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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Democratic Rights....

The world's largest democary goes to the polls today onwards ...to renew its tryst with destiny, to reinculcate its faith in the power of its people, to shape its destiny, to give it leaders who will dare to think, to implement and empower a nation where its intrinsic diversity shapes its unity!

When an astounding 750 million voters are eligible to exercise this right of democracy, an evolved infrastructure and fool-proof system need to be in place. The voting machines we use are indeed an evolution from the days of manual vote counting..but are they enough?

As the city which has been my home for the past year or so goes to vote today, here I am sitting in front of my computer 'enjoying' a holiday...a passive participant in a dynamic process! I am not alone....there are thousands like me, who are unable to vote due to their frequently changing co-ordinates! Who are away from the city where they are registered in the electoral rolls! So dont people like us have the right to vote and be a part of the elaborate exercise of choosing the mandate?

In a country touted as a software superpower, churning out lakhs of engineers every year, cant we expect introduction and implementation of a new technology to address this handicap of a nation of mobile citizens?

If money transfer, bill payments, and many other exercises in which unique identity is not only crucial, but also essential, through mobiles and internet can become part and parcel of our lives, why cant the voting system be made online? An unique identity number or smart card (containing relevant details about a particular citizen) generated by the Office of the Electoral Commission can be used to cast our votes through SMS or the internet.

True, I'm simpilfying a complicated and a mammoth process involving years of micro and macro tasking. But with our giant force of technocrats, highly qualified technical experts, world reknowned and reputed software giants and a comfortable gap of five years between two consecutive elections, is it really an impossible task?

I doubt..... though such a system should have been in place during this year's much publicised, much maligned and much hyped General Elections, I sincerely hope, the forthcoming government will put this system in place in 2014 in joint collaboration with the best brains in the world!
So that wherever I am, I can exercise my democratic rights! Am I asking for too much too soon??

32 comments:

Pradip Biswas said...

Sharmistha
From yesterday I am doing the same. The vehicle was taken away by election machinary, so I am locked up in a hotel room and writing something in my notebook. People like us who got to move away from place to place are not a negligible mass and possibly such a mass has a high probabilty to be educated and responsible. Then why we are deprived? First of all nobody bothers. Truely admiting before reading your blog I was enjoying holiday. Like that everyone voters and vote arranging govt machinaries. May be in the next election we may be able to enjoy our voting rights.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

At least your name should be on a central register so that when you go to vote (wherever you are) the people at the booth can look you up on the computer. Now that the govt is issuing PAN cards, maybe that can be possible in the future, at least for people who pay tax.

SGD said...

@PB-I hope so too....

@RMC-Yes your suggestion could be quite a simple start actually! Thanks to the PAN, the database must be ready...atleast for the taxpayers. Now a little modification, could make a central master database and could act as a reference point for voters (irrespective of geographical location)...

Sujata said...

I loved your portrayal of you.

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

Technology is no doubt will improve subjects a lot but what major improvement required is :
" What we want for ourselves for years to come"
Awareness - The most important.
When we are aware of our rights & duties we are educated.

Kavi said...

But of course. I am with you. My vote is someplace else.

And i wonder, if i can chose to pay the electricity bill of an ancestral house many kilometers away, why not make that exercise of choice !

I think we should campaign for this more !

Whatsay !

SGD said...

@Sujata - Thanks! :)

@Hobo-YOu are absolutely right! But the awareness has to be translated into the freedom to exercise our aware and thus vote the right person to power and not be handicapped by geographical co-ordinates...

@Kavi-We SHOULD! Heaven alone knows why our tech savvy GenX politicians did not do something !!

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HR said...

The issue raised by the author is very relevant.How can one be debarred from casting his or her valuable vote? The electoral machinery needs to be properly designed to permit all voters throughout the country to take participation in the election process. There is a contradiction. On one hand the citizens are being encouraged at all levels to exercise their democratic rights, on the other, the infrastructure is not place to support interested voters to exercise their franchise.

There is no dearth of good brains in our country. Designing of on line voting system as proposed by the author may not be a very tough job for a country which is considered to be the haven of excellent technical brains.

You have started writing on various matters... quiet interesting.. keep it up..

The Weekend Blogger said...

I won 't be able to vote this time because I have moved from Kolkata to Delhi and i forgot to get myself registered here. But I have read somewhere that if you carry a valid proff of indentity like a Passport to the polling booth, the polling officer is bound to register your vote separately. I'll do some research on this before I march off to the pooling booth.

nsiyer said...

I do agree in full measure. This I am sure will see the light of the day in the next general elections.

Reflections said...

U've raised very valid points!!!!

At home we were discussing the same matter 2 days back but in a different context...tht there r so many millions of us who r displaced from our state & country, unable to vote....hopefully these [unvoted]votes are not misused by the concerned authorities..u knw like proxy voting, etc:-(

A very good post Sharmistha, makes 1 sit up & think, really!!!!!!

Rajesh said...

This is a very valid point.

I think as of now only defense personals have this right where they can excise their vote away from their constituency

Chakra said...

We have a very strong point here. Only thing, we must remember that out in the world of politics, everything is not as simple as it looks so. The hitech affair that we are speaking here about is to be used by educated class. And this class is too hard to be managed by election time freebies.
this is why our most great leaders love to start career from a constituency in remote areas, where their party machinery can ensure a win for them. (Remember the Bellary episode of Sonia)!!

Once the remote voting is developed, the elections can not be rigged, the goons of parties would be jobless on the election date, mere slogans would not be sufficient for educated class. These are the issues that te politicians would have to address. Unless they do not get sufficient reason to their election techniques, perfected over years, they would not co-operate for Internet / SMS based votings.

