Voter’s Dilemma

2004-4-20-india-vote.jpgIt is an undeniable fact that some serious measures are necessary for the smooth functioning of Indian democracy. All our efforts should be directed to make electoral processes simpler and easier to understand, so that people vote, and vote for the right candidate.

India is the world’s largest democracy. We have the highest number of voters. However, in the last few years, the number of people participating in the electoral process has gone down by huge numbers. While residents of rural areas come in large number to cast their votes, the same cannot be said about the urban people. It is shocking to see that less than 50 per cent of the people participate in the democratic process in which India takes great pride.

The learned and the right-minded strongly feel that there is a need to amend the Constitution, in order to attract more number of people and encourage them to vote. The politicians can be blamed for this trend as they have discouraged the people from voting, having made false promises year after year. The Constitution needs to be more electorate friendly as times have changed. The young population of India is getting more alienated, as they are getting busier with their jobs and shifting from one place to another.

The Government needs to think on new lines and make amendments with respect to the right to vote and bring some changes in the electoral process. In India, we have at least four to six elections every year. The expenditure incurred to carry out these elections results in sheer wastage of public money. Considering the present case, after the 2004 General Elections, there have been elections in at least eight states and there are a few more lined up before the 2009 elections. In this scenario, what happens is that the political parties are busy working on strategies for the next elections and cannot concentrate on the developmental policies and issues of national interest. This can be done by having all the elections at the same time, which will save public money, their time and enable our ‘netas’ to work on some worthy issues.

In India, the participation of young people in the election process is declining. One reason is that many young students move from their home location to other places for studies and subsequently get jobs in different places. Therefore they are unable to vote. Hence, proxy voting facility should be introduced, so that the people living in states other than their home states can also use their right to vote in that state. They are earning in that state and equally share the advantages and disadvantages of that state.

PAN cards could be an effective solution, they could serve as personal identity for all purposes and several offences could also be controlled.

The other important thing is that we need to make elections a simple process. For the convenience, we may think of introducing Internet voting. Healthy skepticism about Internet voting is good, but Estonia has shown how it could be a shot in the arm for a democracy. During the presidential elections this year, Estonians sat in their homes and offices, logged on to a particular website and used a smart card reader to vote. This can be introduced in India too. Though this media is vulnerable, but we can at least give it a try in the municipal elections.

Some serious measures are necessary for the smooth functioning of Indian democracy. All our efforts should be directed to make these electoral processes simpler and easier to understand and practice so that we can choose the right leaders.

Rishabh Srivastava

[image courtesy:]