Sunday, August 15, 2004

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Independence Day Speech

PM Manmohan Singh gave an inspiring speech on the occassion of India's 58th Independence Day. Evoking the spirit of the Indian freedom movement and the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi the PM talked of fusing governmental endeavor with citizen participation. The speech addressed the most pressing concerns of the Indian people. Water issues featured prominently in his speech. A welcome sign of government atleast acknowledging a problem and then suggestions such as local water management indicate a thoughtfulness of sustainable and environment friendly solutions. Unlike the ecologically disastrous idea of linking rivers.

The full text of the speech is at the site of THE HINDU, which they obtained from the PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU, GOVERNMENT OF INDIA.

PM Manmohan Singh's Speech

Peace and Jai Hind.


Monday, August 02, 2004

Voter Registration

Americans are notorious for their dis-interest in voting. Anecdotally, 60% of people eligible to vote in the US actually voted in the 2000 US presidential election and of those actually registered to vote, 86% of registered voters actually filled out a ballot (info provided by the US Census Bureau). That actually seems higher than we're usually lead to believe. In any case, Americans are usually "shamed" into registering by showing examples of much higher voting percentages in other countries. India is typically used as an example where, no matter what, the populus turns out en-masse to have their say about who will represent them.

So recently, I participated in a voter registration drive. This time of year is key to getting folks to register since the presidential race is finally starting to heat up. The usual strategy to get citizens to register is to get them where it's easy for them to fill out the form. This time, we had a booth at a charity dance party. Before the event I didn't expect too many folks would bother with spending 5 minutes to fill out the form. And true to expectations, very few individuals came up to our booth to register. But the interesting fact was that when we went up to party-goers, a large number of them willingly put their drinks down and filled out the form. The more interesting thing was that many of them had comments about how interested they were in the election - democrats and republicans, both. It was heartening to see that people showed their interest on a night when most people probably didn't expect to see a voter registration drive. By the end of the night, our registration box was full.

Lesson learned? People are more than interested in the upcoming US Presidential elections. There's no need to "shame" them into registering. They may not show interest right up front, but simply engaging them with a question or two will get them talking, and hopefully follow through at the ballot box in November.