“The elections are the greatest symbol of participation and political reform”
-Mohammad Khatami (former president of Iran)
An election is a process by which the citizens of a democratic nation, irrespective of their caste and creed, decide who should take decisions on behalf of them. These have been the common mechanism for the functioning of representative democracies since the seventeenth century. The elections could be either direct elections or indirect elections. In direct elections, people could directly take part in the election process, whereas in indirect elections one individual is entitled to vote on behalf of a representative group. India being the largest democracy in the world considers elections as the “festivals of democracy” in which we celebrate the powers of common man.
In India elections held once in five years normally. Representatives are elected on the basis of universal adult franchise. As per the conditions laid down by the makers of Indian constitution any citizen who has attained the age of 18 could cast their vote irrespective of their religion, economic and social status. Similarly, Indian constitution also enables any citizen to contest in elections without any discrimination. In order to monitor the equal participation in elections the constitution has also setup an independent body named “election commission”. Thus, elections in India are an inclusive process where common man is pivotal point.
Indian democracy is the one in which all voters are considered equal thus, the contestants in elections are forced to treat each and every voter of his constituency with same importance at least at the time of elections. The truth is that, it is only during elections that the politicians will listen to the demands of common man. The elections instill a special power in the common man, who constitute a major portion of the society. Even the richest contestant is at the mercy of common man at times of election. It provides each and every individual an opportunity to shape the future of their nation regardless of their socio- economic conditions. Elections are the easiest way in which a citizen can express their discontent towards an existing government. Apart from this electoral system also lay down certain provisions by which common man could contest in elections and thereby contribute towards nation building directly. But many citizens are still unaware of this immense power.
The voting percentages of elections make it evident that people are still reluctant towards casting their vote. Despite of providing holidays and several other measures to encourage people to vote, many people are not ready to play their role in nation building. Low literacy rates, apathy, unprincipled politics, lack of concrete effort on the part of the political parties in motivating the voters and local conditions in some part of the country can also be sited as the reason for lower public participation in elections. The corrupt, divisive, dishonest and exploitative practices might have decreased the confidence of people in this process. Increase in the use of money power, reliance on money power during elections, inciting communal and caste prejudice in the voters and the misuse of official machinery have shaken the foundations of the electoral process. The only remedy in these circumstances lies in bringing about systematic changes in the polity and elections.
As John f Kennedy rightly quoted, “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all”. It is necessary to make the voters aware of their rights and duties. The voters should be encouraged to cast their votes in an informed manner. The political system should take efforts to educate voters and bring back the trust in democratic system. The children should be taught about the need and worth of elections from a younger age. Above all, people should develop a feeling of obligation towards voting and should keep in mind that voting is their duty towards their nation.
By making proper use of the right to vote a common man could contribute immensely towards building their nation. On the whole as Roald Dahl said “Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world”. Elections are one the easiest way for a common man to contribute towards this change.