With the Delhi Assembly Elections today, we take a look at elections from an economic point of view, focusing on the money spent by candidates on political campaigning.

“For fifty years, we have been trained to believe that elections are a matter of life and death,” sternly opined Asaduddin Owaisi, a veteran Lok Sabha Legislator, in an informal interview with ScoopWhoop Unscripted, a month before the National Elections last year.

Though Mr Owaisi might have taken a few hyperbolic liberties while making this particular statement, one cannot deny the fact that elections are extremely significant moments in time in the history of any democracy, impacting the Nationwide dynamic and Government policies for the next few years, as well as fulfilling the political aspirations of successful candidates, and collapsing those of unsuccessful ones.

Every election sees the birth of a future leader or the rise of an existing one. Once in a while, more so in recent years, it also sees the fall of a stalwart. With such a prominent amount of reputation and power at stake, candidates standing in elections leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the majority of voters press their symbol on the ballot, spending enormous amounts of time and funds on election campaigning.

India’s Lok Sabha Elections in 2019 were deemed to be one of the world’s most expensive elections with an estimate of over INR 50,000 crores spent on electoral campaigning by parties and candidates across the Country. According to a study by the Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies (CMS), India’s election expenditure has risen six times since 1998, with the majority of the amount being spent on publicity campaigns. Costs include money spent on roadshows, billboard advertisements, television advertisements, social media campaigns, constituency tours, rallies, and music videos to name a few.

In fact, in the run-up to the 2020 Delhi Assembly Elections, the AAP Government introduced numerous freebies in the form of subsidies in electricity charges, free bus rides for women and removal of development fees for new water connections. The opposition leaders in the State questioned the economic viability of these recent freebies.

Besides these costs, parties also resort to illegitimate means of attracting votes, with reports of candidates distributing cash, clothes, land, smartphones and sometimes even alcohol to voters. The CMS study reports that around INR 15,000 crores in cash were distributed among voters in the 2019 National Elections.

This leads us to one question. Is all the money worth it?

It is no rocket science that, what matters is the appeal and reputation of the candidate, not the amount of money spent by the candidate and that on an average, a candidate with a favourable image shall garner a significant amount of votes regardless of the money spent by him/her.

The answer to this question exists in contrast. While the kindness of the world would have us believe that money does not matter, yet experience says otherwise.

Out of the humongous INR 50,000 crores spent in the Lok Sabha Elections last year, almost half of the costs were incurred by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who won by a comprehensive margin. But would a less expensive campaign have given them a less favourable result? We shall not know as long as there is not a detailed analysis of Indian elections and voting practices. But what we know is that as long as the voters of this country do not fall prey to political gimmicks and publicity campaigns, and instead decide to press a particular symbol on a ballot based on a thorough review of the candidate’s performance in the last five years, the essence of democracy and integrity shall remain intact.

Delhi Assembly Elections 2020, will be a test of heavy campaigning versus ideology. It will also answer many questions regarding the future discourse of Delhi and the political discourse of the Country. The current Chief Minister (CM), Arvind Kejriwal, won a ravishing majority in the past elections despite heavy campaigning by BJP. However, a new wave of social media campaigning, tremendous on- ground marketing had engulfed the Lok Sabha Elections. This wave might drown the Delhi Elections as well.

Feature Image Credits: The Statesman

Araba Kongbam

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The Right to Vote is imperative, but exercising the same is not easy, given the technicalities associated with it. This piece brings you the procedure, of how an outstation student can exercise their Right to Vote in the Capital, where they study.

On 11th January, the last date for registering as a voter in Delhi, the students of St. Stephen’s College organized a drive to aid the outstation students in including their names in the electoral list, this piece is in respect to the drive, formulated a guide for outstation students to vote in Delhi.

1. You can cast your vote once you have a voter ID card and your name enrolled in the electoral roll. In case you do not have a voter ID card, register on the national voter’s service portal (www.nvsp.in).

2. For an outstation student, Form 6 (which is available on the National Voters’ Service Petrol (NSVP) website) needs to be filled online.

