Published: 22nd April 2019
Why Pawan Rochwani is getting India's artists to air their views on politics via #VoteMeDum
The young founder of Platform for Artists is taking it upon himself to raise a little awareness about the people whom Pune (and Indian) will be voting for, findsNandhini Srinivasan. Are you listening?
With the Lok Sabha elections literally days away, Platform for Artists — a community organisation dedicated to connecting artists across India — has started a campaign called #VoteMeDum. This video-based campaign will have a series of blog posts and interviews aimed at educating the public on their candidates and the political scenario in the city of Pune. Pawan Rochwani, the 25-year-old founder of Platform for Artists (PFA) spearheads this campaign and is out there interviewing the people standing for election, "We've uploaded video interviews of Girish Bapat, who is the BJP Candidate in Pune, and Mohan Joshi, who is the candidate for the Congress in Pune," he explains.
Along with these interviews, they're also publishing interviews with politically-opinionated artists (chosen by popular opinion) to ensure people know what they're thinking. This is quite close to the work they do all year long anyway, "An artist being politically opinionated is not welcomed in our country. People tend to say things like 'This is not (your) work. This is not (your) segment'," he says, explaining why the opinions that artists hold about politics, should matter. "I think it is our responsibility to be politically opinionated in this country," he states strongly, "We've been given this right to vote and the authority to choose the government. Even if I'm a theatre artist or visual artist, it isn't that I can't be politically motivated or responsible towards my vote."
Pawan Rochwani feels strongly about artivism, which inspired him to start this campaign. "I previously worked with NGOs before starting PFA, and we used to engage in a lot of political decisions, and participate in political activities, and talk about politics. In the past two years, I haven't seen that conversation happen with artists, at least in Pune," he comments sadly, going on to stress the need for awareness and public involvement in politics.
PFA has already uploaded a video about the people of Pune and their opinions as part of the campaign to create awareness about the general public opinion, and encourage people to go out and vote this election season. Having done a lot of interviews and gauging the pulse of the people, Pawan had a lot of insights to offer about how people are reacting to politics. "People know who they want to vote for and which party, but they don't seem to know why they are voting for them," he observes astutely, "People have weird reasons for voting for someone. It is either based on years of voting for the same political party, casteism or any other form of favouritism. When I asked my watchman who he plans on voting for, he said, ‘BJP' without even knowing who the candidate is, because his family has been voting for the BJP for years. I would like to tell youngsters that this is not how we vote," he adds.
Pawan also expressed his interest in extending this campaign beyond these Lok Sabha elections. “The Maharashtra Assembly elections are scheduled for October 2019, so if we receive a positive response from this campaign, we will continue this then as well, and use the influence we have in a responsible manner,” he concludes.