SGD said...

@HR & NSIyer-Agree with you totally..hope the system is in place in the coming election

@TWB-Hope you are successful! That'll really be a revelation...do update once you actually go for the voting..ALL the BEST!

@Reflection -Absolutely right! Proxy voting/rigging are other menaces & evils in our system which will get eliminated if the remote system is put in place. But the question is, do our candidates/parties want to stop this nefarious activity?

@Rajesh:I didnt know this fact reg defence personnel...thanks!


@Chakra-Exactly! That;s the point...do our politicians and honchos in the upper crust of political parties REALLY want such transparent systems in place?

SAPTARSI DEV said...

This is certainly a very do-able project given the competancy of IT professionals here.
It will certainly help a large migrant population across the country to exercise their franchise.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

I feel as you do, helpless and deprived. But I am involved in the voting process in another way (post on that coming up). But the sense of duty well done will elude me, because of this shifting business.

Sumandebray said...

I wish things were made a bit simpler. Some countries let their non resident citizens vote at their respective embassies. But there are no such hope for us. Maybe we are too many of us everywhere.... maybe we are too insignificant to make a dent. But our US collegues did vote during their presidential election where ever they were.... Maybe someday things will change. Our country is doing a lot for our people but we wish for a little more..

naperville mom said...

Being here, that's one of the things I miss, apart from the food:( Not sure whether the dual citizenship is open to the right to vote too.

Little Girl Lost said...

hello sharmistha.
it feels so good when someone says something nice about something i write. thank you so much...
and what an interesting blog you have! i've been thinking of writing about the elections myself. i loved your take on this and agreed with you in most parts...
i am definately going to drop in everytime you write. and now i'll take a look at your other posts...

Little Girl Lost said...

Sharmistha, if you liked my blog, please do become a follower so that i can share with you whenever i write. looking forward to staying in touch with you.

and if you liked my poem, please read this and tell me if you like it :)
http://amritorupa.blogspot.com/2009/04/insomnia.html

ugich konitari said...

SGD, Great post.

Isnt it strange that we are so quick to initiate systems that generate one more id card (smart driving licences, pan cards, voters cards, BPL cards etc), but no one wants to link the information. Because everything is initiated with a different motive, than the one that says give a decent truthful ID to every citizen of the country and get recorded.

There are vested interests who are interested in maintaining the status quo wrt this id stuff. And the EC behaves more like police than like a citizen rights & record managing entity.

SGD said...

@SD-Right you are, but who will bell the Cat?

@Sucharita - Now you've made me curious??? Tell me tell me....

@Sumandebray-Thanks for stopping by.
No, I dont think we are too insignificant! The problem is probably that our views, the views of the educated mass, far removed from their hometown by circumstances, careers or choice, are a tad bit too significant and path-changing for the comfort of our greedy, corrupt, power-hungry politicians & their cadets!

SGD said...

@NM-If your name is registered in the rolls & you're physically present, maybe you CAN....but not too sure.

Can someone throw some light on this?

@LGL-Thanks for visiting...
Maybe you can write about the elections in verse! A limerick or two would be fun!!

@UgichK-Thanks..
Right you are! When we HAVE so many Govt generated 'Smart' IDs (PAN, Voters ID,Driving L, etc etc) that means several databases exist. So why in the name of GOD cant they be consolidated?
All pointers point towards the vested interest of the bunch of hoodlums /jokers who pass of as politicians!
Shameful indeed!

Sujata said...

Nice post!

Aniket said...

You kinda reciprocated my feelings here.

My freinds and I were having the exact same discussion the other day.

Its not that we are making it completely online. But an option shoud be given to people. Its high time that something on the lines of a Social Security Number in implemented in India for identity check.

But alas, it seems highly unlikely in the near future.

The politicians don't want the learned to vote. Nor is our government in a position to prevent hackers to prude into websites in its current state.

Cyber laws are virtually non-existant here.

SGD said...

@Aniket-Really unfortunate that those who want to cant exercise their rights.
And the illiterate masses are made to vote by dangling a measly carrot of a few hundred bucks, one square meal on the day of the polls & a bottle of local liquor!!

And we proudly proclaim we are the upcoming Superpower of the world! Huh!!!

Hip Grandma said...

voting online?you must be kidding.A meaningful voter's list for a small segment of a small town eludes our election commision and you really think that we'd get to vote online?You have a right to be optimistic and i have mine to be realistic.But you have a point.with jobs taking one away from one's hometown there should be a process that allows people to vote.As one comment to this post mentions, a valid document should be enough to prove one's identity and should be allowed to vote.It is my vote and I get to use it once in 5 years.Why all this fuss and harassment?No answers yet.I am still thinking.

SGD said...

@HipGrandma-You are so right...what's all this harrassment to exercise our right as citizens of a democracy!
But what more would you expect in a country where hardcore criminals are the candidates of national parties and when educated urban professionals, instead of just being bystanders and passive critics, actually decide to contest, are criticised and condemned!

However I continue being optimistic as what I suggested is a very doable exercise, considering the number of databases the govt maintains!

Greener Bangalore said...

Very neatly placed words and intents......

SGD said...

@GB-Thanks! And welcome to my blog...

aabsens said...

definitely i'll have a look at ur post as above...thanx a lot fr droppin in...u know...i'm new here so hvng difficulty wth this follow business...neways if u can help me out by telling me how can i involve more ppl 2c my blogs it'll b wonderful...