only job-ready but also capable of driving innovation and entrepreneurship in diverse sectors.

The government’s commitment to ensuring equal access to education is evident through initiatives like the National Scholarship Portal (NSP), which simplifies the process of availing scholarships and financial aid, thereby enabling deserving students to pursue their educational goals unhindered by financial constraints. Moreover, to foster innovation and entrepreneurship among students, initiatives like Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) and Startup India provide platforms for students to unleash their creative potential and develop solutions to real-world challenges. Not only this, the National Digital Library (NDL) democratizes access to quality educational resources in digital format, empowering students and educators nationwide to pursue academic excellence.

The upcoming elections present an opportunity for me to engage critically with the policies and governance of the past decade under the NDA government. While acknowledging the positive strides made, I remain committed to scrutinizing the government’s performance across various fronts. As I prepare to cast my vote, I am motivated by a sense of responsibility and optimism for the future of our nation. With my ballot in hand, I am eager to contribute to shaping a better, more inclusive, and prosperous India for generations to come. Getting inked is not just about selecting a button, it is about making my voice heard in the grand chorus of democracy, and I am excited to play my part in this vibrant tapestry of civic engagement.

The narrator is serving as the Batch Captain UG2 in the Student Council and has also cleared the National Defence Academy Examination (NDA/NA-149) with AIR 332

As told to Deepa Gupta

NDA Has Put India on World Map

Even As A First-Time Voter, I Can See NDA Has Put India on World Map

Aditya Prakash Goel, a BCom Hons student from Sardhana, says he is excited about casting his vote for the first time and he would want NDA to return to power. His views:

This is my first experience as a voter and I am happy to be a part of the democratic exercise in this Lok Sabha elections. It feels like I am a citizen of a representative state and my vote can make a positive difference.

I believe the nation has not just changed under the current NDA rule but a new chapter of remarkable growth and fast paced development is also being written. India has showcased itself as a trend setter in the last few years. The nation has moved from the politics of hooliganism, corruption and appeasement to the politics of development, growth, unity and nationalism.

This remarkable journey has strengthened democracy in its real sense by empowering the marginalised sections of the society – from the unprivileged to underprivileged, the women and the youth. It also has been a journey of changing the Indian thought process from nothing is impossible in this country to everything is possible if the government and the people have the will and commitment to bring about a change.

The NDA rule has emphasised the motto of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas Sabka Vishwas.

Various initiatives have been taken up by the government in the last few years that have contributed to the development of the country showcasing it globally. Some of the initiatives that show the country has progressed and stepped towards change are:

The power of JAM, Jan Dhan Yojna, Aadhar and Mobile. This trinity aims at maximizing the value of every rupee spent, empower the poor, increase technology penetration among the masses, and implement direct subsidy transfers to the poor. The government intends to use these three modes of identification to revolutionize financial inclusion in India.

The digital India initiative aims at transforming the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, bridging the gap between the urban and the rural areas. The government has truly made tremendous efforts in the making of digital India making transactions cashless.

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Make in India initiative has given a rapid boost to manufacturing. It facilitates investment, fosters innovations, enhances skill development and builds the best manufacturing infrastructures. It is an effort to boost the country’s entrepreneurial energy.

The skill India mission has been initiated to create convergence across sectors and states in terms of skill training activities and promoting handwork and cultural background of the country.

Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana is a rural development programme focusing on development in villages which includes social and cultural development and motivating people towards social mobilization of the village community.

Then there is Namami Gange to arrest the pollution of the Ganga, Pradhanmantri Ujjwala Yojana providing smoke free kitchens by providing LPG connectivity to the beneficiaries, 35 crore Jandhan accounts have been opened as part of Pradhanmantri Jandhan Yojana, nearly 18,000 villages have been electrified and schemes like PM Kisan Samman Nidhi to boost agriculture.

The government has sought to create infrastructure in terms of roads and railways through highways and trains and schemes like UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) have sought to boost connectivity.

During the pandemic, the country emerged as one of the largest vaccine producing hub on the global scenario. In the last few years India has emerged as a significant economic and geo political power on the world map.

As told to Deepa Gupta

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India Has Made Progress But Suppression of Dissent Worries Me

‘India Has Made Progress But Suppression of Dissent Worries Me’

Shruti Mishra (20), a first-time voter pursuing dental surgery at Santosh Medical College, says India’s remarkable development has come at the cost of democratic values. Her views:

As I stand on the threshold of casting my vote for the very first time, a whirlwind of emotions engulfs me. It’s a blend of excitement, responsibility, and a tinge of apprehension. In the political landscape of 2024, I find myself grappling with the complex reality of our nation’s democracy.

