No Vote No Holiday (15 May 2009)
Despite all the high-decibel campaigns, people in India refused to come out and vote on the polling day. Many were surprised at the extremely low voting percentage registered, particularly in the urban India. It seems despite all the prodding, the youth in big cities did not turn out at the polling booth. The educated middle class took advantage of the holiday on the election day and relaxed at home. I was aghast to discover that a lot many celebrities who had campaigned in favour of voting had forgotten to get their names registered for voting. At the last minute, they were calling up their VIP friends to arrange for voter registration. This hypocrisy is not going to work.
It is high time now that the Election Commission should come out with adequate provisions. The appeals and awareness campaigns seem to have no impact on the stubborn voters. It is time that voting is linked with some incentive or otherwise.
There is a suggestion by Kiran Bedi that instead of declaring a holiday on the polling day, people who want to vote should be given a half day’s leave. Another suggestion also stipulates that only those should be entitled for a holiday who actually go out and get their finger inked. Those who simply sit at home to enjoy an extra holiday need to be prodded enough to vote. If it is mandatory to close government and private sector offices on the day of voting, it should also be mandatory for the employees to go out and vote.