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Essay on “Need for Electoral Reforms in India” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Need for Electoral Reforms in India

Indiscriminate adoption of democratic form of Government had made it more or less a farce. In fact for the proper working of democracy politically conscious people, well organized opposition, independent judiciary, free press and, above all, proper type of representation to all the interests of the society are necessary. All of these factors, taken together are essential because these constitute the props of the superstructure of democratic organisation. In a country like India representation of all the interests of the different sections of the society is necessary because here people belonging to different religions, castes, languages and even traditions live. At the time of elections it is often observed that the different constituencies are re-organized in order to suit the interests of the party in power. Similarly, money plays an important role in determining the election results. The most serious defect in the electoral system is the very method of representation that is the single-member constituency system. That is why during the earlier elections the Congress Party despite getting less than 50% votes has been majority party. This type of representation means that the interests of all the people are not represented and the Government is not truly representative Government. That is why the need for electoral reforms is felt.

It has been pointed out that three proposals were receiving the attention of the people. First of all whether proportional representation should be introduced or not. Secondly, how election expenses could be limited. Lastly, whether the voting age should be reduced from 21 to 18. Only the last reform has been introduced.

At this time the system of elections is a single member constituency. In other words, any particular candidate, who is able to get votes more than what the other gets, is elected. It has been pointed out that the elected candidate may secure even 30% votes whereas the defeated candidates taken together might have polled 70% votes. It implies that the elected candidate represents only 30% of the voters. This means that the Parliament itself is not truly representative. So the Cabinet Committee had examined proportional representation as a substitute for the existing system. They examined List System of the kind obtainable in West Germany and it was generally thought that the proportional representation in its absolute sense would not be favoured. It has been proved beyond doubt that the proportional representation does not lead to political instability. The report of the Hansard Society’s Commission on Electoral Reforms which comprised experts of international renown contains a very incisive analysis of the system of the single-member constituency as it is found in India and Britain today. They have pointed out that this system does not “produce a fair representation of the views of the people in Parliament”. They also point out that it is wrong to say that proportional representation leads to economic, political and social collapse. They say that all the Western European countries except France and Britain, have adopted one or the other form of proportional representation and their economic performance has been superior to that of France and England. They refuted the argument that proportional representation involve a proliferation of political parties, instability or the perpetual changes of Government arising from shifting coalition. They say that it totally depends on the form of proportional representation and also on the social and political culture of that country. So all the arguments against proportional representation have been adequately answered by the Hansard Committee. That is why it is generally thought that proportional representation will be the most suitable form of electoral system in India.

Tarkunde Committee had suggested a little variation of proportional representation. According to it only a candidate who polls more than 50% of the valid votes in the constituency, should be declared elected. The rest will be filled not by direct elections but in proportion to the votes polled by the political parties from out of the party list of candidates published in advance. This system retains the single-member constituency and introduces the minimum change to correct distortions. The distribution from the list is done in such a manner that the total strength of the party in the legislature will be in proportion to the votes polled by it. Hansard Society’s Commission formula also retains the single-member constituency but recommends that only three quarter of the members of the House of Commons will be directly elected from the first-past-the-post system. In order to remove the distortions of the results of these seats, additional seats will be allotted to the parties according to a formula which is quite complicated. So Tarkunde Committee’s proposals are more simple and relevant to Indian conditions.

While making these changes some of the observations of the Hansard Society’s Commission report submitted in June, 1976, must be kept in mind. It pointed out with particular reference to Indian situation, that a government with a dependable majority has no constitutional check on its actions. So it is necessary that the electoral system should prevent this type of minority rule. They further pointed out that in India this system has made it possible for the constitution to be changed by a 2/3rd majority of the members of the Lok Sabha elected by less than 50% of the voters. Nobody can deny the truth of Mr. Churchil’s statement which he made in 1931, “No Government which is in minority in the country even though it possesses a working majority in the House of Commons can have the necessary power to cope with real problems.” In fact political stability is the product of healthy viable party system.

The second problem is election expenses. According to Tarkunde Committee limit of expenses on election should be doubled. The Committee recommended that party expenses and other expenses in furtherance of the prospect of the candidate be included in the return of the candidate’s expenses. He felt that any further increase in the ceiling is not necessary in view of the facilities of the party expense. The Committee on Election Expenses was also set up by Citizens for Democracy, which reported detailed recommendations. Their recommendations are modest and of practicable nature. In 1974, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of K.C. Gupta versus Amar Nath Chawla that the expenditure incurred by the political party in connection with the election of a candidate, as distinguished from expenditure on general party propaganda must be included in his election expenses. The ruling was nullified by amending the law. In fact this is a relevant ruling and amendment must be deleted. The most important part of the mater is party finances. The Election Commission sometime back recommended that even political parties should be called upon to account for the expenses incurred by them for the election campaign of their candidates. The Committee of the parliament turned down this suggestion because “of the practical difficulties”. In fact there must be no practical difficulties but only the political interest that made them to reject the proposal. The elections have shown that the bulk of election expenses are incurred by the political parties with the result that the rate of election expenses is going far above the ceiling fixed and the candidates who are not sponsored by political parties are comparatively at much disadvantage. Unless the political parties are asked to account for their expenses, it will be sheer nonsense to make any other reform. Money power in the elections has also made a channel for the black-money to flow. This has resulted in imbalancing the whole economy of India.

The voting age has been reduced to 18 years. It means the participation of a very large number of people in the elections. Consequently, the elections become unmanageable and involve a huge expenditure. Moreover, reducing the voting age to 18 means that even the school and college students are taking part in elections. That again means bringing politics to universities, colleges and the schools. The IXth General Elections have proved that the participation of the young is beneficial

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