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  2. 2. 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 elections) 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 PERCEPTION INDEX. Shares 94th position with Benin, Columbia, Moldova, Mongolia, Senegal (2012 report), amongst 176 countries considered.
  3. 3. 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 from 2004.  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.
  4. 4.  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 telecommunications companies.
  5. 5.  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 since Independence.  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.
  6. 6. CRUDE FACTS • 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 lacs. taxable. • 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.
  7. 7. SOLUTIONS  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 and time-consuming.  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 and colleges.
  8. 8.  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.
  9. 9. Appendix  Press Trust of India. (2009, March 1). Lok Sabha polls to cost more than US presidential election. Live Mint. Retrieved from polls-to-cost-more-than-US-presidential-election.html  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 of-criminal-conviction/article4901596.ece  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 more/1/131094.html  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,%20financial%20&%20educational%20analysis %20LS%202009.pdf  Chhibber, M. (2013, March 26). Govt. blocks EC move to make party funding transparent. The Indian Express. Retrieved from party-funding-transparent/1093476/