3. The most important part is the address proof, which depends on the student’s place of residence. For students residing in college hostels, Annexure IV needs to be scanned and uploaded. The Annexure IV is a declaration for students living in hostels, which is to be ratified by the Dean or the Principal, depending upon

the type of institution. For students living elsewhere, a copy of rental agreement passes muster.

4. The documents involved in the process are imperative as well. An Aadhar card or any equivalent document is required to ascertain the age of the applicant. The address of a student is important as well, and Annexure IV or rental agreement are the two ways to go about it.

5. After registering your name, address, proof of age and residence, you will be given an application number. A text message on the contact number provided by you will confirm the registration.

6. On the day of voting, go to the nearest polling booth of your constituency. The voting time is usually from 7 am to 5 pm.

7. Once inside the booth, a polling officer will check if your name is present in the list and verify your details with your votercard.

8. You will be inked by another polling booth officer and handed a slip. Then you will be asked to sign against your name in a register, which is the Form 17A.

9. A third officer will check if you have been inked on either of your index fingers. He or she will then forward you towards the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

10. Once you stand across the EVM, you will find buttons against candidates and the party that they represent, listed. NOTA or none of the above will also be one of the options available.

Evita Rodrigues, one of the organisers of the drive at St. Stephen’s College said, “Sometimes it’s easy to underestimate the value of single registration and thereby a single vote. The entire process of and the effort it entails can often be discouraging. We were able to help nearly a hundred students fill the online form on extremely short notices and help around thirty non-teaching staff apply fresh or for corrections in existing cards.”

But why is this important at all? The answer lies in the policies created by the

Delhi Government. These students, like others, must have the power to elect a government that shall frame policies for their betterment. It is important for every student to exercise their political rights, which benefits both the students and the state.

In a state like Delhi, where the students are a major stakeholder, it is important to aid them in exercising their political rights. Students across Delhi and elsewhere should make endeavours to do what Evita and others did in St. Stephen’s College. Students, therefore, have the onus of extending political rights among themselves, as well as others in our society.

Feature Image Credits: Evita Rodrigues

Kuber Bathla

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Democracy is often hailed as the ‘perfect’ government system. However, in a political system which rests heavily on its questioning nature, it is rather rare that we see questions being put up on the democratic system itself. However, this was not the case with Socrates, what was his criticisms? Read ahead to find out.

Ancient Greece is hailed for two of its prime contribution to the humankind, on being the system of Democracy and the other being Greek Philosophy. While Socrates is regarded as the father of Greek Philosophy, he did not have the same regard towards his civilisation’s other great social invention, Democracy. His problems with democracy are stated in Plato’s ‘Republic of Plato’.

Plato regarded Socrates as a pessimistic person and hence in Book Six of ‘Republic of Plato’. Plato describes Socrates falling in a conversation with an imaginary character, Adiemantus, trying to get him to see the fallacies of democracy. If you were heading out on a journey by sea, asks Socrates, who would you ideally want deciding who was in charge of the vessel? Just anyone or people educated in the rules and demands of seafaring? The latter of course, says Adeimantus, so why then, responds Socrates, do we keep thinking that any old person should be fit to judge who should be a ruler of a country? Thereby Socrates emphasises on the fact that voting is a skill and not an intuition.

He further states that citizens should be taught the ‘art of voting’. According to him, letting citizens vote without any teaching is as catastrophic as letting random people in charge of a ship heading straight into a storm. Another example, given by Socrates, is that of two contesting candidates. wherein one was a doctor while the other was a sweet shop owner. The sweet shop owner in his arguments accuses that the doctor is evil, he gives everyone bitter potions and refrains people from eating everything. While the sweet shop owner himself, says, that he on the contrary never stops anyone from eating anything and moreover gives people delicious sweets. It is not difficult to think that the doctor can’t defeat the sweet shop owner with just the argument that whatever he does is for the benefit of the people itself. And therefore, we see so many sweet shop owners and not doctors in parliaments all over the world.

Socrates never attacked on the ideals of democracy, however, he had problems with the system which we today know as Universal Adult Franchise. Moreover, Socrates advocated for the democracy which we today know as ‘intellectual’ democracy rather than democracy ‘by birth’. He warned us that this indiscriminate granting of voting rights to people without proper education would lead to Demagoguery or the practice to getting votes by appealing to the desires and prejudices of the voters rather than using rational arguments. We can clearly see today, as to why Socrates was concerned for democracy.

