The world’s largest democracy (India, in case you didn’t know) is voting now to choose its new government. The sheer numbers that India is dealing with are enormous and astounding – some that the rest of the world will never witness.
As of Feb 2014, the number of people from this 1.2 billion strong country who are eligible to vote is an amazing 814 million+. Compare that to about 150 million registered voters in USA.
In fact, around 120 million voters in India will be voting for the first time since the last national elections that were held in 2009….they are the new grown-ups with a huge, new responsibility to help guide the country into their future.
930,000 polling stations will be used with 1.4 million electronic voting machines. Thousands of police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed to polling stations to provide security. Truly a behemoth project!
The actual voting is taking place over a period of more than a month, that began on April 7th and will go through May 12th in a phased manner across various regions of the country.
The national level elections for the Lok Sabha or the “House of the People” (the lower house of the Parliament of India) is represented by members of Parliament from a total of 543 constituencies. The leading party (likely an alliance of parties) will need 272 seats to form the government of India for the next five years. By mid-May, India will have a new leader and government, elected to take the country forward.
Sadly of the more than 3300 candidates contesting the national elections, more than 550 have criminal charges filed against them, with 328 of them being serious charges (murder, kidnapping, rape…). 😦 How is this even permitted?
But even with all that said and done, this is truly a marvel as it unfolds…democracy in action at a truly massive scale. And whether one likes the outcome or not, the country has to live with it because the majority has spoken. Did I say, democracy?
I can safely say that the leading candidate scares the bejesus out of me.
I lost my right to vote when I immigrated and became a citizen of the great democratic nation where I now live. But I didn’t lose my right to care. Or to have an opinion (a strong one at that).
I tell myself, just look back in history and you can see that democracies around the world have survived despite electing some terrible leaders, sometimes coming out even stronger for it. In fact, you don’t have to look too far, simply see the current highly ineffective, corruption-ridden government of India that is forcing people to choose change.
I tell myself that the nation is strong enough to survive, whatever happens. Until the next election.
I tell myself that someday more people will vote for clean, progressive and secular versus the alternative. And someday there will be a viable alternative. Perhaps even multiple alternatives.
I tell myself that I will eat my words if I am proven wrong this time. Happily.
I tell myself that ultimately, even with all its flaws, democracy in action is a beautiful thing.
Statistics courtesy of Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), India