The country is abuzz with bated anticipation on the eve of the Lok Sabha election results, and we at Insight conducted a survey to capture the institute population’s take on politics. Through the survey, we aimed to gauge the participation of the students in voting, the criteria they consider and various other factors to understand their outlook towards this fundamental right.

We received 786 responses and we have tried to represent them in a reader-friendly format below.

Please Note: All the percentage results are based on the responses of people who have filled the survey, and we hope that due to the randomised nature of the survey it acts as a reasonable representation of the population of the institute.

From the above pie charts, we can infer that even though 68.2% of students have Voter ID, only 36.2% would be voting in the election. We tried to capture this discrepancy by understanding the reason for the same.

We observe that about 73.1% of students with the voter id would not be able to vote as they are registered in a different constituency. We would also like to bring to light the procedure to change the constituency. Students can change their constituency if they wish to do so by filling the form in this link:

https://www.nvsp.in/Forms/Forms/form6?lang=en-GB

So we delved deeper into the factors which drive people to vote:

What is your motivation to vote?

A strong motivation of students wanting to exercise their voting rights can be seen with a representation of 66%. This is slightly surprising because people care more about exercising their fundamental right and only 31% of the people vote primarily to see a change in the policies. This seems to imply that even the ones who vote do so because they are supposed to, and not because they hope for or expect an improvement in existing policies.

We further analysed the factors and policies which students prioritize while voting.
The representative graphs are the cumulative weighted scores of the ranks that the students have given.

The welfare of the nation was prioritised over the welfare of respective constituency, implying that people are more concerned about the macro policies of the government which affect the long term prosperity of the nation instead of the initiatives of the local MLAs/MPs which can directly impact their community or constituency. People seem to be influenced more by the ability of the prospective PM than by the ability of their prospective MP while voting.

 

Unsurprisingly, education was the most significant factor that respondents consider while voting.

However, in spite of IIT Bombay being one of the premium institutes of technology in the country, a great chunk of respondents would prefer to go abroad to seek better education and employment opportunities after graduation. The general perception of most students is that going abroad will prove to be an upgrade on every sphere of their current standard of living This could be another factor which students consider while (not) voting. They tend to abstain from voting because they do not see a future in the country.

To understand the factors that would increase the number of voters in the institute, we asked them,

Which factors would compel you to vote next time?

The students could select multiple options in this question.

About 56% of students believed that having a Voter ID drive could benefit the students like the passport and pan card drive which are organised by the Institute Hostel Affairs Council. About 32.6% believed that the voters could be increased by having more political awareness something which we received as feedback from the many faculties that we interviewed while creating this survey.

Which of these is your primary source of news about current affairs?

Social media platforms and news apps together constitute the major source of information for over 72% of respondents implying that students don’t participate in discussions about current affairs with their colleagues, and model their opinion on the basis of mainstream media, often so because it is very convenient. But the flip side is that it limits perspective.

Students often accept the opinions served to them on a platter by news apps and social media platforms instead of organically thinking and questioning the facts for themselves.

Concluding Remark:

The fact that 31.8% of respondents who didn’t vote cited reasons such as lack of Voter ID and an inconvenient voting process suggests that people are not actively participating in political discussion and exercising their fundamental right to effect change. Our inclination to vote is governed by convenience rather than obligation.

A minority of people also believe that it is better to abstain from voting than having to choose between the devil and the deep sea or making an uninformed choice.

This attitude towards voting can be aptly compared to an institute level phenomenon: the negligence of students towards course feedbacks. And, as is the case with course feedbacks, the motivation to vote is extrinsic and incentivised, and we should strive to change that and make it intrinsic.

From the above data, we can aid this cause by streamlining the procedure to obtain Voter IDs and making the institute conducive to political discourse by increasing awareness about current affairs and encouraging and organizing debates and activities of the same.

Here’s looking forward to a more conscious and proactive insti!

The content on this website is strictly the property of Insight and the Students’ Gymkhana IIT Bombay. If you wish to reproduce any content herein, please contact us:
Chief Editors: Saman Siddiqui and Varun Sule
Mail to: insight@iitb.ac.in