Taking the example of India itself, we as voters have been swayed by political parties for a long time by issues that only appealed to our prejudices and not to our needs. Be it reservation or agricultural loan waivers, political parties often use these issues to gain votes. On the other hand, the public also has become so familiar with this form of appeasement that elections are used as pressure points on various parties by the people wanting to get their job done.

Moreover, the voters also vote for leaders who provide short term lucrative solutions rather than the ones who implement long term measures. It is this political illiteracy because of which our parliament houses a total 43% Ministers of Parliament (MPs) with a criminal background. Be it the Indian National Congress MP from Idukki, Dean Kuriakose who has over 204 criminal charges like homicide, robbery, etc. or Bhartiya Janata Party’s MP Pragya Singh Thakur who is the prime suspect of Malegaon Serial Blasts or Bahujan Samaj Party’s MP Atul Singh who has charges of murder on him.

Faizan Salik, a student of Jamia Milia Islamia, said, “In my opinion, teaching fundamental rights and duties of Liberal Democracy at primary level doesn’t help, as most just study it for the sake of studying they fail to understand things, which is really problematic, teaching of essential politics is as essential as basic banking, else wise things can go in dungeon”.

An alumna of Delhi University, Mrinalika Chauhan, said, “We as voters have to understand that it is not in our favour to vote for leaders who aren’t rational enough. Yes, it will take time but we have start at the grassroots level. Each and every person in India is interested in politics, whatever their leaning maybe. What needs to be changed is that people vote based on their understanding of politics, instead of sticking to their traditional party.”

The question which arises is that whether we can change this setting or not? And here also it is Socrates’s thoughts which can help us, “Struggle is like a steep hill which looks just impossible to scale at once but when you reach the top, you don’t think about the climb but the triumph.”
Featured Image Credits: Flickr
Aniket Singh Chauhan [email protected] 


On 5th September, 2019, DU Beat conducted an interview with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s (ABVP) Vice Presidential candidate, Pradeep Tanwar to know him and his perspective regarding the upcoming Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections.

Pradeep Tanwar, is a graduate in B.A. Programme from P.G.D.A.V College. He’s currently pursuing his masters in Hindi from Deshbandhu College. He has been a part of ABVP since 2015, and believes his true interest lies in politics and solving students’ problems.

What are the main issues you and your party will focus on for DUSU 2019? 

The main issues we will focus on are:

  1. Metro concession pass: it’s unfair to ask a student who comes from a middle-class family to spend so much on travelling. Our biggest fight is for metro concession passes.
  2. Hostels in South Campus: Except Venky (Sri Venkateswara College), there aren’t a lot of colleges that have hostels in south campus. We will work to establish these hostels.

To the common student, DUSU feels like an unapproachable political entity, what will you and your party do to ensure accountability to the students of University of Delhi?

I, along with other ABVP members, have went to each college to personally listen to the problems of students and solve them. Students get help from ABVP from the time they get their admission done to the date of their farewell. I will personally organise campaigns in each college to listen to students.

The incidents on Old Gupta Road and Hindu Rao Hospital highlight security concerns for those living in North Campus, what steps will you take to ensure safety and security on campus?

Of course, we’re working towards making campus safer. We’ve made a committee to look into this, and asses the cases to make campus student-friendly.

Campaigning every year uses up a tremendous amount of paper for pamphlets, posters etc., which then leads to litter on campus, what is your say on the matter?

These are how elections take place, it has become a method by all parties. ABVP doesn’t do littering as we’re always fighting for a clean campus.

University of Delhi (DU) was recently declared an Institute of Eminence by the Union Government which entitles DU to a payment of a 1000 crores over 5 years, however,  the trend in 2019 in DU has been of increasing fees and hostel rates, why do you think this is so? And what will your party do to reduce fee hikes and hostel rates?

It’s the staff and other people involved who are using this money for their own benefits. We’re working constantly towards fighting fee hikes. We protest or petition, but we always get success for students. Deshbandhu College had raised its fees, we had protested there with the students.

The Lyngdoh Committee lays down 5000 rupees as the maximum expenditure amount, how does your party maintain it?

