ELECTION OBSESSED INDIA

#VITARKKA: India has always been a country obsessed with Elections as it feeds into the speculative nature of Indians and the fanfare which ensues is a delight for all. To exercise their vote amongst other fringe benefits is an added attraction and hence the famous saying ‘The Dance of Democracy’! The 140 Crore country lives mostly in rural and underserved pockets and if CBDT’s recent tax stats put out is believable, then of this 140 Crore people, Over 130 Crore live below an income which is below the government prescribed taxable income. 

The whole country goes through some election or the other throughout the year. Once every 5 years there is the big boy Lok Sabha Elections which ushers in a new Prime Minister. 543 seats are up for grabs and money is spent lavishly to buy votes. After all this is really the big boy as the party which comes to power controls lakhs of crores of tax payers money to spend on defence, roads, ports, welfare schemes which are all profitable ventures. All guns come out and not just within the country but a lot of global vested interests participate whole heartedly to usher in their leader of choice. So, you now know that a massive population lives below taxable income radar. A majority of that on far lesser. So it’s obvious that the money which flows to families during these times is a bonus of sorts. (Anecdotal evidence suggests that each of these elections cost between 10-40 Crores per seat and at-least 2-3 candidates contest from competing parties spend this kind of money to go up against each other. Even at an average of 20 Crores a seat, it’s a Rs.10000-11000 Crores investment to become the next king/queen and for the masses its celebratory dole which they eagerly look forward to. Also, it’s like how India is obsessed with its film stars, likewise, they are obsessed with their local hero politicians whom they can meet and interact with personally. This populist mentality of Indians are subject matter of many psychologists who study it with interest and have written papers after papers upon. While deals are struck by leaders of all ranks to ensure the votes, it’s not just the gifts in the form of money and goods that pleases people but the never ending hope that the promises made to them will be upheld. For decades I’ve heard the same promises like Clean drinking water, better roads, continuous electricity, better crop prices, farmer loan waiver, education for their children and many such grand socialist schemes. Whilst native intelligence tells the people that these are election promises which are made for the votes, its the fanfare which gets them excited and the ability to meet the to-be minister, as once he does become a minister or a member of parliament, he/she are rarely accessible to the common man till the next election.

Then there’s the state legislative elections where 31 states elect over 4,120 Members of Legislative assembly and every year a few states go to elections. Again big money spinning shows costing similar amounts like the Lok Sabha Elections. Our NEWS channels cover these elections like a cricket match between India and Pakistan. Its minute by minute with so much adrenaline being pumped that the majority of the nation will remain glued with bated breath to know which party has won the election and whether their vote was what made the victory possible. Once the elections are done, the next few days are of conversation of the ‘MELA’ which just took place and then once that dies down, its back to the grind of worrying about water, or if the rains will be good, or if their crop will fetch a good price, or if some of the promises made will come true and of-course a never ending set of wonders if this or that would happen. Time for some strange reason will remain frozen till the next election.

So whilst these two blockbuster events take place, lets not forget the regional masterpieces like the Corporation elections, the panchayat elections and many such smaller shows which also cost money (10 lakhs to a crore per candidate) but not as much as the above mentioned blockbusters. 

Consider this. The idea of having elections at one go, whilst logistically challenging, may be a boon for the nation. The money which is spent is the tax-payers money which finds its way into all these shows. By having the Legislative Assembly elections at one go, the parties will not have all that cash available to pump into these elections. This may not be in the best interest of the larger more monied parties as this could give rise to popular local leaders who either are independent or  with a smaller local party and have lesser monetary resources unlike their giant rivals. 

The positive outcome however, is that the country can focus on more critical initiatives to compete with the likes of China who are Industry obsessed and with all the money China makes, they are buying into many smaller countries for strategic purposes. India too, not only can reduce its Current Account Deficit but make the country more self sufficient and happier as the attention will be off elections and more on governance and proper implementation of key projects for the long term larger good of its ever growing populace.

Raj Kaushik – Vitarkka

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