Manifestos from the young electorate

It is election season in the city and the rest of the state. Most of the local news is about the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates and various political parties, campaign activities, problems existing in different constituencies and . In addition to this, are stories about voter awareness drives, poll code violations, contestant support campaigns by groups such as B.PAC and Praja Rajakiya Vedike, a political platform launched in 2010. Apart from all this, there are some specific groups of people who have brought out what they expect of the representatives to be elected, through detailed manifestos. These include college students, Information Technology industry employees and human rights defenders.

"Around 40 youth studying in government and private colleges in Kolar, Bangalore and a few other towns in Karnataka met in the city in December 2012 to brainstorm on their priorities such as inclusive and broad based education, access to required infrastructure et al. They drafted the manifesto through a series of disucssions held in some of the participating institutions." Elango Felix, one of the facilitators who works with Samvada, a Bangalore based non-profit organization that focuses on the social advancement of disadvantaged rural youth. "This is the first time that young people in the state came together to create a students’ manifesto which was published in early April 2013. We have sent a copy of the document to all the political parties who received it favourably. Of course, we must keep track of how the elected representatives act on the expectations of the youngsters", said Manohar R, Head Programs at South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), another non-profit that conducts courses on human rights in schools and colleges through its headquarters in Bangalore. In other districts of Karnataka, SICHREM also monitors and reports on human rights violations by individuals, organizations, institutions and the government or its representatives.

Bangalore has been known as the Silicon City for nearly 2 decades. And the Information Technology (IT) industry has contributed greatly to the Gross Domestic Product of the city and the state eventhough some of the may not be registered as voters here. It is therefore not surprising that people employed in IT firms in the city expressed their challenges such as safety of women employees, unethical termination practices, etc. and the need for elected representatives to address them. They conveyed their issues and demands at discussion with members of political parties held in Koramangala, on 20th April 2013, under the aegis of IT/ITeS Employees Centre (ITEC), a support forum for persons working in the IT industry. As per Bharathi T, one of the active members of ITEC, Prabhakar, the state general secretary and spokesperson of the Janata Dal (S) expressed his lack of knowledge of the problem of sexual harassment at the workplace especially in the IT industry. The representatives of other partiespresent, namely Lok Satta, Karnataka Janata Paksha, BJP, CPI (ML), Aam Aadmi Party and CPI(M) did not make any statement in support of women. Like the students, this group of citizens will have to monitor if politicians take care of their concerns, as promised.

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Pushpa Achanta is a writer who enjoys volunteering, photography and poetry.