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Friday, February 17, 2012

Simple, Pragmatic Suggestions to Election Commission

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Dear Sir,

We sincerely Thank you for providing us, reasonably good elections so far. While a lot has been achieved but still lot more is required towards Electoral Reforms. We realize that Free and Fair elections are foundation for any Democracy. We also realize that its we the voters who should come forward and play our part, but unfortunately we are sometimes occupied with our jobs, household chores, meetings or even watching the entertaining head over heels Bollywood movies. While all of our consumeristic heeds are important to push us ahead of China, we realize that by not sparing time to vote, we are insanely leaving our houses open, hoping that the Ram Rajya will prevail. While we have many other explanations about why we hope for Euphoria to prevail and prepare ourselves to be embraced by the daemons from heaven, we have few simple suggestions which can make our and your life bit more easy and comfortable. We are not challenging your or capabilities, but we believe that these suggestions can be easily incorporated -

1. Please try to plan to elections over weekends and/ or over lapping with some public holidays. I know that certain officials might not be inclined to work during such odd times, but I think that this step can significantly increase the voter turnout across all categories such as working professionals, students or housewives. We, the people wont mind spending half of the off day to vote, but the probability of voting decreases significantly, if its organized on one of the hectic weekend.

2. Please try to increase the number of voting booths, so that its easy for you to monitor voting in each booth and it takes less time, thus will not hamper many of us from voting, who cant afford to spend hours in que under sun, due to various reasons.

3. Please make some special arrangements for physically handicap, elderly people, pregnant women at the polling booths.

4. As you might be aware that in 20 major cities of our country more than 100 million people, reside, i.e more than 10% of the total population. A significant percentage (guesstimate> 50%) of people are not bonafide of that particular city, hence cant vote. Similarly in several Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and towns (by population). Overall all these migrants (in metros, major cities and towns, including the NRIs) should total to more than 100 million India citizens, who cant vote. So please make simple and clear policies so as to include this group into election process.

5.  Instead of investing your time and resources in taming the Elephant, please try to tame the Liquor barons, the free food, drugs, cash distributors. You may disqualify candidates who found doing these un-democratic misdeeds and all his relatives from contesting in election for next 15 years. Please go on and ban that political party from contesting in the election of that specific constituency.

6. In addition to publishing all information on website, please create information kiosks in each village, town and city from where the citizens can gather information about the affidavits filed by each candidate, current and previous election manifesto of each political parties etc.

 7. Please the Government of India to allocate more funds to you, so that you can round the year propagate and educate the citizens about their rights and responsibilities.

8. Mobile Booths - Big trucks or vans can be converted into a Polling Booth which can travel to remote areas, Colleges, Hospitals, IT Parks etc where lot of potential voters reside but who are not able to visit Polling Booths due to insane traffic, heavy work schedule etc.

Implementing above suggestions wont cost too much of Exchequer's money, but will definitely improve the participation of we the people thus bolstering democracy in many subtle but powerful ways.

Of course the above list is not exhaustive, please add your suggestions in the comments and we can subsequently send an email/letter to Election Commission !





17 comments:

  1. Good one Nitin. I would add another one----examine feasibility of on-line voting. I know there could be security issues but I think reasonable technological solutions also exist today.

    Incidentally, I have never missed voting for over 40 years unless I happened to be out of India. It is the licence to criticise for 5 years, a bargain if ever there was one....

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    1. Thanks Satish. definitely lot of safe options do exist today and I too was thinking about this option, but I guess in addition to preventing the login/pwd getting hacked, election commission will have to maintain perhaps world's biggest database of Login and pwds + all other identification info. Plus there can be a situation that a voter turns out at booth, but his/her vote has been cast online and he/she can claim that's its not cast by them...

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  2. YEs as SAthish sir said, ONLINE voting will help a ton..
    I will be glad if someone from EC reads this

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    1. thanks for the comment Dee, really appreciate it.

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  3. I hope they take your suggestions...

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    1. I guess it can be done Saru..lets hope for the best

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  4. if only democracy actually MEANT democracy.. if you know what i meant.

    good suggestions. plus, candidates who've criminal background should be banned/ just last year or so, apparently half of the candidates of some state election had at least one criminal case filed in their names.

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    1. true Raphael. Our democracy has several flaws it. Criminal background people definitely needs to be barred.

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  5. All the suggestions sound reasonable except for the "relatives of the person found distributing liquor, food, cash" - so often good persons have bad relatives and why should their misdeeds be paid by others? Plus, how do you decide which relatives? Those who live in the same house? first cousins? great grandfather? :)

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  6. Anonymous1:58 PM

    Hi Nitin,

    Good stuff! I would agree with most of your points. I really like the #4 above. I feel #1 is already in place and all institutions/orgs/etc are closed on the day of voting. Similarly, for #3 also there is some provision.

    -Mayank

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    1. thanks for the comment Mayank. In addition to elections for Parliament, several elections other elections takes place in our country other which often remain unnoticed, unheard, un-discussed. So even if those elections are scheduled on weekend or other public holidays, the turnout can increase significantly.

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  7. Corresponding to point1, EC can transfer a little responsibility and economic burden to all the employers (private or gov.) by forcing them to give half day leave in order to cast their vote.
    Whoever cast vote should get a receipt, which he can furnish in his workplace in order to get full payment for the day. The companies then can submit those receipts further to income tax departments in order to obtain some kind of tax benefit. On similar lines all private businesses / retailers etc can be forced to vote.

    Ashish Jain

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    1. thanks for the comment Ashish. However I think forcing companies and businesses etc will be quiet a challenging task and perhaps chaos will increase in the process causing bit of unrest and significant cost to all the involved. My idea is to create an environment, system, facilities where people can easily vote without much of hindrance, so that both the people and the democracy at large gets benefited.

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  8. EC should consider a few of the practical suggestions of which No.3 I think is mandatory. Rest of the suggestions are elitist and I don't think is going to do any good for Indian democracy. Indian EC does a very difficult job & does it quite efficiently. I only hope that the voting, which used to be completed within 2/3 days now a days are stretched up to 5 weeks - well, it became necessary during some period - be shortened again and the process should be finished within a week's time. Indian democracy is now adult enough and EC should repose some reliance on citizens without becoming unscrupulous. I feel shame that voting for provincial Assembly election is stretched for 5 weeks!

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    1. thanks Dipak. I agree that EC is doing a good job but still lot more is to be done. Its a open secret that candidates spend 5-10 times of allowed funds on elections. The idea of above suggestion is to increase the voter base, so that the candidates can afford to create bias by using cheap tactics such as freebies, liquor, cash, capturing etc. I think we cant remain complacent about EC. BMC which manages a budget of $5 Billion witness less than 50% turnout. The reason is more than a third of inhabitants of Mumbai are not eligible to vote for BMC elections. I know of huge project sites, industrial outfit where above 50k people reside, dont have a proper polling booth within reasonable limits. My suggestions are based on my limited understanding of why people dont vote ! Hope to read more often from you..

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  9. Hello,
    I really appricate the way you write .Hats off to you . ..i read some posts by you nd must say your each post is beautifully written .I am not a perfect writer like you but some
    times i just try to write what comes in my heart. my blog url is http://anu-dailypost.blogspot.in/
    keep writing like this ...All the best!!

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    1. Hi Anu, I am humbled by your comment. I hope to see you around, though I honestly don't think that my writing skills are anywhere near good.

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