India is the largest democracy in the world. Democracy means when people of the country are allowed to choose their representatives. However, not many people understand that this is a special power invested in them. This political apathy often leads to a misinformed decision and the opportunity to appoint a worthy representative and an able leader is lost.
To actively engage citizens and make them understand the politics better, 27-year-old journalist Abeer Kapoor has developed a game. It is called “The Poll: The Great Indian Election Game”. As the name suggests, this game intends to stimulate India’s electoral process.
Manifesto, campaigns, media and more
The game was developed in association with an NGO ‘Seeking Modern Applications for Real Transformation (SMART)’, which runs a community radio in Haryana. This project received support from Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom – a German foundation that is funding the game’s release.
Kapoor as a journalist has covered several elections across the country. It was the Karnataka election in May, which prompted him to come up with a board game on this. This game is designed, manufactured and made in India. He realised that irrespective of regions, Indian politics plays on a few common grounds, the parties have the resources, an agenda and are ready to go for a full-fledged campaigning spree.
When even popular games like Ludo are finding app replication, the decision to introduce this as a board game was a well-thought call. Speaking with The Logical Indian, Abeer Kapoor said, “We live in a time where we are losing friends and relatives over the difference in political ideology. The problem is that we are not ready to sit down, discuss and debate. This board game offers an opportunity to do just that.”
This four-player game is “politically agnostic”. This means that there are no names of the political party used, instead, players are encouraged to “win” constituencies on the basis of their manifesto. “All parties on paper look the same. Essentially they seek the same thing. We are removing the hue and colour of the party. In this game, you prepare manifesto and draft policies accordingly,” said Kapoor.
The players build manifesto for their parties by drawing policy cards. These policy cards help decide the manifesto, for example, a promise of better housing, education, investment among others. All these contents and terms come from official textbooks, government websites and reputed publications so as to give simple and understandable vocabulary to the players.
There are also constituency cards which read like newspaper articles. They explain the geography setting-whether urban or rural, give the demography, majority/minority composition, Scheduled Caste/Tribe data, the spending capacity (maximum being 70 lakh). The information for this comes from Lok Sabha questions.
Interestingly, there are cards named as the hate-speech, black money, and spreading fake-news through “WhatsApp Uncle”. Usage of such cards would invite penalty. The game has an “Election Commission”, which can be called for in cases where illegal means as mentioned are used. The EC then use the “just say no” card.
“This might not be the perfect simulation, but it is an attempt in that direction. I have heard people say that politics is dirty. Yes, it is dirty. It is dirty because nobody is watching and we are letting things happen just as it is.”