In­dia Inc Urges Staff to Per­form their Civic Duty, Vote in Lo­cal Polls

Top brass at 100 cos join aware­ness cam­paigns led by state poll agency

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Kala.Vi­jayragha­van @times­group.com

Mum­bai: Grass­roots democ­racy has found an un­likely mas­cot in Cor­po­rate In­dia: Com­pa­nies in Mum­bai have urged their staff to vote in elec­tions that will de­cide how roads, power, or sewer lines are main­tained in In­dia’s com­mer­cial cap­i­tal and its bur­geon­ing sub­urbs over the next five years.

Top ex­ec­u­tives at about 100 com­pa­nies are lend­ing a help­ing hand to the polling agency to get peo­ple to vote in lo­cal elec­tions, for which more than 20 mil­lion res­i­dents of Mum­bai, Thane, and other lo­ca­tions in Ma­ha­rash­tra are el­i­gi­ble to vote to cre­ate 10 lo­cal coun­cils. The cen­ter­piece in this round of vot­ing is the lo­cal coun­cil for Mum­bai, the coun­try’s largest.

“If we as­pire for good gov­er­nance, we must make the ef­fort to cast our vote,’’ says Harsh Goenka, chair­man of RPG Group that makes au­to­mo­tive tyres and trans­mis­sion tow­ers. “This is when vot­ers have the power to bring the hon­est and right can­di­dates to power.’’ In a per­sonal mes­sage, Goenka has urged his em­ploy­ees to vote.

Com­pa­nies have stepped in to re­mind res­i­dents about their civic duty af­ter the vot­ing per­cent­age plunged to the low­est in the last elec­tions to the lo­cal bod­ies: Only 40% of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers had gone to polling sta­tions when cities last elected their lo­cal coun­cils.

Goenka is joined by com­pa­nies that de­fine Mum­bai’s cor­po­rate iden­tity: In­dia’s largest trac­tor maker M&M, the sec­ond-largest pri­vate lender ICICI Bank, Paytm, HDFC, Go­drej, Vodafone, PwC, Deutsche Bank, Stan­chart, and MCX are

CHOOSE WELL This is when vot­ers have the power to bring the hon­est and right can­di­dates to power HARSHGOENKA Chair­man, RPG Group

among com­pa­nies that have urged res­i­dents to vote. Com­pa­nies be­lieve it is im­por­tant for cit­i­zens to vote to en­sure bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties from the mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion in­stead of just spend­ing the day as a hol­i­day.

“It is a fun­da­men­tal right: Ev­ery­one should ex­er­cise to select the right pro­fes­sion­als for the job,’’ said Su­nil Sood, chief ex­ec­u­tive, Vodafone, In­dia’s sec­ond-largest mo­bile tele­phony com­pany. “In­stead of crib­bing in the cor­ri­dors, get the right peo­ple to bring about the change.”

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