By Maitreyee Boruah
Bangalore, March 31 (IANS) They came in droves and jived to popular rock beats that had a blunt message - "Shut up and vote". Swayed by the power of music, they promised to do so in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
In terms of numbers, the boisterous young crowds that thronged rock music shows in India's tech hub and four metros were small - around 10,000 in each place.
But the Bangalore-based rock band Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ), which belted a lyric composed by it for the 'Shut Up and Vote' campaign, is happy with the result. So are the show organisers.
"The 'Shut Up and Vote' tour was fabulous right through the five cities. Thank you for attending the finale at Bangalore, and thank you for staying and cheering through every song, and singing along to every last word of every chorus. We love you. But now, please go and vote," the band said in its blog 'TAAQin', after ending its whirlwind campaign here Saturday.
"Through voting and electing quality leaders, the youth can strengthen the roots of Indian democracy. So put that index finger to good use - shut up and vote!," the blog urged, carrying forward the campaign to enthuse the apathetic Indian youth to participate in the world's biggest battle of the ballots.
The band was roped in to stir the urban youth to vote by the Tata Tea-sponsored 'Jaago Re' (Wake up)! One Billion Votes' campaign and Bangalore-based NGO Janaagraha.
The concerts started at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus in Chennai March 20. The band then travelled to Kolkata's Presidency College (March 23), Pragati Maidan in New Delhi (March 25), D.Y. Patel College, Mumbai (March 27) and ended at St Jospeh's College of Commerce, Bangalore (March 28).
The band composed a special song as a part of the campaign and the lyrics were - "Shut up and Vote/Shut up and Vote/You've got the dope, you're the antidote/Shut up and Vote/Shut up and Vote/You're so smart but you're running out of hope/It's all a mess, I must confess/The system seems a joke/Should you make the steal, reinvent the wheel/Or simply go for broke?"
The words were penned by TAAQ's three members - vocalist/guitar player Bruce Lee Mani, drummer Rajeev Rajagopal and vocalist/bass player Rzhude. The band was started in 1996.
The song has become quite a rage among youngsters and the video of the song is being circulated on the Internet.
"We got amazing response from the youth in all the cities. The rock concerts were part of our campaign to make the youth vote. We asked them to vote instead of lamenting about various flaws in the system, by choosing the right candidate," Jasmine Shah, Campaign Coordinator, Jaago Re! One Billion Votes, told IANS.
"We're happy that music, always a popular form of expression among youths, helped us reach so many people," added Shah.
In between the rock shows in the five cities, announcements were made by Jaago Re volunteers on the need to vote.
"Through announcements we told the audience about the importance of voting and voting for the right candidate," said Vandana Krishnan of Janaagraha, set up in 2001.
Vandana said the campaign to motivate the youth would continue and not end with the rock concerts. Members of the NGO plan to visit college campuses in various cities to reach out to young voters.
"We're also toying with several other ideas to make the campaign more attractive as the elections are very near," said Vandana.
"Voter registration in several places has almost come to an end. So encouraging people to register themselves is meaningless. Now we target that all the registered voters must vote."
The Jaago Re campaign was launched six months ago. As a part of the campaign, a dedicated website www.jaagore.com was started, where would-be voters could register online and get directions for the registration process.
Around 545,000 youth across the country have registered with the site.