We always manage our campaigning under the budget. We follow all rules of the committee. ABVP works all year round so we don’t require high campaigning.

Which element differentiates you from the other contenders for the post of Vice President?

What differentiates me, is my affiliation to ABVP. Students will vote for me as ABVP is the only party that works year-round for the students on a ground level, unlike other parties.

Last year, there were allegations of EVM tampering against ABVP, also to be noted, the EVM’s were privately supplied and not by the Election Commissions, how do you plan to make sure elections are held fairly?

You ask this question to us on every meeting. I would like to inform that ABVP follows the rules of Lyngdoh committee very well. At this point, all other parties are non-existent and then they use these dirty tactics making politics intimidating for all.


ABVP Panel

President: Akshit Dahiya, Ballot No.1

Vice President: Pradeep Tanwar, Ballot No. 5

Secretary: Yogit Rathi, Ballot No. 3

Joint Secretary: Shivangi Kharwal, Ballot No. 4

Feature Image Credits : ABVP

Chhavi Bahmba

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The dominant response of the urban college-goers on social media to the BJP’s victory in the 2019 elections has been to cry foul at the electorate that voted for the party. It is not just incorrect but also lazy.


Disclaimer: I did not vote for the BJP. I have had heated discussions with BJP supporters trying to prove to them why I don’t concur with their views and why, in my opinion, the Modi-led government did not do a job good enough in its first term to deserve a re-election. I used to be a supporter initially but things changed.

Regardless, the typical response of the urban college-going students – who would mostly identify themselves as perhaps being more on the liberal and the non-right side – to the election results on social media was almost a uniform rebuke of anyone who voted for the BJP, accompanied by cries of fascism and predictions suggesting virtually the end of democracy.

Among the many social media posts, some called shame on the voters for electing this government back. Others showed images of Mohammed Naeem moments before being violently lynched to death, of Mohammed Akhlaq, Gauri Lankesh and others and were shared as Instagram stories with captions urging voters to remember them before they voted.  It is true that the multiple lynchings and killings of dissenting voices by groups sharing ideologies similar to the ruling party or those affiliated to some of its members, and the silence of the dispensation over such acts can be reason enough for someone to not vote back a government – this was one of my reasons, at least.

However, to say that these can be the only metrics of judging whether the government should be voted for or not is quite dogmatic. To say that those who voted for the BJP did not vote for ‘development’ but ‘hatred and bigotry’, even if the voters themselves say that the former was the determinant, does not just imply that only one kind of electoral preference – one that is anti-BJP – should exist but also denies the agency to the voters to make their electoral decisions themselves by condemning those choices. It’s also highly patronising and arrogant to tell someone that you couldn’t have voted because of X reason because I’m telling you that you voted for Y. Who are we with our high-handed privilege to tell people what is right for them?

There can be tons of reasons as to why people might have voted for Mr Modi’s party. As writer Mahmood Farooqui argued in an article published on The Wire, “Many voted for him (Modi) despite acknowledging his policy failures. Some voted for him because he could defend the country, some because he had made the country proud internationally, some because he worked very hard and they saw him as honest, and some because there was nobody else on the horizon. Many people voted for a leader who they genuinely believed was doing good for the country and would continue to do good. They voted for a leader who they believed deserved another chance.”

Or as NDTV‘s Aunindyo Chakravarty wrote in his blog, “The Modi government might have failed in the…various type of ‘measures’ through which modern nations gauge their government’s performance – GDP, industrial output, profit growth, employment, and similar ‘data’ that states produce. It has, however, been extremely successful in creating ‘touch-points’ between the government and the poor.

“Swachh Bharat, PMAY (Awas Yojana), Ujjwala, Jan Dhan, Ayushman Bharat, Mudra, PM Kisan, are all such touch-points, that aid the operation of ‘governmentality’.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean some people didn’t vote for the BJP precisely because of the bigotry and divisiveness, as shown by journalist Supriya Sharma’s piece on Scroll.in. Yet, I would argue that a greater portion of people voted because of many other reasons – governmental schemes, choosing stability over a weak and fragmented opposition, popularity of Mr Modi and other such considerations. After a single term, the anti-incumbency factor isn’t that high either and people might often be willing to give the government another chance.

