India tries art to win young voters
In this year's parliamentary polls, Indian election officials seek to appeal to young voters by using graffiti and other artistic mediums.
Over 800 million Indians will cast their vote to elect the 16th Lok Sabha. That is an increase of 100 million voters compared to the 2009 polls. Elections are scheduled to begin on April 7.
About 23 million are first time voters aged 18 - 19 years old. The Election Commission says getting youth and women to vote are its top priorities.
To motivate youth to vote, the Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) program was launched in 2010. The National Voters' Day is celebrated on January 25 to encourage young people to get active.
As part of targeted initiatives, walls in Shillong, the capital of the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya, are painted with graffiti to attract young voters.
Young and dynamic
Donny Malcolm Wallang, additional district commissioner of Shillong, says they are employing "dynamic methods" to attract young voters. Activities include flying clubs, essay, drawing, debate and quiz contests, graffiti, competitions in art, dancing, singing, slogan writing, on-air jingle contest, and a 'Run for Democracy Marathon.'
Graffiti artist Careen Joplin Langstieh says, "We are inspired by street artwork in Germany and other countries. We try to integrate local motifs and symbols such as monoliths, traditional dresses, and village buses."
Artists have been commissioned to create graffiti that will "visually connect with youth," using airbrushing and stenciling.
Every vote counts
In 2009 general elections, Meghalaya had 64.38 percent voter turnout. Through graffiti, the Election Commission wants to send the message to young voters that "every vote counts."