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'Democratic' Politics in India: Why my Vote Counts

Continuing with the theme of 'Children and Youth Speak Up' for the month of October 2020, we share below a piece written by a youth who is in grade 9 and lives in Delhi. This piece of writing emerged from research conversations between youth participants and Rabani Garg, around issues that are important to them or issues that they have been thinking about, especially this past year. These young people are Rabani's co-researchers in a study on youth positioning on social media. They study in Grades 9 to 12 in schools in New Delhi, India and live at a Children's Home. Since 2016, Rabani has worked together with them on different writing projects, created a blog, invited guests for conversations, and co-written with students in a different country.

Well, first of all, I have picked this topic because there are just a few years left for me to get into the whole voting thing!

I think that whenever a person talks about India and then further talks about politics, the first thing that they say, (and that is probably the thing that comes out so prominently) is the statement that 'India has a democratic government', but never do they complete the whole phrase which is, 'India has a democratic government which is based on religion'. I believe that religion plays an important role in politics and that is what makes it an interesting topic to talk about. Because there are people in India, who just cast a vote for the party that they 'hate the least'. And there are so many people, who get confused after getting to know that votes should be cast, based on the so-called 'good work' of each political party. This is because political parties hardly do any good work. And then finally, the mention of the holy cow comes in, which makes many people vote for that particular party (I would not mention the current ruling party here, but I hope you get the idea).

Now if I talk about the voting phase, there would be way too many points. So, I would like to talk about the last few months- the decision making of Prime Minister Modi in the current scenario of COVID-19. The government's first mission was accomplished after getting the citizens to 'bang pots and pans' on their balconies on March 22, to show their appreciation for the doctors, nurses, and others on the frontline of the battle against Covid-19. The virus itself would have felt ashamed after knowing this! Then, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on television to ask his fellow citizens to light candles and switch on mobile flashlights for nine minutes on April 5, to mark the fight against the disease. "TO FIGHT" are the words my dear friends, and believe me, the coronavirus 'flashlight mob' was just another borrowed idea. I believe that the government has not handled the situation well. I think that all this banging of pots and plates and the lighting of candles was done, in order to cover up the fact that the government has failed to solve the real problems of the pandemic situation.

I am currently thinking about all this, as I believe that a single vote of mine counts to form the government which could come into power after the elections. That one vote is my choice and voice that would one day make a government that could change the situation or not, in the country.

Editors' Note: The name of the youth participant has not been shared due to the sensitive nature of the work. Rabani Garg is a Ph.D. Student at the Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania.

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