Empowering first-time voters

As the discussion progressed, the initially silent halls echoed with questions, reflecting the students’ eagerness to engage.
Participants reading newspaper during  the event.
Participants reading newspaper during the event.Photo | Sri Loganathan Velmurugan

HYDERABAD: Voting is a fundamental right bestowed upon us by the Constitution. Through this right, we have the power to select individuals who are competent in managing the affairs of our state or country. It is our responsibility to elect the right candidates so that our concerns are acknowledged and addressed appropriately. While some may question the significance of their votes, it’s imperative to recognise that every vote holds value and relevance. To instil this awareness among first-time voters, TNIE organised ‘Hyderabad Dialogues with first-time voters’ — a talk with the students of Loyola Academy, Alwal.

The panel comprised TNIE Political Editor Ireddy Srinivas Reddy along with Assistant Professor D Elsita, Head of the Department of Psychology and Journalism. Serving as the mediator was TNIE Features Editor Reshmi Chakravorty.

The session commenced with a welcome address by the Fr Principal of the college, L Joji Reddy SJ, followed by the initiation of discussions. Elsita emphasised the importance of voting and elucidated why it is indispensable. She stated, “Voting enables us to elect capable leaders. It’s crucial to exercise our voting rights because it’s the primary means through which we can select individuals to address and resolve our societal issues.”

Subsequently, students raised queries concerning the influence of media on public opinion. In response, Srinivas Reddy asserted, “While we in the media play our part, as first-time voters, it’s essential for you to utilise your constitutional right to vote. By exercising your vote, you empower yourself to hold your leaders accountable for addressing societal concerns.”

Fr L Joji Reddy SJ,  Principal of the college
Fr L Joji Reddy SJ, Principal of the college Photo | Sri Loganathan Velmurugan

He further elaborated on the importance of voting, stating, “Some of you may doubt the efficacy of voting, but irrespective of the electoral outcome, casting your vote grants you the authority to question and advocate for change. That’s the power vested in your vote.”

Students also inquired about NOTA (None of the Above), a provision on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) allowing voters to express disapproval for all listed candidates. Srinivas Reddy explained, “NOTA serves as a mechanism for signalling to election authorities that none of the candidates are deemed suitable. This prompts authorities to address prevailing issues.”

Issues such as poor infrastructure, youth unemployment, government jobs, and reservations surfaced as significant concerns among the students. Srinivas emphasised the importance of discerning genuine leaders who keep their promises and work for the welfare of the populace. He underscored, “In a democracy, it’s essential to choose leaders wisely and utilise our rights judiciously.”

As the discussion progressed, the initially silent halls echoed with questions, reflecting the students’ eagerness to engage.

Despite lingering doubts regarding party manifestos and leaders, students displayed a keen determination to select the right leaders and comprehend the significance of voting.

The event concluded with comprehensive responses to most questions and student-led analyses. Fr Vice Principal, Arts & Science, A Prabhu SJ ensured active student participation, addressing their concerns about the electoral process.

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