Indian Elections

Ornit Shani speaks of the ramifications of the election system placed in India by the British Raj during their colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent. The election process in India is an established one that has been practised effectively since the beginning of Independent India.


In order to speak extensively about the contemporary process of election that takes place in the country, the fundamental regulations to be followed by the electoral board needs to be established which Ornit Shani with the excellent acquaintance of Srinath Raghavan posited through her speech. 


The prioritising factor when it comes to the capacity to contribute to the election process is the requirement of being a citizen of the nation. In this case, this requirement existed even during the British Raj. The other requirement is the age of an individual is required to be 21 or more in order to be able to vote in an election. To shine light upon the electoral process and its inception during the British rule, the question of the inculcation of the Universal Adult Franchise was brought up, especially during the 1930s, but the innate problem that deemed this worthless were a multitude of factors that in succession, established a clear distance between the inclusion of the UAF and the electoral processes of the Indian subcontinent. 


The first issue was a logistical one, which was the absence of sufficient personnel in the polling department. The second hindrance was the rampant illiteracy that pervaded through the houses and huts of India which deemed the erection of UAF next to impossible. In an imperialist and colonialist atmosphere, UAF required the creation of a joint list of voters that included people from all sections of the society, including the colonized along with the colonizers, which has its own juxtaposing issues. The creation of the Indian Civil Services was an attempt at clearing this issue in order to cater to the free flowing of bureaucracy within the nation state. According to Ornit Shani, what is to be taken into consideration is that the bureaucrats of the 1930s were essentially obstructionists in nature, meaning that their sole intentions were to deliberately delay or evade a process of polity. This resulted in the demands made by the authorities to create lists and instructions in order to make sure that their objectives are accomplished successfully. The democratic dialogue which was to take place during the time of elections was overturned and the order of disenfranchisement was passed in order to keep a political dominance and hegemony intact. 


Further, Srinath speaks about the treaties of accession that the princely states were to sign in order to be a part of this larger state. The clauses of the treaty of accession was based on the subjects of the provision of defense, external affairs, and communications. Yet, according to Srinath, nowhere in the treaty does it provide ownership or rulership of the territory itself to the party that drafted the treaty. The attempt at connecting people all across India through an electoral process was disturbed by several states. For example, Saurashtra created its own constituency in order to deviate from the central powers which created a hindrance. 

Another issue in the effective completion of the election process post partition was the inclusion of refugees in the electoral list. The requirement of citizenship in order to vote is something that the refugees lacked, and the waiting period of 180 days within the nation was not completed in order to provide citizenship. This inevitably resulted in the disenfranchisement of Indian voters due to the question of what really constituted an Indian.


A solution was reached that the refugees would be provided with a citizenship upon the agreement of their stay in the camp until further due process was completed. Being on the electoral role meant that an individual’s citizenship was guaranteed, which was an imperative requirement for many people who were deemed to be stateless due to the geopolitical situation. The creation of awareness for this was a rather difficult one and the result of the same is the ultimate reason for the existence of the election process in the Republic of India.



About the Author: A self proclaimed meme lord that barely makes any but laughs at many, all Vishal Bhadri does is read, listen to music, and cry during both the activities. Vishal has a poetry blog called Memory Palace that has all of his two poems in it.  He is doing his triple major in Communications, Literature and Psychology at Christ University. He currently writes for TheSeer.

Majoritarianism and the Indian Democracy

The evening session started with the introduction of famous Indian Historian, Novelist, and political and social Essayist Mr. Mukul Kesavan. He studied History at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi and later at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge where he received his MLitt having been awarded the Inlaks scholarship. His first book, a novel titled –  ‘Looking through glass’ (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1994) received international critical acclaim. In 2001, he wrote a political tract titled ‘Secular Common Sense’ published by Penguin India. He was joined by the likes of another literary genius Mr. Srinath Raghavan who is Senior Fellow at the Center for Policy Research, New Delhi, specialising in contemporary and historical aspects of  India’s foreign and security policies. He is also a visiting Senior Research Fellow at the India Institute of the King’s College London and a Professor of History and International Relations at the Ashoka University. 


The debate on majoritarianism kicked off wonderfully with the panel questioning each other on various aspects of politics involved in communalism and the play of power structure in majority and minority. They discussed about the idea of separate elections which safeguard the interests of minorities. Mukul gave an overarching analysis about the colonial India which is inclined towards the Hindus and cultural euphemism. He drew parallels from the current scenario in Myanmar and NRC (National Registration of Citizens)  in India alongside enlightening the listeners about South Asian approach towards democracy as a whole. Srinath on the other hand brought forth the different ideologies which are actually credited for the current state of politics in India. He discusses Savarkar’s idea of a Hindu nation and his intolerant approach towards one section of the country which was Muslims. He then went on to describe Savarkar’s ideology as he was a pragmatic practitioner of Hindu philosophy. He advocated for validating religious myths and blind faith against the test of modern science. In that sense, he was also a rationalist and reformer and thus his spectacle of society can not be discarded. The panelists then shared a discourse over the majoritarian supreme of the current authority which abrogated article 370, triple talaq and brought the NRC. These policies have a clear edge towards one strata of Indian society which is the Muslim minority. They also referred to today’s verdict which also fell in the court of Hindus. The debt that RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) had to pay to Golwalkar is being slowly rectified. 


Both the panelists drew home their viewpoints on the aspect of majoritarianism and the Indian politics in a homogeneous manner which had more to do with acceptance of the fact that every country is rooted in a religious belief which paves way for majority and minority. They also give away the idea that a Savarkar followed 19th century nationalism whereby no country was ever born without war. The widely fruitful session for the listeners ended with an audience interaction with some counter theories as well as queries about the subaltern society of the nation to which both panelists dealt and answered in the most precise and subtle manner as possible, taking nothing away from their perspective.




About the Author: Abhinav Kumar is an MA in English with Communication Studies student from CHRIST ( Deemed To Be University), Bengaluru who believes in “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world”. He is interested in sports journalism and travelogue writing. He currently writes for TheSeer.