In a country where red-tape and apathy make the average citizens baulk at registering even themselves for their voter-identity card, the Voter Awareness Campaign (VAC) of the The Art of Living’s Volunteer for a Better India initiative, has inspired thousands of citizens to take the responsibility of transforming apathy into action for India’s 16th general elections to be held over April-May 2014.
The Art of Living tied up with the Election Commission (EC) and other government authorities to raise citizen’s awareness about the importance of voting in a democracy and to accelerate voter-registration. The campaign enabled and assisted the common voter to get their voter’s identity card, and also empowered ordinary people from different walks of life around the country to volunteer and help others get their cards.
Housewives, students, busy IT professionals, entrepreneurs, scientists and government officials powered the efforts of the VAC. Even those ineligible to vote lent their little hands: school-children too urged as much action from parents as august college principals set examples for the youth in colleges. (See boxes).
Says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “It's the apathy of the good people which has brought us to this state. Let the youth and citizens come forward and pledge to give one hour to the nation and volunteer for a better India.”
One youngster who heard this call, was inspired, and turned inspiration to concerted action was Jeetu Pathak, a Research Scientist, who was “ignorant of even the difference between an MLA and an MP.” She began going through newspapers, social media and research papers to educate herself on politics and political processes, and realized that youth, instead of just partying and building careers, must play a vital role in nation-building. She took a decision, and today is a committed full-time volunteer for VAC.
The VAC launched sustained voter-registration drives across 15 States, in over 200 constituencies. Corporates, associations, housing colonies, colleges and other institutes were approached, after taking permission from the Election Commission to submit registration forms in bulk. The VAC volunteers took the statistical data from the Election Commission and developed the strategies for the campaign.
Darshak Hathi, National Co-coordinator for the Campaign, shares, “When I learned that 800 million citizens are eligible to vote in the general election 2014, but 120 million do not because they are un-registered and another 120 million are incorrectly on the voters’ list, I knew that all concerned citizens should join hands with the authorities to address and rectify these anomalies.”
Primarily the Campaign aims to educate voters to vote for the right candidates, without a criminal background, and also to awaken, with its call for volunteerism, all sections of society to contribute to the nation.
The time has now come for every individual to walk the last mile and find every opportunity to contribute as an aware citizen, to ensure that India, with her abundant natural resources, and one of the largest population of youth in the world, demands and gets the good governance it rightly deserves.
Volunteer For A Better India (VBI) – is a pan-India social initiative of the Art of Living that is making it easy for citizens of India to come together in service to help build a better India.
Contact VAC/VBI today. Give just one hour to the nation every day.
For enquiries, contact:
Statistics tell the story
- Across 15 States in India
- Within 3 months
Thinking out of the box to raise awareness
- Brain-tickling quizzes called “Voteathon” on Indian Democracy and competitions to register maximum number of young voters were held for college students.
- Over 700 schools enrolled in “Junior Voteathon”, inter-school competition aimed at increasing awareness about importance of voting to school students, and thereby develop a sense of responsibility towards the country.
- Through 'Junior Voteathon' school children took pledges from 3,50,000 adults to vote in the coming elections.
- Indian-American youth developed the smart-phone android app to help unregistered voters, particularly youth to register their names in the electoral roles. (The high percentage of voter-applications rejected due to faulty/incomplete filling of details was appreciably reduced through this app.
- Nukkad Nataks or street plays were performed by college students.
- "Council of Principals" was a platform created for principals from over 150 colleges in Bangalore to deliberate together on the role of youth in nation-building and the importance of democracy and voting.