A Guide To Voting
By Ana Smriti Paes
With D-Day, or rather, V-day fast approaching, the circus of politics goes on leaving the common man, you and me, baffled, surprised and maybe even outraged. Over the past few months, we have witnessed some truly crazy games..... from jumping Jacks to poster faces, promises to propaganda, making it impossible to keep up with all the news hovering over us. In such a situation, the general public are tempted to give up and show up unprepared on Valentine's Day for our date with the electoral exercise.
Civics (or Political Science) has taught us that the biggest role that we play in this democracy is that of choosing our elected representatives. Of course, our job doesn't end there but let us save the rest for a different lecture. As honest and good citizens, it is ethical to vote with complete knowledge and intention for the candidates that we believe are capable of representing us and our concerns in the state's Legislative Assembly. Taking this duty lightly and failing to vote is an injustice to ourselves, our community and our state.
Yet, this does not seem any clearer, right?
Let me break it down.
1. Focus on your constituency
Too much is going on everywhere, and it is naturally impossible to keep up. Amidst our busy work and study lives, our best strategy is to focus only on our constituency.
Constituencies of Goa
Our voice is the loudest where we are. Our constituency is the strongest area of our impact. Let us aim to be most aware of what (or who) is going on around us.
2. Ask your candidates
To make a well-informed decision, we need to know all our options, and what better way than from the horse's mouth? Do not be afraid to quiz your candidates about their knowledge of legislative procedures (this is very important). Ask your candidates about their educational qualifications and the work they have done in the past. Just like how no employer would choose someone for the job without proper scrutiny, we should not be choosing people to work for us without properly knowing them.
Goan youth interacting with a minister.
Make it a point to also find out your candidate's stance on the matters that concern you, for example, jobs for youth, the three linear projects, the Coastal Zone Management Plan, illegal housing structures and others. This will help you discern which candidate is on the same page as you are.
3. Person over party
If you need to learn one thing about Goan politics, let it be this: Political Parties are not permanent. Conductors and tickets and musical chairs later, by 14th February, the scenes may change, not to mention what they may turn out to be after 10th March.
Do you want Goa to remain safe for future generations ?
The best way to make a decision is to let go of current or past party affiliations (because they hardly mean anything), family or friendships, power or bribes and focus on the individual's past record, his/her experience, his/her ability to research and debate with strong, meaningful points. This will determine the candidate's conviction in the Assembly and his/her ability to legislate on behalf of us.
Are you concerned about Goa ?
Most of us are stunned and disgusted by the nepotism and corruption with which parties have put forth defected candidates and candidates with criminal records. The party’s choice is out of our control, but we have the choice of not electing them.
4. Good environment policies
The next five years are crucial to our state, country and the world with respect to climate change. With temperatures and sea levels rising as fast as forests are depleting, we, especially the youth, stare at a bleak future. Goa, held in the bosom of the Western Ghats with her toes dipping into the Arabian Sea is at risk of violent changes that will threaten our lives and livelihoods. We are already witnessing rising shorelines and irregular rains and storms.
Youths turn farmers, to cultivate 20k sqm of fallow land
How can the upcoming elections be connected? Our representatives need to be people who care about the future of Goa and what will remain for the youth and the next generation. It is imperative that we elect people who are ready to do all in their power to ensure transparent policymaking for sustainable development. If we live in areas prone to the destruction caused by floods and storms and if our livelihoods depend on traditional occupations that stand threatened by the effects of climate change, then it is even more important that we choose our candidates wisely because our lives depend on that choice.
For more ideas and discussion prompts to bring up with your candidates, check out the Green Manifesto, prepared by the Amchem Mollem Team.
Locals go green on Environment Day
5. Nothing comes for free - Payments and Propaganda
We have been brainwashed and tempted by various offers over the past few months. Who does not want free money without work ?
As adults in the real world, we need to be convinced of the fact that nothing comes for free. Absolutely nothing. So, if someone promises a disproportionately large sum of money for a small task or for no task at all, be sure that you are being cheated. Do not fall for the trap. Everything seemingly free is paid for by our ever-increasing taxes.
Say No to bribes
Do not take every billboard hoarding at its face value. Those hoardings are designed to confuse and convince us. Remember, the truth need not be proclaimed on billboards and YouTube advertisements... the truth is visible all around us.
It cannot be denied that the events of the last few months could make a fine Netflix special, but let us not get lost in the dramatics of it all. By making a responsible decision, let us do our duty to our people, our state and our country.
Let’s bring in a positive change in the upcoming Goa state assembly elections.