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Voting is just the first step to shape your future

An artist who detaches himself from society will be unable to produce a credible work of art. The same applies to those who detach themselves from active citizenship -- they would not be able to help improve the conditions they live in, says Capt GR Gopinath, chairman & managing director, Deccan 360, who contested the 2009 Lok Sabha elections as an independent from Bangalore South constituency.

“No one is an island; you live in society. So, just like how an artist owes something to society before contributing through art forms, a citizen, too, must do the same,” he says.

Gopinath, who was in DNA office as a guest editor on Saturday, says “The price for freedom is constant vigil and accountability…the citizens political role only begins with voting, does not end with it. Voting is the first step in taking part in shaping your own future.”Though voting is an important facet of democracy, what is equally crucial is not to have indifference after casting the vote. He says: “If you cant demand anything, lawlessness and anarchy would set in. Its like stronger people will dominate and exploit the weaker ones; the same tendency is seen in political parties who come to power, who will do only those things which are good for the party, assuming that what is good for the party is good for the people and the state.”

This happens because of citizens failing to hold the ruling political party accountable. But in doing so, the good of the majority is marginalised, only because the citizens, in spite of voting, are not exercising their rights as active citizens.

He says every person who has a tendency to keep away from the electoral process – voting or after -- must realise that they are citizens first and foremost, and what they are in their respective professions is secondary.

He suggests that voters look at the candidates while voting, not the political party. “You dont give a contract to a contractor who has cheated you the last time, do you? That approach will put pressure on the political parties to field the right candidates,” he says.

Citing several cases of people staying away from even voting on the excuse of “what difference would it make who is elected?”, the army man in Capt Gopinath emerges when he says that citizens should exude positivism and optimism knowing that somewhere down the line there would be change for the better, if they persist and demand it.

He cites examples of army cantonments and corporate premises which are spic-and-span, and where facilities are well in place. “People ask why is it that everything is so well-maintained within these premises, but outside, it is all so bad. But people who maintain these cantonments, the jawans, are mostly from the villages. It is basically the disciplined culture in the defence which makes them maintain these places,” he says, adding that the reason for the same not replicated in public places is because of a systemic failure.

This systemic failure can be overcome if citizens become more aware and hold the authorities accountable through a collective effort, he says. A citizens personal behaviour, too, is to blame. “We see most us are privately very hygienic, but not publicly so. Thats why people take the pains to keep their homes clean even as they push the dirt on to the roads, which is a public domain,” he says. “We are all perpetrators, beneficiaries and victims. We have to realise that if people get together, we can achieve anything.”


“The Deccan 360 team has done a fantastic job in delivering sensitive and confidential documents exactly as scheduled. They have been very proactive in their approach and fully supportive in accommodating”.

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