RIGHT TO VOTE

RIGHT TO VOTE

“It is very important to share, while researching about the democratic voting rights, in 2014, it was reported on the 13th day of February, that hundreds of sanysis and sadhus who have been leading ascetic lives for decades in this world famous temple town of THIRUVANNAMALAI, will participate in the democratic process of electing people’s representatives from the forthcoming LS elections. It further reported that, sanyasis and sadhus will have Electoral Photo Identification card (EPIC) as the designated booth-level-officers have started their verification process of their applications. Many sadhus are keen to cast their votes for the first time. We have helped more than 300 sadhus, aged between 30 and 70, filed their applications to get the voter ID card. The election wing of the Thiruvannamalai Taluk Office has received about 350 applications from sadhus and sanyasis, enrol their names in the electoral rolls of the Thiruvannamalai constituency. They submitted the applications after the Election Commission of India relaxed rules to include the names of the homeless. Officials of the election wing, have commenced the verification process to ensure availability of the sadhus, who were living under trees, ashrams, temple mandapams, along the girivalam path and Annamalaiyar Temple. Several other sadhus said it would help them while going on pilgrimage in North India as the police ask for identification, it will also help them to avail subsidy to take up the pilgrimage”.

There are old age homes, run by, NON- Governmental organisations with state grant,charitable trusts, private homes with all latest amenities, as in gated community, also Government run ones. But more than any cities of Tamilnadu, its Coimbatore which has the maximum number of homes for the aged and destitute. Statistics show that there are 21 Government aided, 30 charitable trusts run, 10 best old age homes are there in Coimbatore. People from other cities are buying houses, flats, post retirement prefer to stay here. One for climatic and the other being peace, calm, serenity.

Most of the people who stay have their loved ones in abroad, when they are not living with them, they prefer to live this way, because, there is security, lots of people are around with families or alone, they get to know each other, have hectic activities throughout the day, where cooking can be made by self or they have a big dining hall, where breakfast, lunch, snacks for the evening and dinner is served for all. There is a shift in the society, where elderly people prefer to stay in such homes, rather than live alone in their home town or any other native place they hail from.

But this is for the people who can afford to stay in such gated old age homes, private homes, with all the latest amenities, which are also altered to their needs and convenience. Most of them either rent out these houses or flats or buy them and come post retirement, till then they let it out to others who wants to come and stay. But we do have to think of those who can’t afford, have no means of survival at all and are totally dependent on the homes to support them, feed, clothe them. Coimbatore is abuzz with many such old age retirement homes as well.

Everyone has the right to exercise their franchise which is their democratic right. In and around many areas in Tamilnadu, there are many number of homes for the aged, destitute, orphaned people. These homes are either run by Government, aided or supported by the Government and Private  homes for the aged and destitute. According to the latest statistics, it is found that more than 1 lakh people are there above the age of 18 are there in these homes. It is also found that people are staying the temple, making it their permanent place of stay, where the numbers run in thousands as per the latest statistics. The grievance that they have is they never get their voting rights; they want to participate, in this festivity called elections, for which they should get their voting rights.

When asked in a home for the aged and destitute in Coimbatore, one of the inmates said, “We don’t have the right to vote, in the forthcoming elections, if we can get to vote then, we too can help is establishing a democratic Government, through which probably we can get some concessions. Since we are staying in a destitute, old age home we are not getting any concessions whatsoever”.

When asked to an inmate at the Municipality home for the aged and destitute, he said, “Please give us the voting rights, we are willing to vote, we want our democratic rights, so please give us that, I am asking all the concerned people”.

As opined by the social activists, “when Election Commission of India, in tandem with their counterparts at the state level, thinks of removing the fake voters’ ID by tracing, tracking, the falsity of theirs, from the voters list, why can’t they think of including people from all the homes of aged and destitute all over the states of Tamilnadu and India?’

As narrated by Mahendran an activist speaking on behalf of the home, “after the inmates come in to these homes, they definitely don’t have or get the voters identity card. It is an event of impossibility that they can go back to their respective homes and get it as they don’t have a fall back. For very few of them who can get their respective voters ID card from their homes who are driven out by their kith and kin. So many from the Homes didn’t vote last time. Imagine if this being the state of affairs, how many wouldn’t have voted in the last elections, just because they didn’t have the legitimate voters’ ID card”.

It is very important to mention the value of right and the essentiality element to vote, towards which the awareness is being carried out in all the States, all over India, by the Election Commission of India. For those without any documentary evidence, address proof to show where they are from, who are living in destitute homes, it will be a real breakthrough for the Election Commission, if they can think of giving them the right to vote, by providing them with a voters’ identity card, to those lakhs of people, who are living in deprivation. This will also give them a valid identification proof too.

When the Central and State Governments in tandem, are emphasising on the 100% vote count, towards which they are canvassing pre-election awareness and campaigning, towards this drive.  If that being the case then, People from destitute and old age homes all over Tamilnadu, should be given their DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO VOTE, in which case the possibility of 100% vote count could be a reality come true.

What has to be considered is that, they would also get the privilege of voting, exercising their democratic rights, for those who can go to the polling booths and vote, for those who are totally not agile, it would be really a thoughtful gesture, for the Election Commission of India, to not only account them into the voting list, but arrange a booth officer to make them vote, by visiting them at their homes, by arranging for a mobile voting machine!! Which would be an innovative technological breakthrough too. Nothing would make them happier than this gesture, in cooperation with Centre and State Elections commissions respectively and can be applied for all those, whose movements are totally impaired.

 

EVERYONE SHOULD EXERCISE THEIR FRANCHISE, WHICH IS THEIR DEMOCRATIC RIGHT, IF SADHUS CAN BE GIVEN VOTERS CARD, WHY NOT PEOPLE LIVING IN HOMES FOR AGED, DESTITUTE? KIND ATTTENTION ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA!!

 

VIJAYASHREE RAMESH, CHENNAI BASED ADVOCATE