Tech is the overriding theme of free symbols released by the Election Commission of India, reflecting India’s swift transformation from a traditional country to an urban nation. From CCTV camera to computer mouse, pen drive to laptop and mobile charger to bread toaster, accessories that have become a part of our daily lives are among the crop of symbols assigned to independent candidates and unrecognised parties, marking quite an evolution from free symbols of yesteryears — bullock cart, axe, basket, candle and carrot. The lantern and broom, once free symbols, have now become reserved symbols of Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janta Dal and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party.
“This points to the transformation of the country from Bharat to India. It all started with a bullock cart and similar symbols several decades ago. Today we have robots and laptops to choose from,” says political analyst Biswanath Chakraborty.
In the first Lok Sabha elections, 90% of the electorate were from rural India. According to the 2011 census data, 37% of India now lives in cities and towns. For this burgeoning urban populace, laptops and cellphones are empowering social symbols.
Analysts like Chakraborty feel the new-age symbols will help politicians attract young voters who form a bulk of India’s electorate and will play an influential role in swinging opinion.
Ujjan Ghosh, 20, is pursuing a course in artificial intelligence from a private engineering college. For him, an election symbol is his first introduction to a party. “I know what I can expect from the candidate or the outfit when I see the symbol,” he says.