Youth apathy to voting is one of the biggest hurdles to democracy in India. After all, we are a young country. One in three Indians is a youngster and in the next few years, the median age of the country is going to be 29 years; the youngest in the world! Now, imagine this; a young, energetic and passionate generation, which wants to root all evils, wants to fight corruption but cannot be bothered to vote. Scary thought, isn’t it?
Two reasons that prevent the youth from voting are:
· They don’t have a voter id card
· They don’t think any politician is worth voting for
Remedying these conditions is a herculean task, but not impossible. With WeChat, we can ensure that the voter turnout in 2014 General Elections is much higher than previous years. Let’s have a look at steps that we can follow.
Bring opinion leaders together
Every youngster has someone who he or she idolizes or follows. It can be anyone; a professor, an actor, a musician or even one of his own peers in college or at work place. WeChat should first launch a country wide campaign to bring these leaders together. A contest will be held in various cities across the country where WeChat can identify these individuals. These individuals won’t be rallying for a party or a politician; they will be people with a non political background who will just encourage people to vote. How you may ask? Read on J
Drift a bottle
WeChat has a drift a bottle feature, where you can simply send messages to anybody in the world. Jus type out your message and let it drift till somebody picks it up. Now, a WeChat opinion leader can send ‘bottles’ on WeChat and ask people to look for it. The message should contain interesting graphics, cartoons and one liners that will encourage people to vote. WeChat can even make a game out of it. Once the ‘bottle’ has been received by someone, they should forward it again and create a chain (somewhat like Chinese Whispers). It would be fun to know if the original sender manages to find his bottle again. This will be a mini awareness drive, which will ensure that a lot of youngsters know about the importance of voting.
In WeChat, one can have a group chat with 40 people together. The WeChat opinion leader can send regular alerts about voter id registration, the nearest places his friends can go to apply for one, documents required, and the deadline and so on.
A lot of youngsters don’t vote because they just don’t know who to vote for. They need to know everything about a politician so that they make an informed choice. A special feature called Votepedia should be rolled out only for India by WeChat, which will be regularly updated with information related to politicians of a particular area. It will include his educational background, family history, criminal records if any, his manifesto and promises and news snippets. It will be written in a simple precise way and will be easy to share, too. So if a person reads about politician ABC, he or she can forward a few lines about him or her to his friends, encouraging them to read up on them.
WeChat has an amazing feature called Moments where you can instantly share pictures with your friends. Here, the opinion leaders can share pictures of politicians, the work they have done, things that they have witnessed in their own constituency both negative and positive and share it with their friends.
Using the principle of Gandhigiri, people will be asked to share creative pictures of their fingers, with that ink stamp, showing their friends that they have voted. This way, the people who did not bother to go for voting, will be shamed to vote, too.
An opinion leader should try to encourage as many people as possible to vote. So, he or she can regularly use the Shake feature to make new friends, interact with them and spread awareness about the elections even when on the move!
Besides shake, the WeChat opinion leader can also use the Look Around feature to find buddies closest to him or her and have a conversation about politics. It need not be a serious discussion; it should be a free flowing dialogue between friends on various issues.
Now, getting people to vote is not an easy task. A lot of you may wonder about the effectiveness of an opinion leader. After all, what can one opinion leader who can just engage in dialogue with 40 people do? A lot! The number of smartphone users in India is one the rise. There are 67 million smartphone users in India today and if each of them go out to vote; our election results will be a lot different. The choices they make will be well informed; they will vote for leaders who they believe in and therefore will rightfully have the power to question them if they don’t fulfill their promises or hold their head up with pride because of the great difference his chosen leader is making in the country.
In the end I would like to say that today, social apps are not just timepass; they are tools to bring about a change.
This post has been written as a part of a contest hosted by Indiblogger.in
Image sources: http://www.socialtechpop.com/2012/06/chinese-voice-messaging-app-wechat-gains-popularity-worldwide/