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Voter’s apathy worrisome

Voter’s apathy worrisome
Highlights

More than half of the voters in Hyderabad preferred to stay away from voting. The lack of interest in democracy for lakhs of citizens is certainly a cause of concern. Democracy is the most representative form of political organisation that human civilisation has heralded so far. 

More than half of the voters in Hyderabad preferred to stay away from voting. The lack of interest in democracy for lakhs of citizens is certainly a cause of concern. Democracy is the most representative form of political organisation that human civilisation has heralded so far.

The indifference of half of the voters to the electoral process erodes the representative character of democratic polity. Fractured verdicts and fragmented polity are already undermining the representative character of our polity. The voter’s apathy further reinforces this ominous trend.

Unlike in the western democracies, in India, the upper strata of societies who are the chief beneficiaries of democracy are generally indifferent to elections, while the poor and the underprivileged that are yet to reap the benefits of freedom evince greater interest in polls. The apathy of the affluent often legitimises the demand for compulsory voting. But, one can be forced to vote. But none can force them to vote in a responsible manner.

The citizens have a fundamental duty to exercise their voting rights. Otherwise, universal suffrage has no meaning. However, the low voting is not just a result of lack of political consciousness among people; it also reflects the bankruptcy of our political system.

The people have no confidence that their vote can shape their destiny. The beauty of democracy is choice and plurality. But, the degeneration in political culture is depriving the voters of this choice. The unprecedented defections seriously undermine the credibility and legitimacy of our democratic political system.

The political parties are increasingly devoid of any ideological commitment. The leaders have become turncoats. The advent of television, information technology etc., has made electoral process, especially voting, transparent. The muscle power has been largely eliminated.

But, the money power is pervasive. The middle class and the upper classes are obviously disillusioned with the elections dictated by unprecedented flow of money. The legitimate vote is undermined as purchased vote determines the victory in many instances, though money alone cannot be a decisive factor always.

Besides, a host of facilitating measures can help improve the voting. Electoral roles are full of errors and distortions. Voters often complain of their names missing. Such a situation is highly unwarranted in the information age where technology can easily be pressed into service to correct the anomalies.

At a time when billions of dollars are transacted every day across continents, why not allow online voting? Of course, security systems should be put in place to avoid manipulation. Mobile polling booths can be introduced to take the voting process close to the voters. The Election Commission can provide free transport facilities for voters coming to exercise their franchise.

The measures taken so far by the election authorities have certainly helped in creating greater voter awareness. The civil society should also be a partner in strengthening the democratic fabric. The political culture can only be changed through active voters’ participation. The passive citizens do more harm to Indian democracy.

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