On a hot, greasy Mumbai afternoon at 12.26 pm to be precise a mail popped up in my mailbox from college titled “In the background of elections”. Thinking it was just another guest lecture, I ignored it initially.
But on seeing my Facebook newsfeed full of notifications, I decided to read the mail. I still remember the non-chalance with which I thought it was just another piece on elections and said to myself that I’m not missing out on much because I read a lot of election pieces while working on an internship.
After reading the mail, I was a little surprised. As far as I knew, a college had never been so vocal about a particular issue. I felt a sense of pride, I don’t know why. Perhaps, because I felt that it was good to know that the principal was open to debate and voiced his opinion.
One of the main pre-requisites of voting as a citizen in a democratic state is being informed. Self education is our duty and we all are free to form our opinions based on this. A deep analysis and assimilation of facts before forming an opinion is of utmost necessity and in a country like ours, we face a dire shortage of such thinking. Especially because, in a society we live today, we are unable to differentiate between what is the truth and what isn’t.
Many of the posts published (regarding the mail) in various newspapers and on social media heavily lack in facts. Several news publications even using words like “slamming” in their headlines. The mail has been completely misconstrued as “bias”.
Instead what the mail tries to do is make sure the reader makes an informed decision. After having read the facts, it is up to us to frame an opinion- something that Father Frazer even mentions in the mail.
Today, with hundreds of advertisements by political parties covering every section of the media from front pages to hoardings, we need to look beyond publicity skills. Because let’s face it, this is not a “who campaigns better” contest. We need to look at what a party stands for, what it believes in, what are its long term plans. Let’s make this clear, this piece is in no way whatsoever defending, supporting, attacking, “slamming” any party/candidate.
We as citizens need to look beyond ad campaigns which make a desperate attempt to cajole voters in their favour. In a country where news is sensationalised before being served to us, it is important that we make a decision for ourselves. It is fundamental to listen to everyone’s views and opinions but at the end of the day it is for us to decide what kind of a nation we want to be.
If a person can be so easily influenced by a mail, I don’t think they deserve the right to vote, especially in a country where we receive information which is misrepresented by political parties and their media.
Thus, stating that a mail creates a sort of compulsion on students and that this is a mere attempt to “colour the minds of first time voters” is extremely naïve and baseless. On one hand we have Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Baba Ramdev, Lata Mangeshkar openly voicing their political choices, while when a principal of one of Mumbai’s most prestigious college voices his opinion it suddenly becomes a problem. Why?
The mail in no way tried to show a bias or “influence” anybody’s mind but was a mere attempt to voice an opinion. If a mail can discourage or encourage voters, all the videos, songs, parodies which have been published so far should be attacked in the same way. The fact that the principal being at such a position was able to voice his choice without out rightly dismissing someone else’s is commendable.
Sanjana Pandit studies Politics and Economics at St.Xavier's College, Mumbai