Guiding Light: The Right To Be Heard

Guiding Light: The Right To Be Heard

Ritesh AswaneyUpdated: Friday, May 03, 2024, 10:05 PM IST
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Vote: A strong chorus is made up of individual voices | Representative Image/Pixabay

Man is a social animal, naturally implying that we like being with our fellow humans, whether they be in work or leisure settings. It was natural then that as the world evolved, we saw monarchic rule give way to the will of the people, or democracy. Whilst one may argue that democracy may be as old as mankind, the first identifiable signs of it were in ancient Greece in about 500 BC. However, like most things, humanity didn’t get it right in the first shot, women and slaves were excluded from this right, which meant only 1 in 4 ancient Athenians could exercise their right to franchise. As late as the early 1900s, women didn’t have a right to vote, until the Suffragette movement took Britain by storm, eventually securing suffrage, or the right to vote for women over 30 in 1918 and finally all women above 21 in 1928.

India has had her own share of struggles through plunder by both ravaging conquerors as well as imperialists, who didn’t syphon off material wealth, they also plundered the minds and bodies of citizens, denying them a voice. Independence has cost us the youth and lives of several hundred thousands, therefore we must never take lightly the right to vote. Today, India is on a growth trajectory that is the envy of the developed world, thanks to its young population and new found resolve, self-belief and pride in its culture and traditions. And with great power comes great responsibility, it is incumbent on all of us to exercise this precious right to be heard, where democracy, the great leveller, gives every Indian, man or woman, prince or pauper, precisely one vote.

Even today, there exist countries where people don’t have a right to be heard, and feudal warlords and hereditary dictatorships reign supreme. We have got so used to the scent of freedom, that it almost becomes too easy to take this most fundamental of rights for granted. The importance of supporting Dharma, or the right way, can’t be said more eloquently than as is found in our ancient scriptures, including the Mahabharata, Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah — Dharma (the right way) protects those who protect it. It’s therefore incumbent on all of us to perform this sacred duty in this great Mahayagya of democracy, that is the Indian elections.

Nothing in life is perfect, so we can either pick holes in things as they stand, and crib along the sidelines, or resolve to be part of the system, in whatever capacity our life circumstances allow, and contribute to the development of this ancient stream of consciousness, that is Bharatvarsha. A vote is the least onerous and one of the most important one of those activities, and even though it may seem insignificant, remember that a strong chorus is made up of individual voices.

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