J S Saharia: Let us make this a people’s movement, Sanjay Deshmukh: I urge the youth to exercise the power to vote and select the right candidate
MUMBAI, (GNI): Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in collaboration with MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) and University of Mumbai organized a seminar on ‘ Mumbai Rise. Mumbai Vote’ to increase awareness among citizens and youth to exercise their franchise in the forthcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in Mumbai on 21 February 2017. The seminar focussed on the mindset of the potential voter and the cumulated effects that contribute towards the decision of casting their vote, how their mindset can be made to undergo a material change and how they can be made to feel that vote will make a difference.
Mr J S Saharia State Election Commissioner, State Election Commission, Maharashtra said “25 February, 2017 is observed every year as National Voters Day with an objective to educate young people to enrol as a voter and exercise their right to vote.” He shared statistics on the voting turnout in rural areas in the state which was above 70%, whereas that in the urban area was very low. While the voting percentage in all Municipal Corporations in the state has been around 55-56 %, Mumbai alone accounted for 44-45%, hence forums such as this need to be conducted to build awareness among Mumbaikars on the need to vote.
Citing the huge significance of the forthcoming BMC elections in the state Mr Saharia said that 26 Zilla Parishad’s and 11 Municipal Corporations will go to polls on 21 February 2017 in which the people of Maharashtra which vote to elect around two and a half lakh persons to form local bodies. To enable such a challenging decision making the State Election Commission is leaving no stone unturned to ensure maximum voter education and participation by use of modern technology, social media, mobile apps, massive publicity drives in institutions, banks, corporate houses, NGO’s and rallies. He also said that to ensure transparency and fairness, candidates standing for elections have to open separate bank accounts and exercise control on expenditure, violation of which can lead to deregistration of political parties. Mr Saharia called for a people’s movement to improve the voter turnout in Mumbai and urged the youth to take it up as a responsibility to exercise their franchise.
Expressing concern on the dismal voting percentage in the city, Mr Sanjay Deshmukh, Additional Municipal Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai(MCGM) said that the average voting percentage has been less than 50% in the past three civic elections (around 44%) in Mumbai. Highlighting the findings of a recent study done by the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics on the voting pattern in the city, he said that only 23% of youth in the age group of 18-35 years go for voting whereas in the age group of 36-50 years and 50 years and above the percentage in high as 50%.This statistics is of concern as it contradicts the belief that it is the young generation that is more keen to vote. This was one of the reasons behind targeting youth in today’s seminar. Talking on the profile of voters, Mr Deshmukh said that the survey revealed that 65% of voters came from an illiterate to basic school level background while the graduate to post graduate profile of voters was 24%.
He also stated the top five reasons for not voting that the survey revealed. He said that the State Election Commission has introduced several new features for the forthcoming elections such as profiling the candidates in the newspapers and which will be also displayed outside polling booths thus enabling the voter to make an informed decision. Congratulating CII on organizing a seminar to spread voter awareness among youth and citizens in Mumbai, Mr Deshmukh said that similar interactions must also be organized in the other municipal corporations in the state that will go to the polls on 21 February, 2017.
Quoting Martin Luther King Jr ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter’, Mr Ninad Karpe Deputy Chairman CII WR said that Voting is as much a responsibility as it is a right. He urged the youth to make an informed decision and cast their vote in the forthcoming civic elections in Mumbai. He said Confederation of Indian Industry(CII) has been proactive is spreading the word among members in Mumbai, youth and society at large and will continue to partner with BMC and Mumbai University in promoting voter awareness and responsible voting.
An interesting Panel Discussion was moderated by Mr Ninad Karpe, Deputy Chairman, CII Western Region and Director Aptech Ltd. The panel comprised of Dr Anil Patil, Director, Board of College and University Development, University of Mumbai, Ms Kashmira Mewawala, Head – Business Development & Chief Ethics Counsellor, Tata Capital Financial Services Limited, Ms Dharna Dhamija, Deputy General Manager, Tata Sons Ltd, Dr Ajit Ranade, Senior President & Chief Economist, Aditya Birla Group and Prof Manasi Phadke, Economist, Gokhale Institute of Politics & Economics. The Panel members gave their views and suggestions on ways to improve the voter turnout in the city and exhorted the youth to make an informed decision to vote in the forthcoming civic elections.
The session ended with the youth and all participants taking a pledge to exercise their right to vote in the forthcoming civic elections.ends