5 bad ideas for Indian elections...

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 12, 2014 07:41 hrs

1. Compulsory voting: Recently Gujarat passed a bill to make voting compulsory. That is extremely problematic, especially for a populous and diverse country like India. For one, how will that increase the quality of candidates in any way?

If all the candidates are not worthy then what difference does it make if one person votes or one million? Secondly, how will you punish those who don't vote? In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections hundreds of millions didn't vote? How will you chase all of them?

Then what if you fall ill? How will you get away? Will you have to give a doctor's certificate? If that's the case, then what prevents millions of fake doctor certificates from flooding the EC offices?

The Indian police force and judicial process is as it is burdened. Adding more such "crimes" would be a choking of the system. Lok Sabha/Assembly/municipal elections keep taking all over India. Having hundreds of millions of habitual offenders will be a nightmare.

Then what about the poor who find the booth too far away or those who find voting will take away one day's earnings? Compulsory voting may work in developed sparsely populated countries, but definitely not in India.

In developed countries the level of fraud is less as mentioned by the ease of getting fake medical certificates in India. And what if during this period you have to visit a foreign country or get married or do some urgent business?

A better way would be to make it easier for defence services personnel and NRIs to vote to boost the numbers.

2. Impotent NOTA button: In the original proposal, if NOTA got maximum votes, then all the candidates would get disqualified and new ones would have to be put up. In the current system if NOTA gets a million votes and even one candidate gets one vote, he gets elected.

Basically that means if you sit at home and not vote or go to the booth and press NOTA, then it is one and the same thing.

3. Banning chargesheeted politicians:
This "hundreds of MPs/MLAs are criminals as they have been chargesheeted" is way over-rated. Like did you know that it even included Bollywood star Govinda because someone found a song that he danced to obscene?

Most are chargesheeted due to political protests. If that happens, then the ruling government would simply file hundreds of chargesheets against its opponents just before nomination day.

A better thing would be to just concentrate on serious crimes like rape, murder and corruption and disqualify if a court accepts a case and not a chargesheeted case.

That would be much more genuine and that would weed out the black sheep among politicians.

4. Low campaign amounts per candidate: This is supposed to make a level-playing field, but the rich candidates spend more black money anyway. That way the American system is the best. You can spend as much as you want, but you have to give detailed accounts.

In such a system an honest candidate would have incentive to expose a rich candidate using black money. That is how a rank outsider and underdog like Barack Obama could raise $500 million in 2008.

If you back unlimited funds in white money, then the brighter and more charismatic candidates get more funds. There is no shortage of money in India. Converting black money to white should be more important and not the actual amount.

5. No regular delimitations:
The 1951 census found 361 million Indians and the Lok Sabha had 489 seats. The 1971 census found 548 million Indians and the 1977 Lok Sabha had 542 seats. The population has more than doubled since 1977 and yet the Lok Sabha seats have not increased.

At the outset, rural areas had about 80% Lok Sabha seats thanks to the population distribution of India. Now by some estimates 40% of India lives in cities and yet the number of Lok Sabha seats in the cities has not caught up.

We probably need a Lok Sabha of 700 seats today to truly represent India and many more in the cities. Then only justice will be done to each and every district in India.