The Great Indian Election

Over 700 million voters – more than the total population of the US and more than the combined population of France, UK, Germany and Holland (so I’ve read). Probably 60%  will cast their vote.  All the booths have Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), this sounds simple. Yet it is mind boggling, not just because of sheer numbers. Some booths are located in the boondocks. Officials can reach them only on foot or on mule and horse back.  The EVM – similar to a vertical key board in shape – has to cater to a large section of illiterate voters. Each candidate’s picture, his party symbol and name have to be reflected. I heard that they were also braille friendly, though I’m not sure they were. The number of candidates was also mind boggling. The choice was between 36 worthies in my constituency. This meant three EVMs on display.

There was also the problem of  choosing a candidate. The process finally become one of selecting the lesser evil.  Recall Harb’s thesis on choosing the correct person. Uunfortunately what does one do when there is no right choice/person?  Till last night I was undecided and we had a sort of family conclave to sort out our minds.

The voters too come in all shapes and sizes. From the youthful, bouncy, energetic first timers to the old ancients, equally enthusiastic, some even being carried into the booth in the arms and shoulders  of their family.

Thanks to the ‘international migraine’  infecting our neighbourhood,    terrorism is the biggest concern. Forces  have to be shifted from area to area. The voting process is spread over almost 45 days and  is being conducted in three phases. To-day was the second one. The final results will be out only in mid – May.

Yet at the end of the day one feels dwarfed by the enormity of this whole exercise and I certainly feel a part of  the process.   One little speck out of 700 million others. Yet, I had a voice, if only for a few minutes.

That is the bottom line



About Dara

Just me. Love golf, political history and meeting new people, even though I am not great at social conversation. "If you have nothing to say it is better to let people think you're stupid rather than open your mouth and remove all doubts." (someone said that) :)

12 thoughts on “The Great Indian Election

  1. ed says:

    In the face of all that, Dara, I can only offer a prayer.
    Many are tuning their hearts to Earth’s salvation. It might just work.


  2. Bonnie says:

    Hi Dara
    Glad you were able to participate in the process.
    From what I understand, there are so many candidates,
    it will be difficult to get any kind of majority for
    any of the parties.
    Good luck to this all going smoothly.
    Hope you are over the flu.


    • Dara says:

      Dear Bonnie,

      Talking of the number of candidates, the real problem is that out of so many there are so few you could bank on. It was really choosing between the pot and the kettle.Somehow this time it seemed even more so. No one is discussing issues or giving out their programs. All just say give us a chance and one feels like asking ‘how many more?’

      Now two days later I am disappointed with the number of voters. We are a very urban locality, only 40% voted. This is sad. People keep saying but whom do we vote for? That is a problem, but by not voting, I think one takes oneself out of the equation altogether. Are we just going to then spend the next 5 years sitting in our drawing rooms and being arm chair critics? Thats being a hypocrite.

      You’re right there will be no clear majority for anyone. Its the coalition which may come up which is giving us the jitters. The possibilities are mind boggling and the field is full of two bit parochial, regional players who can call the shots over the next few years.


      ps. thanks, the flu and I parted on amicable terms 🙂

  3. heath says:

    Dear Dara

    The process seems to be a marvel of thoughtful organization. Thank you for sharing an inside look, from a voter’s point of view.

    I’m glad you’re feeling better. Having the flu is no fun, and when the temperatures outside are hot, it can be even more uncomfortable.

    love, h

    • Dara says:

      We have what an election commission. If there is any praise these days, it is all for them. Organising something like this is stupendous. Even though the turn out was low, I was still surprised that my wife and I were in and out of there in under 5 minutes. Never been so well organised. And this is everyone’s experience.


      • heath says:

        I’m wondering if the very diversity of candidates, and therefore of those who are elected and will comprise the final coalition, isn’t one of the greatest strengths of your political system. By this I mean that this diversity brings along with it maddening inefficiencies, logistical leakages, which in fact make the system more equitable, and malleable, as time goes by. More humanistic. Less perfect, but healthier in the long term for that very reason.

        love, h

  4. derek says:

    I have goosebumps, Dara. I have long believed in a moment when all the world will share a moment. The systems are being built to accommodate such a moment. This vote is a big step. I can imagine world voting.

    I will be very interested to know how your voting experience plays out. Thank you for sharing it so far. It may be confusing at first because it’s new but I am hopeful for it’s future. It allows more voices to be heard. The days of the power elite are closing and the dawn of the people’s power is breaking. Oh the glow of the first rays of light in the morning.


    • Dara says:

      Thanks Derek, I just hope that I made the bugs’ immune system weaker after they messed with me!

      I think Ive voted in every election over the last 20 years or so and I have always felt a thrill. Even though I have been disappointed most of the time. Yet, every time I press the buzzer with a hope and a prayer that this time it will work out better than the last.


  5. derek says:

    Oh and tell those flu bugs thank you for making your immune system a little stronger.


  6. Dara says:

    Dear Heath,

    You have touched on something very interesting and on which most people have very strong views and so rational discussion seldom takes place.

    My personal opinion was similar to yours. When coalitions first became the order here, I thought that they provided automatic balances and had a moderating influence.

    However, the down side of this became apparent in the last two governemnts. They were saddled with a lot of regional players whose numbers were miniscule, but they were enough to topple the govt. at will. Most of them had a very narrow view, restricted to their own area and the national scene was really no concern of theirs. The result was that no hard decisions, and sometimes even sensible ones were simply ditched because they tread on the toes of these bit players. They became spoilers not moderators. Their power was far in excess of their numbers. They did not hesitate to use it to shackle the govt. and threaten to quit at every step.

    In the last year or so, this government really became a ‘do nothing’ government. No matter what they tried to do there was a veto. Specially in these times, one needs a government to move fast and decisively without having to consult 15 other parties. The result is that everything needs to be considered by a committee, which then passes the buck to sub-committees. By the time some action is recommended, people have forgotten why it was set up in the first place.

    It boils down to political maturity and sadly we are on the first rung at the moment.

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