Elections: To be or not to be fair, that is the question

The noise around electoral reforms has risen to a crescendo. While the ruling coalition is bent on bringing in reforms like Electronic Voting Machines to strengthen democracy, the opposition fears that it would give further impetus to rigging. Let us suppose for a moment that our election process is completely free and fair. Is that a panacea for all the ills that impair democracy? Certainly not!

Socrates argued that the world’s conception of democracy is totally flawed. He propounded a new concept called ‘intellectual democracy’. While the former grants the right to voting to every eligible citizen, the latter caters to only the skilled pool of the population. With ‘skilled’, Socrates meant educated bevy of people who are cognizant of the government structure and functioning of a nation, who are aware of the tenets of democracy, and who can analyse and astutely resolve problems. Do we fit this explanation? Regrettably, many of our denizens have no idea what a vote of no-confidence is, what external debt is, or what lies under the jurisdiction of the local governments. Many of our ministers also have shallow expertise in the fields they are designated. Is it judicious to allow these people to decide who should rule the nation? Certainly not!

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Socrates argued only the skilled chunk would vote for the right person. With almost 40% of our voters being illiterate, and a regressive and extremist mindset ruling the roost, the selection of an able leader by them is unlikely. Before dreaming of democracy, the officialdom, the civil society, the media, and all voters should ask themselves one question: do we really know what our country is going through and who will take it out of the chaos?

Ashraf Ahmed

Hyderabad

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