- Created on Monday, 07 April 2014 14:19 07 April 2014
Democracy in India today is a blue pill democracy: it’s only an illusion of democracy, and its true nature is vastly different; corrupt to its core and parasitical.
As it stands it’s a version of the lead, follow or get out of the way paradigm and it is failing us. It concentrates power in the hands of a narrow group of elites and tends to support this oligarchy.
Does it have to be this way?
No, not if you take the red pill, this will strip away all the illusion and leave us with a real democracy.
So what is the red pill? A red pill democracy is where the electorate is the most powerful section of society, and they achieve this power by having the right to reject all candidates standing in any election.
In our current system candidates have only an incentive to be the least worst in an election at most, and worse than that good candidates can be discouraged from putting themselves forward as unscrupulous candidates turn politics into a cesspool within which on thugs and those willing to deal with thugs can survive.
With the right to reject all candidates in the hands of the electorate candidates now have to strive to be at their best, and this can lead to an improvement of the quality of candidates and policies to a level hitherto unseen in Indian politics.
Is this not a critical objective if we are to progress as a nation?
So you like the idea, but think there is no way for it to be ever get implemented? Think again.
In September 2013 the Indian Supreme Court laid out its judgment that the ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option must be included on the recently introduced electronic voting machines (EVMs). This option was not the right to reject, but the electronic equivalent to spoiling a ballot paper, a symbolic act that carries little weight in an election, and its widespread use would only lead to confusion and uncertainty with no clear outcome so defeating its very presence as voters would be reluctant to use the option preferring instead to stay at home or just voting for the least worst candidate on the ballot.
However more importantly the SC used sections from two UN documents in part to help formulate its judgment:
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UHDR) - While not a treaty itself, the Declaration was explicitly adopted for the purpose of defining the meaning of the words "fundamental freedoms" and "human rights" appearing in the United Nations Charter, which is binding on all member states’……many international lawyers, believe that the Declaration forms part of customary international law[
- International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) -India has signed and ratified this covenant (and so has most of the world), so is bound by its terms.
The SC has set a precedent that these 2 documents are necessary in forming a judgment on the rights of Indian voters; I believe that these 2 documents have wording that logically and legally demand that voters must have the right to reject in any democratic voting process.
The sections I focus on are not the only ones in the UHDR and the ICCPR that support the right to reject, but I believe these sections are the most significant.
UDHR includes this passage in Article 21:
The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government…..
The ICCPR includes the passage in Article 25
(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors;
(Emphasis my own)
So what is the definition of ‘will of the people/electors’? From the Oxford English dictionary we find that the relevant definition of ‘will’ is expressing desire, consent, or willingness.
It’s clear that consent is a vital component of will. How can any government whose authority is based on the will of the electorate not have their consent? Once we can establish that consent cannot be given without the right to reject all candidates the Indian government is bound by the UDHR and ICCPR to provide it.
Let me clarify, in a democracy regardless of for whom we vote, we consent that the winner of that election will represent the whole of that electorate. However if we do not have the means to withhold consent, it is impossible to give consent.
How can consent be given if it cannot be withheld?
The only fair and practical way consent can be withheld is by having the right to reject all candidates on the ballot that ensures the election is held again if that choice received a majority of the valid votes cast. (If consent can be established by ticking a box on a ballot, then withholding consent must be by a method equivalent to giving consent to ensure fairness)
For example if I look at the list of candidates on the ballot and I find that none of them are worthy of my vote; I have no means of expressing that opinion; so the winner of the election is representing me without my consent. In a democracy this is a clear violation of my rights and of everyone who thinks the same way I do. The only way the free expression of my will can be expressed is through the right to reject all candidates through as an option on the ballot.
In my view the right to reject all candidates is not a refinement of the voting system, it is a pre-requisite to any fair and equitable voting system that allows the free expression of the will of the electorate.
If voters are given real power in the political process it encourages their engagement, not just in the voting process, but in all aspects of the political process. They have now become active participants in their governance rather than passive recipients of governance that is on offer to them on a particular day.
Dear readers the red pill or the blue pill. Which do you choose?
The full SC judgement is available here: http://www.pucl.org/Topics/Law/2013/vote_none.pdf
The full text of the UDHR is here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/Language.aspx?LangID=eng
The full text of the ICCPR is here: http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx
There are some practical and logistical issues to address in having the right to reject all candidates and possible solutions are outlined here: http://notauk.org/2013/11/16/nota-for-real-logistics-ramifications/
- Created on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 12:14 05 March 2014
- The 2014 General Election will be spread across 9 phases. General Elections or the Lok Sabha elections are held to elect MP (Member of parliament) in the Lok Sabha / लोक सभा
- The State Elections of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will also coincide with the General Elections. The State Elections are held to elect the MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) in the Vidhan Sabha / विधान सभा
- In addition to the above the State Bye Elections for few constituencies of Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal will also be held during the below mentioned 9 phases.
|2014 General Election Schedule (All India), (Lok Sabha, लोक सभा )|
|2014 State Election Schedule for Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim (Vidhan Sabha, विधान सभा )|
To check the Election date for your constituency, please click on the below link for detailed information. Click here
VOTER VERIFIABLE PAPER AUDIT TRAIL (VVPAT)
The Election commission will use the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trial (VVPAT) system in some of the Constituencies, subject to availability of number of units. Voters will be able to receive a receipt like audit trail confirmining that they have cast their vote.
NONE OF THE ABOVE (NOTA) OPTION IN EVMs
The NOTA option will be available in the Voting Machines. When a voter presses the NOTA button, a NULL vote will be registered in the EVM. This means that the voter has not cast his/her vote for any candidate. For more information on NOTA please click here