For all of March 09 the country has been gearing up for the General Election 2009 and the process will continue through April and into May. Held at a whooping 2 billion rupees it is a spectacle to behold from both an administrative and logistical point of view. And I sometimes wonder, if this country can hold such a mega event with such fairness, precision and coordination, what ails us when it comes to governance, the gross inefficiency is as much a sight to behold as the efficient elections, or should we hand over the running of this country to the election commission too?.
The enthusiasm for the elections continues to mount and we have just completed the third phase of elections, with two more to go. Listening to election analyst Mr Yogandra Yadav on CNN-IBN, he introspectively analyzed that the ‘vote is the weapon of the poor’, their one chance to go out and change things in their favor. And how right he is, back in the villages of India, hope of ‘change’ is what helps a voter decide whom to vote for. Some may like to believe that voters vote on party lines, but this is not a common phenomenon, more common is the ‘change’ factor. Can the guy I vote for bring ‘change’, improve our lives, lets give him a opportunity to prove himself, and so on.
But in this post I’m not discussing why people vote, in fact I want to write about just the opposite. Why people don’t vote, and one of those people who didn’t vote was me. Not because I had any political statement to make but due to lack of choice!!.
I am a registered voter in my home state of Goa, If I need to register myself in Bangalore I need to prove that I am a resident here. But I live as a paying guest, I have no proof of residence, so registering myself in Bangalore is not an option. Importantly I’m not acquainted with the political scenario here and so even if I had an opportunity to vote I wouldn’t know whom to vote for, except make a choice along party lines, that too the national ones only, most of us people from outside the State hardly know the regional parties. So in effect I would be able to make the best choice if I were to vote in Goa.
Metropolitan cities consists of millions of people, from all parts of the country, a large majority of them are a floating population like me, working here but with no political identity, and I’m sure most of them are as disenfranchised as me.
Recently I learnt that even Indian students in the US can vote, though they have to go the Indian Embassy, but me, very much at home, cannot, simply because I am not in my State where I have the voters card.
Strange, isn’t it, that millions are disenfranchised for this simple reason.
Today, we book all kinds of tickets online, do bank transactions and share loads of confidential personal information on sites and all of them have found a way to keep this information protected and confidential, so why cant the Election Commission. Why can’t the database of all those registered voters be online, why can’t a software be introduced where I can quote my registration number, verify my name and other details and be allowed to vote?
India uses electronic voting machines, far safer and easier to use than the paper ballot, why then can’t we go online with the voting too. This way, people don’t even have to put their jobs and lives on hold while they stand in lines at polling booths, often risking their lives in violence prone areas. Nor will people have to travel hours, at their own expense to go home to the town they are registered at.
If you look at it closely, voting online could save millions of rupees of the government and for the economy. The voting rate will increase, especially among the educated Indians and the country will get a better government.
India is growing in leaps and bounds, breaking into new frontiers, Voting online will be one new invaluable one, I hope the Election Commission is thinking along these lines.