In the last 15 years we have regularly seen India being compared with China. We all are ashamed that our growth rate has been nothing compared to China. Every-time we try to find a reason for the same the conclusion is – India is a democracy, unlike China.
Another regular refrain we here is – ‘Is desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta’. When we discuss why? The common response we get is, because of the politics in this country. We believe that good people cannot survive in Indian politics the way it is structured. In the last 2 years we saw that changing. Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal raised the hopes of people and we saw a very higher level of participation by people. (How much our expectation has been met after initial euphoria is a separate debate for some other time).
We learnt that if we have to change the country for good we have to change the politics in this country. And we will have to do it by remaining an outsider as the best of people once they get into the political system they become ‘u-turn’ politicians.
Democracy looked like a perfect system in theory and we kept failing to understand why it is failing so miserably in practice. Then we tried to identify what are the key structures which is making the democracy to fail so miserably. The top three reasons we managed to identify were:
1 1. Low voter turnout (lack of active participation of people in the democracy process)
2 2. Funding of election expenses
- Vote bank politics
We concluded that this is what we need to change to change the country. And Right2Vote is targeted to change that forever.
1 1. Low voter turnout: Of all the reasons we identified this appears to be the biggest reason for lack of efficient democracy in the country. Democracy is meant to be –Government of the people, by the people and for the people. If people keep cursing the Indian politics sitting in their drawing rooms and not actually coming out to vote then we can never have an efficient democracy. In the last national elections only 2/3rd of the eligible voters actually voted. This excludes people who didn’t even get themselves enrolled in the voter list. We identified following to be key reasons for low voter turnout.
- Laziness / time constraints / weather / long queue: We saw a large population which was very active on social media and other political debates, did not go out to vote just out of laziness with an excuse from the ones listed above.
We intend to solve this problem by bringing the booth to them. They can sit in their comfortable home / offices and vote on their mobile in seconds. No time constrains / weather issues / long queue.
- Geographical location / distance to booth: Second biggest reason we identified was that the voter was geographically far away from the booth where he is supposed to vote. This was due to several reasons including:
- NRIs and others who are based out of India for employment reasons
- Migrants who are located in district other than their home district for employment, education, marriage or other reasons.
- People travelling on voting day due to professional, employment, business, recreational, social or other reasons.
- People with disability, health issues, or simply lack of transportation facility
- Soldiers and other government employees including election staff who are posted to district other than home district.
We intend to solve this problem again by bringing the booth to them no matter where they are. They can use their mobile to vote from anywhere in the world
III. Voter list enrollment, verification, missing names, lack of knowledge of location of booth: There is another set of people who were not able to enroll in the voters list in time. Or there name was not correctly mentioned, or were not able to get their name transferred to right district in time. Or simply, they didn’t receive their voter id card or were not aware of the voting dates, time and location.
We intend to solve this problem by giving the voters real time notifications and reminders on their mobile. Government is already working on linking all voter id cards with Aadhaar numbers and the mobile numbers. We will be sending regular notifications and reminders to voters not only for voting but also in case of any formalities need to be completed by them to be eligible for voting.
2 2. Funding of election expenses: It’s a well-known fact that all candidates spend much more than the permitted amount in elections. The result is people need substantial funding to fund their election expenses and as these expenses are beyond the permitted limit it has to be done with black money.
Election expenses increases exponentially because election happens over months in India. All advertising campaign on national Medias like print, television, social media need to be carried on again and again for months. With Right2Vote the manpower required to manage the election is negligible and hence election can be held on the same day all over the country. This would substantially reduce the campaigning budget. Also, with complete voter population connected and registered for e-voting reaching out to them by electronic means and during targeted advertisement would be much cheaper than print and television and much more efficient then outdoor mediums like posters, banners, door to door visit and election rallies.
3 3. Vote bank politics: Indians still vote based on the candidate’s caste and religion rather than based on national issues that affect them. Due to this reason most parties come up with promises which are to appease certain communities and get their vote. National interest takes a back seat.
With Right2Vote a huge population of migrants including international and national migrants would be added to the voter list. These are people who have moved out of their protected communities and living in a cosmopolitan environment and are less susceptible to vote bank politics. These migrants are generally averse to caste or religion based vote bank politics and would generally avoid candidates who seek vote based on caste and religion. This will force political parties to rethink their election strategies and avoid vote bank politics. Also, if elections are held in a day rather than over months, the political parties would be forced to talk on common national issues during elections rather than focusing on regional vote banks.
What we have mentioned above is only during elections. But beyond elections also, in an effective democracy public should be able to get involved and voice their opinion on key policy decisions like net neutrality, Gay rights, odd even etc. Right2Vote platform aims to make Indian democracy more participate.
We look forward to your participation to realize our common dream of effective and efficient democracy in India. Please download the app Right2Vote from Android’s play store or Apple’s app store.