Democracy in turmoil?

Posted on March 31, 2010 in Politics at Play

Vandana Radhakrishnan:

In the world’s greatest democracy, I was ashamed to read through the newspaper which mentioned that the voter turnout for the BBMP (Bruhut Benguluru Mahanagara Palike) elections in Bangalore was a miniscule 44%. Not even half the population of this metropolitan city chose to cast their votes. The turnout was so low, that even the Chief Minister, B.S Yeddyurappa, expressed his concerns and asked for a survey to be conducted in order to find the reasons behind the extremely low number of voters coming in to cast their vote. In this story covered by The Times of India, what caught my attention was the suggestion to make voting compulsory for all the local body elections in Karnataka. And what if you still don’t vote? Your driving license, subsidized gas connections and ration could be at stake!

In the country where we are proud to have the freedom of expression that we do and a democratic system where the government is of the people, by the people and for the people, it is a shame that voting has to be made mandatory by the Government. It is a shame that individuals, who can cast their vote, prefer to sit at home watching television, or surfing the internet, or working at office, than giving 5 minutes of their time to go and make their decision and play their part in the functioning of the Government. If casting a vote seems to be just another random thing to do, then no one, who has ever missed going to the polling booths on time, should have the freedom to disapprove of or criticize any of the acts of the Government. What comes across as even more frustrating is that many of those who did not cast the vote were educated individuals, who shoulder the responsibility of the progress of our nation. The democracy which we give so much prominence to seems to be at risk.

In addition to the ignorance shown by the people themselves, many other regular, every-election-time problems also exited, as usual. Many, who went to cast their vote, did not see their names in the voters’ list or found their names in the wrong ward numbers.

A significant step, on the part of the Government, which can probably boost the voter turnout, will happen in 2012 — the UID cards. Many people, in metropolitan citizens like Bangalore, who are presently in the city for work or education, are unable to cast their votes during elections since their voting wards are in their respective regions or states. As travelling between the two states would turn out to be unfeasible for most of them, due to many economic and social reasons, they decide to stay here, and thus miss out on casting their votes. However, this is something which would be of worry only till 2012. The Government of India, to solve this problem, and many other related to security concerns has decided to issue UID’s, Unique Identity Cards for every citizen of the country. So, from 2012, it would be possible to cast your vote, from anywhere.

The government, therefore, has promised and planned to take its step for a better functional democracy.

We need to take that step too.

Don’t miss to caste your vote in the next elections. It’s our right as well as our duty.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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Abhishek

Leaving aside the utterly ludicrous notion that in a nation where, what, 50% of the population subsist at or below the poverty line (1.25$ a day) and whose GINI index is steadily increasing, UID’s should be an important concern… what’s troubling about this article is how the usual rhetoric about absentee voters is being trumpeted out without, seemingly, the slightest bit of introspection by the author (prefer to sit at home watching television, or surfing the internet, or working at office). There are quite a few ways to understanding low turnout. A few of them, out of the top of my head (economic indicators such as income distribution, growth in incomes at various levels of society, promises made/broken by politicos in recent terms…etc, etc.)

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