In a democratic system, a citizen has various responsibilities and duties towards a nation.

Voting is one of them. In order to represent our ideas, to be a part of the decision-making process and make our voices heard, it is indispensable to take part in the ballot. Voting makes a difference in ensuring better healthcare, childcare, education, transport, roads and basic income.

However, lack of awareness about the importance of polls, inability to pick the right leaders and the practice of purchasing and selling votes have caused the socio-economic downfall of countries like Nepal.

As a conscious citizen, I have seen many youngsters exchanging their precious votes for a glass of wine or a litre of petrol. After the elections, I constantly hear them cursing the political leaders for their inability to fulfill the development promises. But in the next election, they vote for the same leaders who failed to realise the promises made.

This notion of voting for a traditionally popular political party has caused uncertainty. Instead of supporting young, rational, patriotic and deserving candidates, we keep on voting for the same contestants again and again just because our grandparents and parents voted for them. Unless a citizen leaps out of the conventional mindset of voting for a popular political party, no state can see change.

Inability to choose visionary, innovative, ideal and qualified contenders leads to unending political instability. Failure to understand the worth of a vote increases the chances of unemployment, crime, violence and even war. Picking up the wrong leaders invites negative results.

Inability to vote for candidates for their rationality, decisiveness and skills will ruin a nation's future.

Mostly, we don't feel the need of knowing the background of the candidates whom we are going to vote. Similarly, we don't believe in young talents. We never give an opportunity simply because they are young.

How can anyone prove themselves unless they are given a chance? A single vote can play a great role in changing the nation's fate. So, a campaign against the practice of vote-buying and selling must be conducted through the media. From the school level, students must be taught about the significance and role of a vote. They must be able to identify the best and worst candidates.

The media also must highlight and support young, committed and ideal applicants to bring sustainable development, peace and humanity.

Most importantly, the conventional notion of voting for the most-liked political party must be done away with.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 2, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.