FAIRNESS AT PLAY: INTRODUCING ELECTORAL
REFORMS TO REDUCE THE INFLUENCE OF
MONEY AND MUSCLE POWER IN POLITICS
TEAM NAME: COCHINMAVERICKS
Sreejith R Menon
Meenakshi Ramesh Babu
“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”
― Abraham Lincoln
STEPS TO REDEFINE INDIAN ELECTORAL SYSTEM
INDIA: WORLD’S LARGEST
DEMOCRACY AT A GLANCE
LOCATION: South Asia
Income level : Lower middle income (US$ 3,176 PPP)
GDP (current US$) $1.842 trillion (2012) 3.2% growth rate
Population: 1.237 billion (2012)
AREA: 3,287,263 square km. (7th largest country by area)
NUMBER OF CONSTITUENCIES :
543 (Spread over 28 states,6 union territories and 1 national territory)
POLLING RATE: 59.7% (5 phases,2009 election)
ELECTION EXPENSES: $ 2 billion ( Survey by CMS, more than US
IMF WORLD BANK GOVERNANCE INDICATORS:
Voice and Accountability, Political Stability, Government Effectiveness,
Regulatory Quality, Rule or Law and Control of Corruption-India ranked half
or below half on all indicators.
TRANSPERANCY INTERNATIONAL- CORRUPTION
Shares 94th position with Benin, Columbia, Moldova, Mongolia, Senegal
(2012 report), amongst 176 countries considered.
NEED FOR ELECTORAL REFORMS
Definition: Change in the systems of election process in order to improve on the
desirability of the public in the election results.
543 members in parliament, population being 1.237 billion or One Member of
Parliament (MP) represents 1.2 million people (1,200,000 people)
Though the voting age has been brought down to18 years, polling percentage is just
59.7% (5 phases,2009 election)
Delimitation of constituencies: Just the boundaries have changed but the number of
constituencies has remained the same. In this case the delimitation should have been
in the number of voters and not the geographical boundaries.
61 Indians with billions of dollars regulate the one-third of GDP growth of the
country whereas 80 per cent of the population earn only Rs 20 daily.
162 MPs out of 543 elected in 2009 have criminal cases against them; 26% increase
In terms of campaign finance, the election commission prescribes the maximum
limit allowed under election expenditure (Rule 90 of the Conduct of Election Rules,
1961). Although supporters of a candidate can spend as much as they like to help
out with a campaign, they have to get written permission of the candidate, and whilst
parties are allowed to spend as much money on campaigns as they want.
Data also suggests that higher the assets the more are the chances of winning of a
candidate..In addition to this, percentage growth in assets of 304 MPs who re-
contested in the 2009 was 289%. While candidates have to file affidavits
demonstrating their election expenditure, most of those are allegedly understated.
In terms of funding of political parties, there is a provision where donors who
contribute a sum less than INR 20,000 are allowed to be anonymous. The
source of 85% of donations is unavailable. Between 2004 and 2011, the
Congress received over Rs 2,004 crore from donors; the BJP got about Rs
994 crore, BSP said it received a total Rs 172.67 crore in 2009-2011, but
claimed that not a single donor gave above Rs 20,000!
Overall estimated expense on election 2009: Rs 10,000-16,000 crore. Doesn't
include non-cash "gifts", about 25% is cash bribes.
In a constituency with 4 candidates: Rs 1 crore approximate authorized
expenditure's 5-16 crore actual expenditure .
Cash bribes from candidates spent on liquor, repaying loans, daily expenses
and other essentials that cannot wait—usually fall under unproductive
expenditure and are not accounted.
The average cash handout is expected to rise, according to a CMS survey,
from Rs 100 per person in election 2004, to Rs 500 this year.
Election expenses likely to be about 0.2% of the GDP in 2009; not significant
by itself, except that the entire sum is spent over just one month.
Scams and Scandals-Politicians or next of kin involved (Rs. In Crores)
Indian Coal Mining 185,591.34 Comptroller & Auditor General, Coal ministry,
many electricity boards and private companies.
Karnataka Wakf Board Land Scam Rs.200,000. Accused 38 Congressmen.
Uttar Pradesh NRHM Scam Rs.10,000 Mayawati, Anant Kumar Mishra.
2G Scam Rs. 176,000 Nira Radia, A. Raja, M. K. Kanimozhi, many
In the 15th Lok Sabha, the average age of women MPs was
47 while the average age of male MPs was 54 years. But
percentage of youth below 25 years of age is 51% and that
below 35 years is 66%. The average age of an Indian MP
is 53. Fourteen per cent are over 65. Only 6.5 per cent are
under 35. Perhaps the Lok Sabha should be renamed the
House of Elders since the current one is the third oldest
Lok Sabha met for an average of 127 days in the 1950s and
Rajya Sabha for 93 days. This has decreased to 73 days for
both Houses in 2011. Without ample time for discussion of
topics, lesser bills are passed and consensus reached.
