After Lucknow and Ludhiana, it is the turn of Bangalore to offer discounts to motivate voters to cast their vote.
Smart Vote has come up with a unique campaign called Show the ink, See prices sink where voters can prove they have voted and get discounts at retail outlets, beauty spas, hotels, restaurants and hospitals. The discounts range from 5 to 50 per cent and last up to a week.
Speaking to City Express, Amar K Murthy of Smart Vote said although the initiative had taken off a bit late, it would cover the entire country by the time the next general elections are held.
“In 2009, we had initiated debates between candidates of many constituencies with the help of a television channel, but this time, since B.Pac is doing it, we decided to encourage young voters to cast their votes and do it properly. As of today, 40 businesses have come forward, and 26 have registered,” Amar told Express.
The idea was formulated by a team of three: Amar of Smart Vote, and Manas and Shezan of Young Indians. “It is a scalable model. Business establishments can go to our website www.showtheink.in and offer an incentive,” says Amar.
The incentive for businesses is that they not only improve their brand value but also do their bit for the country. “We have made a beginning in Bangalore but hope to widen our base to Delhi and the rest of the country by the next elections,” Amar says.
He holds a high opinion of Indian voters: “They are better than Americans who are apathetic, where voting stands at a mere 40 per cent. Indians are sharp and want resolution of issues. They are hungry for good governance. Even if they take money offered by candidates, they vote according to their choice.”
According to Smart Vote, positive things are happening for the world’s biggest elections, with 15 crore first time voters. “We have to get everybody to participate, especially in Bangalore with its unique demography. A huge chunk of the electorate will move out of town as there is a string of holidays between April 13 and 19. Many may vote in their native places,” Amar says.
According to a study done by P G Bhat for Smart Vote, 10-20 per cent of the listed names in the voter list are incorrect in any urban setting like Bangalore. Such lists include multiple voting card holders and names of dead voters. “The statistics of 45 per cent casting their votes in the last elections is not true. A percentage of 60-65 per cent is more accurate,” he says.
Amar expects voting to be higher by a small margin this time.
“I would like to stress that urban voters being apathetic is not right. They too believe in good governance. We have to make it easy for people to vote. Many do not have proper information either about the candidates or the location of the polling booths,” he says.
Deals from April 17
Discounts for voters begin on April 17, the day of voting in Bangalore. This time, 26 establishments are offering discounts. Smart Votes hopes to attract more than 100 businesses and services, including the BMTC, by the next elections. Sankara Eye Hospital is a offering 50 per cent off on consultation for two days. “We will also offer a free Lasik evaluation to any voter from April 17 till the end of the month,” says a hospital representative. Mast Kalandar restaurants are offering a sweet worth Rs 5 with every meal, while Fifth Element Spa is offering a 15 per cent discount for nine days. Swadeshi Fashions is reducing 15 per cent on garments and accessories, while high-end bars and restaurants are offering 10 per cent off on liquor. Businesses can register for the campaign at www.showtheink.in.