September 4, 2013, IPF Seminar Hall
The importance of electoral reform in India can hardly be exaggerated. It is all the more important for India, world’s biggest democracy that uses election as the sole exercise of participation in the democratic procedure. But the present chaos, underlying totalitarianism and corruption existing in every political party undermine the process of democratic choice to a large extent. Cheap, popular politics with very sensitive issues often seriously compromises the country’s communal or sectarian harmony. IPF as a vigilant watchdog of the democratic health of this country formed a joint group of scholars from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Delhi University and fellows from IPF to discuss all these issues.
The joint group suggested key areas where major electoral reforms should be introduced and nailed some major troubles that fuel the need of electoral reforms. Growing fragmentation in society is instigating a situation where centrifugal forces are consistently exceeding centripetal forces. We are passing through a transitional phase of democracy where new consciousness in marginalized and deprived sections results into newer expectations. Therefore, different power sections are challenging predominant political tradition of this country. Mistaken identities emerged due to complex admixture of social, political and economic favors. Such situation needs to be tackled with strong social mobilization and the election commission should take much more responsibilities in order to create consciousness and vigilance in people. It also felt that increasing criminalization of politics is a matter of concern.
- Use of religious places for preaching politics should be debarred.
- Political parties should hold periodical internal elections.
- If candidates are found guilty of using criminal, communal, casteist tools to win, or even after the election use these tactics they must be disqualified. Concerned political party should be denied participation in the next election.
- Politicians must declare their association with professional bodies, profit seeking organizations and NGOs.
The suggestions are as follows: Communal and casteist speeches should be strictly curbed and use of religious places (mosques, Church, temples etc) to preach politics should be prohibited. Political parties should be bound to hold periodical elections and election commission should also appoint an observer to monitor the process. If candidates are found guilty during election of using criminal, communal, casteist tools to win, or even after the election uses these tactics he or she must be disqualified. Elected representatives should declare their property details with valid sources of income including their family member’s in every six months through affidavit. The affidavit must also mention details of association of the concerned politician with professionals, profit seeking organizations and NGOs.
The Panel Members of the programme were: Isha Rustagi, IIT, Delhi, Surbhi Garg, IIT, Delhi, Mayank Agrawal, IIT, Delhi, Ritubhan Gautam, IIT, Delhi, Anshuman Singh,