New Delhi | There is much to celebrate about Indian democracy but many electoral reforms are pending for long, due to lack of political will or plain lethargy, says former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi. He says it is also imperative to be mindful of some shortcomings in our system which leave a lot of scope for improvement in democratic mechanisms.
Quraishi has edited a collection of essays written by those who have studied India’s unique experiment in electoral democracy, as well as analysts, politicians, social workers, activists, businesspersons and public servants. Many electoral reforms are long pending due to lack of political will or plain lethargy, he says in the introduction of “The Great March of Democracy: Seven Decades of India’s Elections”.
“Reforming campaign finance laws, decriminalisation of politics and bringing in a proper law for transparent constitutional appointments to posts, such as that of the CEC, are just some of the many issues regarding which the ECI has repeatedly written to the government,” he writes.
The essays in the book, published by Penguin Random House, cover a range of subjects, from the evolution of the Election Commission, the story of the first electoral roll, election laws, the deepening of democratic institutions over the decades to the participation revolution ushered in by the Election Commission’s untiring and targeted efforts at voter education.
Contemporary issues, such as influence of money and criminalisation in politics, have also been addressed, as have been the electoral reforms proposed by experts on these subjects.
According to Quraishi, several important reforms have come through the intervention of the judiciary, which has always acted as a guardian angel of democracy. “As the country moves forward, many old and new challenges are surfacing, calling for a swift and decisive action,” he says.
In the book’s foreword, former president Pranab Mukherjee writes that the abuse of money and muscle power to influence voters remains a cause of concern. “The spirit of democracy will be subverted if these malpractices are not checked,” he says.
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