Mumbai: The students of National Service Scheme (NSS) have started an awareness programme in Mumbai colleges to encourage students to go out and vote. Teachers and university officials are also helping in their efforts and telling the young voters the importance of election and their votes. They are told to shed the lethargic attitude usually associated with young voters.
NSS groups believe conducting awareness programmes on college campuses are a direct method to connect with students. Students are educating fellow youngsters on topics like ‘how to cast their vote’, where to vote, what are their constituencies, how to find their name in the voters’ list and how to register.
A large majority of students who are in their first year degree college do not have their voter cards, claim senior students. Arvind Shahane, a NSS student, said, “Many students who have just turned 18 and are in their first year of degree college have not got their voter cards and are not enrolled. Some of these students are clueless about the entire voting process. We inform them about ways to register their names online and enrol in the voters’ list.”
In addition the students are also highlighting issues like ‘get to know your candidates’, local civic issues and suggesting ways to improve their neighbourhood. Prerna Nair, a student, said, “We are informing our classmates to understand local issues in their areas like lack of water or electric supply, damaged roads or waste management. Also, we should know our candidates so that once they get elected we can approach them with these issues and ways to improve our society.”
Teachers and officials of the Mumbai University (MU) have initiated these programmes in order to encourage young voters. Shantanu Kamble, a teacher, said, “We do not want youngsters to waste their vote by being lethargic. They form a large part of our population with new ideas for change and innovation. Voting is the responsibility of every citizen and youngsters should cast their vote.”