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Urban Apathy In The Democratic Process

Civilizations recorded in history are recognised by their flourishing urban centres. They stand tall as evidence as a testimony to time and as a tool of research for scholars and historians to tell their timeless tale.

The excavated sites of these urban centres such as Mohenjodaro and Lothal of the Harappan Civilisation give us an insight into the economic and social standards of the society. Similarly remnants of ancient Rome and ancient Greece are a symbol of their cultural past.

In modern day India, the metropolitan cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad are viewed as the flag bearers of the latest changes and developments taking place in the country.

These urban centres are expected to blaze a new trail setting examples for the rest of the nation. They house most of the intelligentsia and create opinions on issues of national and international importance. But they have been a constant disappointment every election season.

A representation of the urban centers of India

In 2019, what political pundits believe to be a watershed election, the metropolis citizens failed to turn up to cast their vote. One would not be so concerned if it was a flash in the pan. It has become a cause of concern as the pattern has consistently repeated over elections.

This election season the story has not been too different. Hyderabad was the first city on the electoral block going in to vote on April 11 in the first phase. The parliamentary constituencies of the twin cities Secunderabad and Hyderabad saw a dismal voter turnout of 46.26 percent and 44.75 percent respectively, way below the state average of 62 percent.

If you think it was just an aberration during the Lok Sabha polls then you are mistaken. The state of Telangana went to polls for Assembly, the state legislature, in November 2018 which were supposed to happen simultaneously with the general elections. The electorate of Hyderabad once again displayed their apathy for the electoral process with a turnout of 48 percent against the healthy polling percentage of 73 for the state.

Bengaluru, the Silicon Valley of India, was no different. With corruption and fake voter scandals dogging the previous Congress regime and the frothing of lakes in the city grabbing a lot of eyeballs, people expected the city of Bengaluru to come out to vote to address their grievances. But they failed to disprove the notion of them being arm-chair activists by recording a 51 percent turnout, twenty percentage points below the state turnout.

One would hope the mismanagement of the JD(S)-INC coalition government in their short stint would change the Bengaluru voting pattern. The voting trend in the Assembly elections seemed to suggest the same. But the Bengaluru voter staying true to their selves failed to turn up at the polling station and names missing from the electoral rolls did not help the cause.

Moving North, the national capital of Delhi was in fray in last phase of polling held on May 12. Conducted on a Sunday to enable the citizens to carry out their right to vote, there was a considerable dip in the voting percentage as compared to the previous edition of the general elections held in 2014. Though 60 percent is considered to be a decent electoral turnout a drop of over 5 percent in polling does raise a red flag.

The lone bright spot in an election where the metropolis cities cemented their opinion of twitter activists and arm-chair experts, the economic capital of India, Mumbai reversed the trend. The home to Bollywood and industrial magnets leapfrogged nearly 5 percent continuing the trend of increasing electoral turnout election after election. Mumbai stands as a shining example for other metropolitan cities to emulate amidst the pall of gloom spread by the other cities.

With such a fine track record, it is no wonder that no government takes the segment of people residing these areas seriously. The middle class comprises a majority of the population living in these urban areas. While they wax eloquent on issues which impact their daily life and their environment sitting in their cozy rooms, rarely do they venture out to cast their vote.

The Urban Voter- Reaching the destination by becoming a twitter activist.

I wonder sometimes that they live in a delusional world. They have complaints and grievances with the political dispensation but only deal with it over dinner tables and coffee cups apart from the rare crusader willing to dirty his hands with the governance system. Yet at the end of the day they do wonder why their reality remains the same even with changing political dispensations. In the process not only are they destroying their chances at a better life, they are dragging the nation down with their apathy for the electoral process.       

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