18 Apr 2024  |   05:48am IST

Casting of Vote is a Right and a Duty

In 1910, Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote the famous poem, ‘Let My Country Awake’. He wrote: 

‘Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action –

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.’

The country is celebrating the biggest festival of freedom and democracy - elections. With the nomination filing process, Goa has geared up for electing the two Members of Parliament, North Goa and South Goa. The polling will be held in the third phase on May 7. The political parties are engaged in fierce campaigning with a combination of first timers, the old and experienced, all in the fray to represent the people of Goa in Parliament. 

On Tuesday, the Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrao in a circular exhorted every Catholic and people of good will to fulfil their civic responsibility by exercising their vote during the upcoming elections. Significantly, he made an appeal to the faithful to avoid taking the regular Monday train to Vailankanni on May 6, the day before the polls, stating that by abstaining from the responsibility of participating in the voting process on the May 7, they would be not only doing a disservice to the nation, but failing seriously in their important civic responsibility. 

The Archbishop, reminding the essence of the Constitution of India, said, “It is in this spirit that all eligible Catholic voters need to exercise their franchise, casting their vote for persons with secular credentials, who are truly committed to work for the good of all the people and to uphold the values enshrined in our Constitution.”

Democracy is of the people, for the people and by the people, and this can work only if every citizen is free and able to choose the government one wants. That is possible only if every citizen exercises the right to vote, which is guaranteed by universal adult franchise. In 2019, out of the nearly 91.2 crore voters registered and eligible to vote, 67.40 per cent voted. Though it was the highest percentage of voting in the history of India’s electoral process, one-third of India’s electorate did not participate in electing their representatives and the government which governed them for five years. 

Voting is right as well as a duty towards the nation and every adult Indian should ensure that his/her vote is cast and they contribute in the nation building process. Electing a democratic government is the first step and the foundation to keep democracy alive and the Constitution of India functional. But the biggest cause of concern for the country is the machoism of certain individuals who do not want to see beyond the realms of personal and economic benefit of a political party, few individuals and corporate companies. The dangers of electoral autocracy loom large. Though still in the nascent stage, the idea is trying to make strides across the globe,with powerful leaders taking advantage of technology and support of majoritarianism ideologies. While the world still continues and pursues to see these countries as democratic republics, in reality they are slowly transforming to autocratic systems, while keeping the democratic phase of electing governments intact, without having to be doubted by the rest of the world. 

Electing representatives who uphold the Constitution as sacred and are committed to fulfil their responsibilities as enshrined in it is key to the electoral process. The preamble of the Constitution declares India to be a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic committed to Justice, Equality and Liberty for the people.

On November 25, 1949, in his last speech to the Constituent Assembly, the father of India’s Constitution Dr BR Ambedkar had said, “Bhakti in religion, may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.” Therefore, every citizen has a duty to elect a democratic government and safeguard the Constitution.


Idhar Udhar