Reflecting on the past decade, the tenure of the Modi government has been nothing short of eventful. I can’t help but acknowledge the strides India has made on the global stage under their leadership. Economic reforms, infrastructural development, and initiatives like ‘Make in India’ have positioned our country as a force to reckon with. However, beneath this facade of progress lies a troubling undercurrent that leaves me deeply unsettled.

The systematic dismantling of opposition parties raises concerns about the very essence of democracy. While a strong government is essential for stability and progress, a healthy democracy thrives on the existence of a robust opposition. The suppression of dissenting voices and the erosion of democratic institutions are ominous signs that cannot be ignored. As a young voter, I fear that unchecked power could lead us down a path where democracy becomes nothing but a hollow shell.

Moreover, the neglect of the middle class is a glaring issue that remains unaddressed by successive governments, be it the BJP or the Congress. While policies are crafted and rhetoric is spun to appease the masses, the backbone of our nation—the middle class—is often left in the lurch. Struggling with inflation, stagnant wages, and crumbling infrastructure, the middle class bears the brunt of policy failures and political apathy. 

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Yes, India may have soared to new heights on the global stage, but it’s imperative that we don’t lose sight of the ground realities. A nation’s progress should be measured not just by its GDP growth or international alliances but by the well-being and prosperity of its citizens, especially the middle class—the engine of our economy.

Mishra (right) yearns for a more inclusive, transparent system of governance

As I prepare to exercise my democratic right, I yearn for a political landscape that prioritizes inclusivity, transparency, and accountability. I long to see leaders who listen to the voices of the people, who uphold the principles of democracy rather than subverting them for personal gain. It’s not about blindly supporting a party or an individual; it’s about holding those in power accountable and demanding better for our nation and its people. 

In the run-up to the elections, I hope to see genuine efforts to address the concerns of the middle class, to foster a healthy democratic environment where dissent is valued, not suppressed. It’s time for leaders to rise above petty politics and work towards building a nation where every citizen—regardless of their background or socio-economic status—can thrive. 

As I step into the polling booth, I carry with me the hopes and aspirations of a generation longing for change. My vote is not just a mark on a ballot; it’s a beacon of hope, a declaration of my commitment to shaping the future of my country. And in this pivotal moment, I choose to believe in the power of democracy, in the belief that together, we can forge a better tomorrow for India and its people.

As told to Deepti Sharma

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This Is My First Chance To Cast Vote

‘This Is My First Chance To Cast Vote, And I Feel Proud About It’

Akhshay Kumar Singh, 21, an undergraduate student in Lucknow, says being part of the government formation in an electoral democracy is a great feeling. His Views:

Till now, I was merely a spectator in the electoral exercise whenever elections fever hit the country. With my freshly minted Election Card in pocket, I feel a sense of pride that this year I will be an active participant in the festival of democracy this year when the nations goes to choose members of the 18th Lok Sabha.

I have avid interest in current affairs, and therefore I have been observing things around me for the past several years. I see there is a visible change in everything that governs us of late – be it infrastructure, education, health and overall, the stature of India in the world. Though I am young enough to make a physical comparison of what India was about 10 to 15 years ago, being an extensive internet buff, I have been extensively comparing the present situation of India (in every aspect) with the past and feel pride at the changes being brought about.

I must admit that I did not witness any previous governments other than the current regime but seeing the working and commitment of this government, I feel this is what how the state leadership of any country should be like – inclusive and dedicated for the cause of its people and its polity.

However, sometimes I also feel pity for some politicians and political parties giving absurd logics and making baseless allegations of some issues pertaining to the development or the society of the country. Take for example the Ram Temple – some are fiercely labeling it as a religious (Hindu) ploy of the present government to please a particular section of the voters and going to even senseless allegations saying that it was a program of the BJP and the RSS. The matter is as simple as that – Once a temple existed, it was brought down and a Masjid was built and again a Temple was built after the court’s order. Why such hues and cries in a country where Sanatan is deep rooted and was the original art of living when we came to existence?

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Being one of the first and the youngest voters of my democracy, I am very much excited and have also literally started a campaign, along with some of my friends, to spread awareness. Identify and educate new voters about the process of being enrolled in the electoral list and getting a voter ID made without hassle.

I also feel pity when I see the percentage of voter turnout in the subsequent elections that take part in our country like festivals. Be it any part of the country, it always remains between 40 to 60 percent making a mockery of the immense pains taken by the authorities and the amount of resources (including money) involved in conducting the elections.

More surprising is the difference in the pattern between the urban and rural voters where the latter wins (in terms of turnout) with big margins. If we (urban voters) claim to be more educated and more socially responsible, where does our commitment go at the time of voting? What I suggest is that there should be a system like some western and developed countries where you need to give a concrete reason in writing for not coming out to vote and face a punishment for making a false alibi.

As told to Rajat Rai

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