• Increase in Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by one unit; annual GDP per capita
increases by 1.7% ( European physical journal, June 2008,issue 4 , pp 547-550). A
glorious example is the least corrupted state of Gujarat whose growth rate
matches the fast developing regions of china ( July 2011, the Economist).
• Informed voters make better choices in electing a government. Finding by
Banerjee, Kumar, Panda, Su, November 2011. A sole set of awareness methods can
alone create better participation of people in election.
• Being member of parliament should be a non-profit job, rather than most sought
after job with highest returns possible. In Switzerland, MP’s get leave from their
employers on session days. On average, an Indian MP gets an assured salary of 1.3
• A highly qualified software engineer fetches 1.65-6 Lacs, which’s While to
become an MP, age of 25 years or above and majority remains the only criteria.
MP’s expense is 6 times that of Indian per capita GDP ( US$ 3176 PPP).
• MP’s are entitled for life-long pension, even if he/she remains MP for a day,
which’s at par with bureaucrats who have to serve 30-35 years to get the same
pension. So is the case with defense personnel, who are not entitled for pension
unless they complete the stipulated bond period.
• As per Election Commission there are 363 parties in India. 7 National parties, 32
State Parties, 242 registered but unorganized parties.
Set basic eligibility for getting into politics. It should be multi-dimensional. Preference
for NSS, NCC, Red Cross etc. for people have served the society when they were in
school or colleges should be made a mandate.
Political parties shall be barred from contesting in elections or their representative
be removed from office if they turn into violent practices, planned assault,
conspiracy etc. and shall be charged criminal cases. Need for mandates to keep an
optimum number of parties creating the election process more tedious, confusing
Amendment of Representation of People bill (2010) demands ‘physical presence’ of
NRI to vote and hence participate in elections. Off –country polling stations with the
co-operation of world nations, postal voting etc needs to be practiced to ensure every
citizen of the country takes part in the process of election. Passports, Biometirc
identity, green card, Visa details etc can be used to prevent fake votes by NRIs.
Every parliamentarian should be made to undergo re-training or learn short term
courses in ‘Governance, management and allied disciplines’ from a central
university in off-campus form and certification be made a mandate for further
positions in the parliament and coming elections.
Study of Indian History, Polity, World nations, Indian Constitution, Rights and Duties,
IPC, Law & Order etc should be made continuous and necessary subjects in schools
Eligibility for contesting in elections need to be made strict. People with criminal back
grounds and pending cases shall not be given a chance to contest in the election. They
may be asked to maintain high level of transparency in worker details, yearly
financial statements, activity plans and shall be handed over to a central agency
under the election commission.
A limit to contest in the elections shall be brought about. It should be kept as ‘three’
terms and made sure that it’s being followed.
MPs income shall be taxed. They should be paid their perks only when productive
norms are met. Attending any assembly session shall not be the criteria for salary,
unless there’s effective participation in decision making. Payments shall be made
only for those who meet specified targets.
Election Commission (EC) should monitor party activities not alone during election
times, but in between elections as well. Staggering increase in assets of MP’s during
power shall be treated as public looting and they should be removed from office.
A great role can be played by ‘media’ to generate public opinion on any topic of
interest. They should act as mediators of right information and happenings. They
should also try to follow up the incident so that citizens have an increased level of
awareness. They should rise from the level of ‘sensationalizing an event’.
Introduce absentee ballot system.
Rule 49-O should be practiced in exit polls, helps the EC and also the political
parties know more about people’s opinion. A rule should be made such that a
minimum percentage of population (80% of people in the constituency) needs to
participate to keep the election valid.
Press Trust of India. (2009, March 1). Lok Sabha polls to cost more than US presidential election.
Live Mint. Retrieved from http://www.livemint.com/Politics/sFrNtS4yTgirv7rY0y8CHO/Lok-Sabha-
Election Commission of India. (n.d.). Lok Sabha Election Expenditure. Retrieved from
Venkatesan, J. (2013, July 10). MPs, MLAs to be disqualified on date of criminal conviction. The
Hindu. Retrieved from http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mps-mlas-to-be-disqualified-on-date-
Election Commission of India. (n.d.). FAQ’s Contesting for Elections. Retrieved from
Singh, G. (2011, February 28). Poll expense hiked by 60 per cent but MPs want more. India Today.
Retrieved from http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/poll-expense-hiked-but-mps-want-
Singh, P. (2009, April 6). The Unseen Annas. Outlook India. Retrieved from
Association for Democratic Reforms. (2009). Lok Sabha Election Watch 2009. Retrieved from
Association for Democratic Reforms. (2009). Analysis of Criminal and Financial Details of MP’s of
15th Lok Sabha (2009). Retrieved from
Chhibber, M. (2013, March 26). Govt. blocks EC move to make party funding transparent. The
Indian Express. Retrieved from http://www.indianexpress.com/news/govt-blocks-ec-move-to-make-