Hence, the “fascist, communal, bigot” arguments are quite incorrect. But they’re more than that – they’re also lazy.

Apart from the clichés of how it is very easy to sit in our air conditioned rooms and condemn people’s preferences, there are also the dangers of ideology. Living in a box is easy but also dangerous for it blinds people in their ideological echo chambers. The left using labels of “fascist”, “hyper-nationalist”, “communal” for right-wingers is basically the same as the right attaching derogatory connotations to “liberal”, “secular” or “communist” or using labels of “anti-national”.

Both are different ways of using the same tactic of attaching labels to opponents while ignoring nuance all along the way. This thumbnail point of view never allows for nuanced understanding or debate because most people, irrespective of their ideological leanings, don’t accept the fact that they might be wrong. This lazy argument of limiting the other’s perspective to a couple of fancy words remains meaningless to some and incomprehensible jargon to others. Ultimately, the root of the issue isn’t tackled and evils of communalism and bigotry are allowed to get away. In any case, when has Insta-activism ever solved a problem?

I’m not trying to do armchair political analysis and fall into the irony of critiquing armchair activists at the same time, which is why I’ve quoted from people much more experienced in this domain. Instead, I’ve tried to have a non-thumbnail, non-lazy argument with people like me who I think are missing the point.


Image credits – The Hindu


Prateek Pankaj

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The youth forming a dominant share of votes, is a major vote bank for the political parties. Despite this, the representation of youth in the Lok Sabha is a concern in our country.

India is a young country with a median age of 27.9 years. By 2020, youth will make up 34% of the country’s population. 45 million young people, having become eligible to vote as they turned 18, have been added to India’s electoral roll since 2014, according to 2018 data from the Election Commission of India. This has expanded the voter list by 5% since 2014.Thus, the youth forming a dominant share of the vote bank, certainly forms an important determining factor of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The irony here is the pride that India takes in being a young country but has the least representation and an ageist prejudice towards the representation of youth in the political arena. Only 2.2% of the members of Lok Sabha are below the age of 30. The gerontocracy problem of Indian political system makes politics inaccessible to the youth with their issues and representation not being addressed. Though we are set to exercise our vote on 12th May 2019,  670 million young Indians including many first time voters don’t have a fair representation of the youth demographic through young candidates fighting for Lok Sabha elections.

Ignorant, immature, impulsive, carefree are some of the adjectives associated with the youth in India. It is believed that youth can’t understand politics and stand for the issues of their community therefore, the age of candidacy to fight for the elections being 25.The youth with their strong will to be the change makers in their community find it difficult to navigate their way forward in the ageist prejudice existing in the Indian Political system. To solve the fundamental social evils of the society politics should be taken as a serious tool to bring about change and not just post retirement plan of people. Mobilization of the youth and their increased representation in the Lok Sabha will surely act as a lubricant for social change.

While we cast our vote on the 12th May, we need to be prudent while choosing our leader and take a step towards solving the gerontocracy problem of India.

Feature Image Credits: India Today


Sriya Rane

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The ABVP-led DUSU has formally requested the DU Vice Chancellor to not conduct the semester examinations a day prior and after, and on the day of the General Elections.

For the upcoming Lok Sabha elections of 2019, which will be coinciding with the April-May semester exams, the ABVP-led Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) has requested the Vice Chancellor of the University of Delhi, Professor Yogesh Tyagi, to not hold the semester examinations on the same day as that of the elections. They also demanded that the exams should neither be held a day prior, nor a day later than the actual date of casting votes, so as to ensure that the students from other states can exercise their right to vote as well. The external exams, along with the internal assessments, and practicals willl begin from April and are expected to continue till the first week of June.

In a separate letter addressed to the Chief Election Officer (CEO), Mr. Sunil Arora, DUSU requested him to arrange special railway services for the students of major Indian cities for their convenient travel, and to also make the tickets available at compensated rates. They also requested him to issue a directive in the form of an advisory to all the educational institutions in the country, urging them to not conduct the end-semester examinations during the ongoing General Elections.

