Voting and poll process can be hailed as the heart of a democracy since we get a chance to elect our representatives. As soon as a person turns 18, it is crucial to our democratic system to register them as a voter for them to exercise their right to choose representatives. But there are youngsters who are ignorant of their voting rights. Keeping this in mind, Ananda Thirtha, a 38-year-old software professional from Bangalore has set an example by helping 30,000 youngsters enrol in the voter’s list. He has made 10,000 young Bengalureans enrol as voters this year alone.
Ananda has been going around Bangalore before elections since 2010 and was helping youngsters who have turned 18 to enrol as voters. He creates awareness among them on the importance of voting in a democratic country, assists them to fill the application forms, attaches the right documents, and hands over the applications in bulk to the respective BBMP zonal offices.
Ananda who worked as a project manager at an IT services company quit his job to spend more time in social work and is currently associated with two start-up companies. “I was inspired by a talk by Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy in December 2009 where he had highlighted the importance of voting in order to elect the right people. A few months later, I began with APS College in south Bengaluru, where I spoke to degree students about the need to register as voters. Though many of them filled the registration forms, not all submitted as they couldn’t locate their BBMP office. Then I spoke to BBMP and began collecting filled forms and handing them over in bulk to the civic body,” he told The Times of India.
Anand has also created awareness videos and developed apps and web portals to help registered voters locate their wards and assembly constituencies. He believes that Election Commission should become more responsible in registering new voters. “I am only dealing with degree colleges. Imagine what the number would be if one considers youngsters from medical, engineering, law and nursing colleges,” he said.
He pointed out lack of awareness among youngsters as the reason for not enlisting as a voter. “Also, many students submit forms with incomplete data or wrong supporting documents, because of which their applications get rejected. For many students, the voting day is nothing but a holiday. My effort is to fill these gaps and help them register as voters,” he added.
Pranati, a student in a private college in Jayanagar, who enrolled last year as voter after attending Ananda’s awareness class told The Times of India that Ananda’s class was inspiring. “He told us that the voter registration is a hall ticket for democracy and it was inspiring,” she told.
Ananda also assists Election Commission for conducting Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) demos and works in association with other software companies and apartment associations to get the residents enrolled as voters.