Election day: It’s usually stiflingly hot, crowded, and unpleasant. You stand in a long line, go into a small booth, and make a decision that seemingly has no consequence. Right? We cannot, at any cost, admit defeat – and settling into the comfortable decision that your vote makes no difference, so you shouldn’t go stand in that line, is defeat at its worst. It is defeat to forget that India is the world’s largest democracy, defeat to forget that we have a voting population of 700 million, and it’s shameful that the lowest voter turnout is in urban centers. Your vote is important, use it.
There are many issues that have to be considered before you elect the person you want representing you. Here’s an example: for almost the last decade, there has been a push for the privatization of water. This means that government water treatment plants would be taken over by private MNCs like Coca-Cola, or Thames Water. On one hand, this could make water treatment quicker and more efficient, but it would also drive the price of treated water up, and increase the proliferation of (expensive) bottled water. Privatizing water makes it inaccessible to a wide range of the population, particularly in a country like ours. A place in which voters came out against privatization was Uruguay. They were the first country in the world to vote out water privatization through direct democracy. There are already some states in India where water privatization has been instituted.
In India, the movement against water privatization has taken different forms. In villages across Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan, rainwater harvesting has created a water supply independent of bottles. In Mumbai, there is a very strong anti-privatization lobby. It’s not an NGO, it’s not the Government, but it is ordinary citizens who decided they simply would not let it happen.
These actions are incredibly important to us, but think of the power they would have if voters backed them up. The government sees what you show them, and hears what you say. In our case, in order to get our government to hear, we have to scream. Civil discourse and grassroots movements are key, and democracy is our most powerful weapon. All political, economic, and civil decisions are ultimately made by you. It’s Know Your Vote’s goal to put as much information out there as possible about as many issues as we can. The more we think about our privilege as voters and the issues we have a say in, the more informed our decisions can be. Don’t hesitate to go to our page and start a conversation about water privatization – or any other issue that appeals to you. We want you to be heard. Most importantly, when the time comes, go out and vote, make sure you express your opinion, and create change. Think back to that stifling heat, and think about the long line you have to stand in, and then think about this: you only vote on one day – but it has years of impact.