“As students, a lot of us would be casting our first votes, as citizens of India we really look forward to it. A holiday prior the election and post it, would allow us to act our electoral choices,” says a second-year student of Kamla Nehru College.

These demands were raised, keeping in mind the fundamental right of the youth to vote, and the demand for the special railway services ensures that students from other states can also cast their votes in their respective constituencies. DUSU further appealed to the students to consciously exercise their fundamental right to vote in the upcoming elections.

However, some students have their doubts about this move as well and it, as articulated by another second-year student, “All the services are only available for the major Indian cities. I wouldn’t be able to go back anyway as I come from the remote town of Balangir in Orissa, it is a hectic two-day journey by train.”

The President of DUSU, Shakti Singh, stated in a press release, “The need of the hour is a strengthened democracy which can only be achieved by facilitating the maximum participation of the youths. We shall make every possible endeavour to effectively utilize our resources to meet these ends. We hope to see considerable growth in vote share in these elections.”

Saimon Farooqui, the all-India media and communications manager of NSUI, said, “A certain well thought-out mechanism needs to be established as voting is a layered process and students come from various parts of the country. They should also ensure that studies are not compromised in any way. It is the responsibility of the University of Delhi to ensure that voting process is smooth for students and they are able to exercise their right to vote.”

Image Credits: DU Beat

Antriksha Pathania

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This article talks about the political environment and our stake in it.

The 2019 elections are one of the most anticipated and crucial elections for our country. The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power by making use of the failures of Indian National Congress (INC), and by using the ‘Modi wave’ to raise hopes of growth in a developing country like India. But in its term, the BJP has also hit several lows. As students, the important question to ask remains- what is the position of the youth in such a political scenario?

This will be the first-time some students presently in college will get to vote. With the current political environment and the youth comprising a huge part of our population, of which college students form an important part, it becomes essential for us to become aware of the power we hold. We must make efforts to learn what have been the promises made and the promises kept, to be able to critique the wrong-doings, and to learn from our decisions. The tag of ‘millennials’ stands for several values but it also includes the idea of being liberal, taking one’s own decisions, standing for justice and rights, and challenging the prevalent archaic thinking.  But if we do not act upon these values, they simply remain tokenistic.

Indian polity works more on leaders and the image they create; this election Modi becomes our most obvious contender. With this, the focus should not just be on the achievements of this government but also on the big blunders such as Demonetization and the questionable Rafale deal. The latter is seen to be becoming a rallying point for the INC, but scams on both sides, as it tries to suggest, should not be a metric for Congress to win the elections rather than re-analyse the party’s own policies.  While it has recaptured important states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh, a pattern of elections we should break is winning on the blunders of the most popular party. Mistakes by others does not guarantee no mistakes of our own.

Furthermore, unfortunately, what also wins elections is the culture of cult figures. It is for us to decide to not get swayed by charismatic and powerful speeches by any party leader, to try to remove these biases, and to look beyond these to see where “achhe din” truly lie.

In these elections, the regional parties play a major role as well, and can prove to be tough competition to these national parties. It therefore becomes pertinent to not lose sight of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP), Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TNC), CPI, CPM, Aam Aadmi Party, PDP, JDU, DMK, Asom Gana Parishad among several others.

These past few months, several important judgements have been passed, with regards to the Section 377, Adultery and Aadhar, which have been in sync with the public sentiment and speak volumes about how the Indian society is ready to move forward. We need to no longer restrict our influence on the sidelines but take the center stage. With this, hopefully, at the end of the next term, the scenario will no longer remain in a turmoil.

Image Credits: DU Beat

Shivani Dadhwal

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The elections are here and it’s time to vote! But the representatives we choose should be educated or not? Is it an elitist, exclusionary view to believe that our leaders should be qualified/conventionally educated?

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections are around the corner and young adults who’ve entered universities and colleges are going to vote for the first time. It’s exciting when you think about it and a little scary too. You’re now an adult who can take decisions for the country, to choose representatives that talk and discuss your ideas and interests in public spaces, who don’t make false promises, who actually work to lead the society towards the growth, upliftment and development. But time and again, debate has arisen around the issue whether the people who choose to stand for elections should possess basic minimum educational qualifications or not.

