It is 24th April today, and I'm standing from the fourth floor balcony of my flat in Chennai, watching the line form on the street below. I have two polling stations next door - one a corporation primary school and another a Women's social club. The trickle of keen early voters that I saw as I was returning from my run this morning has increased steadily. Unfortunately, my application to be included in the voter rolls was lost in the "system" and I'm going to have to sit this one out. My parents, who live with me, fortunately got in.
My father, who served in the Air Force for 39 years, rarely got an opportunity to exercise his franchise in the traditional way (going to a polling booth). Every election, I remember a bright yellow envelope that would come to him with his postal ballot - the constituency he would vote in was the place listed as his "permanent residence" in the Air Force records - his sister's home in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu. One never knows if those postal ballots reached in time, were counted, or were just lost.
Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrashekar, son of one of my father's old Air Force friends, launched a successful campaign to give members of the Armed Forces the right to vote in the place where they are posted, as long as they are not in a field location. Kudos to him for taking up this cause and securing the rights of those who work hardest to protect our democracy.
Unfortunately, another class of people who work as hard, and perhaps in less comfortable circumstances, are members of our Para-military forces. During elections, they are rushed from place to place to ensure safe voting for everybody, but they don't have the right to either send an absentee ballot or vote where they are. This is a real travesty and should be addressed soon. Rajeev's work is a good first step, and I hope he takes up the case of members of the CRPF, CISF, BSF and other paramilitary forces soon.
Executive, entrepreneur, investor and mentor to social entrepreneurs, golf and squash addict, author of thrillers... In short, an amateur dabbler in new experiences, and provoker of thoughts.