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Universal Adult Franchise: How It Is Hurting India’s Democracy

Use of money and muscle power in Indian politics is well-known. And the target population is huge: the poor, the illiterate, and sometimes the politically-uneducated. That’s one of the reasons why our governments since independence have been reluctant in eradication of poverty and implementation of better education; because if they do, they would lose the large share of their vote bank that can be bought quite easily. So, their strategies all the while since have been to introduce schemes that give away free goodies (like the 1 rupee rice), instead of making them stronger to earn their own meal.

To be frank, I’m not a fan of Universal Adult Franchise. In my 9th standard when I had first heard about it, it had excited me. When I’m eighteen, I can cast my vote! But only when I grew up a little more, I could gradually realize that the whole idea is flawed.

Even if economically weak, a literate person is less likely to be bought out to vote to someone. Most of the people who can be bought are the people who cannot afford to give a damn about the country, as they are too busy finding out an extra penny for their night’s meal. I presume most of these people to be illiterate because, a literate person is more likely to make for his own lunches than to be expecting that from the government. Statistically speaking. Also, the reason for my presumption is that I believe education makes you a bit more moral and ethical than you otherwise would be. You then would rather not vote or don’t care than to be bought out (No wonder most of us do not vote at all!).

Russian journalist Yulia Latynina proposes an idea of ktitocracy: electoral qualification that consists in allowing to vote only to those who pay taxes. Well that would be a bit too harsh (I like it nevertheless), but at least we can qualify those who have a basic level of education. Of course, it might sound impractical to say that, as politicians themselves today do not have a basic level of education. So, first we may need to correct that.

Giving voting rights based on one’s education has another crucial advantage. It forces the government to to push for free and compulsory  education instead of free lunches. I firmly believe that free education is a good way to aid in eradication of poverty. Then, not only can India be the largest, but also the strongest democracy.

Jai Hind!

Categories: Standing By India

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Chinmay Hegde

2 replies

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  2. The problem with education based voting rights and taxpayer based voting rights is that they deny the other groups a say in the governance. As you correctly pointed out, ktitocracy would be very harsh because only 3% of the population would be voters in this case.
    Coming to education based voting rights, in India we have 74% literacy. Statistically, illiterate people are poor as well. Hence, your argument that buying out of voters can be handled with this solution is correct. However, there is a big gap in this system i.e. since the poor do not have voting rights, no politician would care to bother about them. What this means is they become more poor. Poverty and Unhygienic conditions go hand in hand. 26% of our population would fall on roads. These people who neither have their own money, nor have any public aid would take to riots and I don’t need to further explain this vicious cycle that had taken down many mighty empires in the past, like the French revolution, Bolshevik revolution etc.

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