Let’s talk about why this view is incorrect. Education is a privilege in a country like India. It’s regressive to bar a bunch of people from contesting elections because they aren’t privileged enough to qualify. Educational restrictions are basically code for class, caste & gender exclusions. Women and Dalits were worst affected by it.

There is no evidence to demonstrate that people with a formal education can do a better job as elected representatives than those without. For example- Meena Behen, the first woman sarpanch from a village in Gujarat, in the district Vyara, heads an all-women panchayat board. In a patriarchal society, where women were never allowed outside their houses, not even allowed to talk in front of men, Meena dared to bring about change and succeeded. Gaining confidence and leadership skills while running a self-help group (helped by World Vision India), Meena worked hard to empower the women of her village while improving basic infrastructure like roads, hospitals and schools.

Formal education has no necessary connection with the qualities required for good and competent political and administrative leadership. We live in a democracy, and at the heart of our democracy is the concept of representation: voters decide who will best represent their interests, and elect them to legislative bodies accordingly. Therefore, when you say that formally uneducated should be barred from contesting elections, what you’re effectively saying is that you don’t trust the voters to decide who will best represent their interests.

Now, you may argue that there is a distinction between the right to vote and the right to stand for election, and that nobody is taking away the right to vote. However, they’re the two sides of the same coin. If you erect entry barriers to contesting, you are effectively curtailing i.e. the right to vote, by selecting the pool of people from whom the voters can decide. It is a restriction on voting, just that it’s done indirectly. Such laws are discriminatory. They discriminate on lines of gender and caste, because those who have been deprived of access/opportunities to education are inevitably the most vulnerable members of society

It’s not the peoples’ fault that they were unable to get a formal education. Deprivation is function of social discrimination, not individual character flaws. It has no tangible effect on the quality of decision-making, it is counter to the fundamental logic of democracy, and that it is discriminatory.

Do not forget that there is a long history of denying, curtailing and interfering with the democratic process because the people in power believe that other people are incapable of using the vote in a “fitting manner.” This was the logic of the British regime that imposed property qualifications on the vote, tried to impose a “wifehood” qualification, and all kinds of restrictions. When our Constitution was being framed, some of the members of the Assembly wanted to restrict the franchise, because they feared giving it to a vast number of “illiterate Indians.” Fortunately, they were overruled, and a great leap of faith was taken. This leap of faith was to transform India into a full-blooded democracy, and not a hollow shell of a democracy. This means that, at the end of the day, as a democracy we should respect the autonomy and decision-making capacity of the voter.


Image Credits: The Better India

Disha Saxena

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(With inputs from The Better India)


As we move closer and closer to the impending elections that will shape the nation, DU Beat brings to you a guide to tell you how it feels to vote for the first time.

As the nation settles in to this new year, we are also slowly and slowly edging closer to our first opportunity to exercise a right that will change our future as a country. The right to vote in the country’s election and choose who will lead us for the next 5 years. For almost all of us currently in DU this would be the first election of this scale in which we will serve an active role. We are pat of the huge 1.8cr new voters that will vote for the first time.
First, we need to make sure that we have registered to vote the steps and requirements for the same are as follows:
1. Are an Indian citizen
2. Have attained the age of 18yrs on the qualifying date i.e. 1st of January of the year of revision of the electoral roll.
3. Are ordinarily a resident of the part/ polling area of the constituency where you want to be enrolled.
4. Are not disqualified to be enrolled as an elector

As responsible citizens that have been the right of having an equal say it is important to use this vote as to make sure that the ideas we believe in are thoroughly represented, it has been seen that we as a generation have taken it to protests to show any howsoever incompetence the system that we are part of right now and as such we should now in this deciding point believe and support what we think is a better alternative, no matter who we support as a party, every vote that we choose to forfeit is one voice left unheard and one step missed to a change. Things are going to become turbulent with parties trying to seduce votes out specially from the younger generation, this time it is our generation’s future in particular that will be in doubt so we should vote right and vote surely.

“Upcoming Lok Sabha are an opportunity for the first time voters to take responsibility of the nation on our shoulders” – as the PM said in his Mann Ki Baat tweets. It is the time for us to make our thoughts of change into actions.

Feature Image Credits- Hindustan Times

Haris Khan
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