•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student
other

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences
An estimated 5-minute read
 Email  Facebook  Tweet  Linked-in

Guest blogger and Supreme Court advocate Shinam A Seth writes about what has made this election special.

The last vote has been cast. The last franchise exercised. The exit polls play havoc with the mind and the market alike.

As the curtains on the largest democratic, electoral exercise known to humanity, come to a final close, India and the world wait in anticipation. Some would even say, in trepidation.

Not so much, for who is going to be the leader of the world’s largest democracy- the exit polls in the last few days seem to be giving us, a fair glimpse of that.

But, for the hopes and aspirations of a billion plus people waiting earnestly to seize their destiny. Waiting, with bated breath, to watch India take its true place on the world stage.

What sets this Indian national election apart from any others in the past? It isn’t the first exercise of its people’s precious franchise. Nor, the first exploration of India’s democratic polity.

In fact, the Indian Constituent Assembly, drafted the Indian Constitution with Universal Adult Franchise as its most cherished right, as a cornerstone of our freedom and democracy. Universal suffrage was the way, immediately upon the founding of India, as a republic, much unlike and much before many of its western counterparts.

I ask myself, then, what is so remarkable about election and verdict 2014?

Elections 2014 have been a visible celebration of the diversity of India and her democracy. This nine phase electoral process for the 16th Lok Sabha has been extraordinary, to say the least.

Described by US President Barack Obama, as an “example for the world”, this Indian election has been watched with awe and with a sense of festivity for one of the many things, that India does get right.

The largest ever voter turnout in India at an average of 66.4%, across all regions, past caste and class barriers, is second only to the general elections in 1984, which took place in an unusually sensitive environment, after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination, and led to the sympathetic vote in favour of her son, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

This marvellous display of voter gusto makes this election historic, for the larger role it will play in reflecting our ‘evolving’ political discourse. Perhaps it is the power of social media- the much celebrated voter ‘selfie’ all over Facebook, the Twitter hash tag desperate to converse, not to forget the constant political chatter on all media. Or perhaps it is merely the access to information that makes it impossible to remain uninformed and apolitical, anymore.

But most importantly, it is the rise of a nation. An uninhibited resolve of the people. An unhindered fervour, to exhibit the power of the ballot.

This enthusiastic voter turnout across various States and communities, the fabulous CSR initiatives reflective of an evolved corporate culture, the ‘Power of 49’ translating in the large number of women voters outnumbering men in many constituencies and the engaging TV advertisements reflective of the real issues plaguing the country, is only reflective of fact that the Indian voter is informed, involved and is ready to seize the moment.

The political apathy and previous apolitical-ness, no more acceptable. A unified zeal, to defeat, all sense of disillusionment. Election 2014 has harboured a political engagement and passion in India, akin (I dare say) to an India-Pakistan Cricket World Cup Final. Everyone has an opinion, everyone is passionate and everyone is watching. And more so, aiming for a singular goal- a win for India.

And this festive zest limited itself not just to the ‘masses’. This election has had the ‘classes’ sitting up and participating with pride. From the average auto-wallah to your drawing room intellectual. From school children in Andhra Pradesh who encouraged their parents to sign an election pledge to poll officers in Meghalaya who flew kites with the slogan “Your vote counts”. Their enthusiasm, all encompassing.

This exceptional turnout is largely attributable to increased participation of younger and first-time voters, as well as women. And more so to the mammoth and laudable effort of the Election Commission of India (EC) in reaching out to the 551 million voters who cast their ballot, more than the combined population of the US, Germany, Canada and the UK.

Government spending on this election is up 131% from the last time around, making this the costliest election ever. This due to the many initiatives of the EC, including one known as Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation programme (SVEEP). From flash mobs and human chains to witty skits, catchy jingles on the radio to hoardings yelling “Say yes to vote, no to note”, the EC has left no stone unturned, to rope in virtually every section of society.

This renewed recognition and celebration of the sanctity of every vote, of the true vision behind the Constituent Assembly’s objective for one (wo)man, one vote is what this diverse nation has responded to. And what we must cherish and embrace.

Much has been said about this personality driven, ‘presidential style’ election and even more disturbingly, about the (perceived) threat to the secular fabric of our country.

Only the voter, the electorate- We the People of India - can protect, guard and ensure that these treasured morals weaved into our constitutional framework and inherent to our culture, remain intact, no matter who comes to power. Let us, the Indian people, remain a feared entity, capable and determined to continue to play our part in this dance of democracy. Our role has only just begun.

One can only hope and wish that this political engagement doesn’t fade and that We the People, learn by heart, that we truly are the lead protagonists of our own lives, and masters of the destiny of this gifted polity. As Maistre famously said: In a democracy people only get the leaders they deserve.

And more than that, one can only dare to dream and trust that the next government, our chosen representatives, consciously realise and recognise this precious faith and voice of a billion, hope-filled people.

Vox Populi, Vox Dei! The voice of the people is truly the voice of God.

Shinam A Seth is an advocate of the Supreme Court of India

Click to show 1 comment
at your own risk
(alt+c)
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.

Latest comments