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E – Elections, EB & EVM | #AtoZChallenge

E – Elections, EB and EVM | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Elections are a celebration of democracy. But in India they are more than that – the entire country comes to a standstill and whether you are buying vegetables on streets or enjoying a tea break in your corporate office, everybody is discussing the same thing, which party will win the next elections. Off late a newer trend has emerged with everybody going overboard on the usage of social media – people are losing friends, brothers aren’t talking to each other and strangers are bonding like anything only because of the ideology you support.

Cost of Elections

The General Elections of 2019 will be the costliest elections ever; it will cost an unprecedented Rs 50,000 crore ($7 billion), according to the New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies.

During an event, the current PM once stated that the entire elections cost around Rs 4000 crore. Do you know that the entire cost of BJP’s campaign was in excess of Rs 5000 crore in 2014? By that logic, their entire campaign was beyond the total cost of the entire election process.

BJP’s hired fleet of aircraft and helicopters is the highest ever in Indian poll campaign history. The party has hired business jets like Cessna Citation XLS that cost Rs 2,80,000 per hour and Falcon 4000 that cost Rs 4,00,000 per hour. For its helicopter fleet, it has hired machines like Bell 412, Agusta 109, Agusta 139. These cost between Rs 1,80,000 and Rs 4,00,000 per hour.

BJP became the number one advertiser on television in the run-up to assembly elections in five states late last year, according to the latest Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) data. Imagine the data around the general elections.

As much as 26 billion rupees will be spent on advertising in the upcoming elections, according to Zenith India, a firm that arranges for slots on TV and in newspapers.

There was another report suggesting PM’s rally in Bengal this week cost around Rs. 32 crores. Can you imagine that? I am not blaming only the ruling party. I am sure the other parties are definitely following the suit but do you ever think from where this money is coming? I hope you don’t believe that all of this is white money.

 

Electoral bonds

An electoral bond is designed to be a bearer instrument like a Promissory Note — in effect, it will be similar to a banknote that is payable to the bearer on demand and free of interest. Any citizen of India or a body incorporated in India can purchase it.

According to audit reports and income tax reports submitted by parties to the Election Commission, the BJP has been the biggest beneficiary of electoral bonds, garnering 94.5% of the bonds.

Donors of amounts below Rs 20,000 are allowed to be kept hidden legally. The current government’s electoral bond scheme allows even large-scale anonymous donations.

In an RTI response to Pune-based Vihar Durve, SBI said in 2018 it had sold bonds worth Rs 1056.73 crore in March, April, May, July, October, and November. In January and March 2019 the bank sold Electoral Bonds worth Rs 1716.05 crore, the response said. The sale shows an increase of 62% from those sold during 2018.

The biggest national parties declared a combined income of just 13 billion rupees for the year through March 2018 and the irony lies in the fact that no one is ready to disclose the source.

While candidates have a legal expenditure cap, parties can spend unrestricted amounts. No party wants to come under RTI and each of them want us to believe that they are the torchbearers of the fight against corruption.

EVM – Electronic Voting Machine

Every party or candidate that loses raises doubts on the functioning of EVM but honestly; it can be debated at length on its credibility. They have become the best scapegoats of poor performance. Recently union cabinet cleared the purchase of an additional 16 lakh EVM VVPAT machines at the cost of Rs. 3173 crores.

I tried to gather data around the number of countries using or have used EVM in the past. The maximum number I could collect was – 31 countries around the world use or have used EVMs for political elections.

Only 4 of them have used for voting nationwide – India, Brazil, Bhutan and Venezuela. 11 of them used in some parts of the country. 5 have pilots ongoing. Surprisingly, 8 of them piloted and did not continue. 3 used for a number of elections and then discontinued – Germany, Netherlands, and Paraguay.

Even the largest economy and the most developed nation, USA, resist it from being implemented. A TIME report quotes the US Election Assistance Commission Chairman Tom Hicks saying that the “primary reasons” paper ballots are used in most states are “security and voter preference”.

Do you want to know what is even more comical – GVL Narsimha Rao wrote a book, “Democracy At Risk! Can We Trust Our Electronic Voting Machines?”

In fact, Advani even wrote the foreword for the book. “I personally regard it significant that Germany, technologically, one of the most advanced countries of the world, has become so wary of EVMs as to ban their use altogether. Many states in the USA have mandated that EVMs can be used only if they have a paper back up. So manufacturers of electronic voting machines in the USA have developed a technology referred to as Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT),” Advani wrote.

I don’t want to even questions the credibility of EC. Every sane literate person knows the truth. T N Seshan was the only guy who tried to clean up the elections but it didn’t take long for the political parties to clean him up. Barring him, every now and then, the nimble EC doesn’t shy away from bowing down.

Just sit in silence for a minute and think – Are we really asking the right questions – or just like everyone else being swayed away with jingoistic slogans.

For all those who want cheaper elections,

For all those who doubt EVMs,

For all those who want parties under RTI

And

For all those who want cleaner elections…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

If you have stopped thinking come back tomorrow.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 5th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here

A – Anti-National

B – Banking

C – Climate Change

D – Demonetisation

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘F’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

 

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The VILLGRO Fellowship

The Villgro Fellowship

Rich-Poor Reality

Rich-Poor Reality

I remember giving a presentation on 11th five-year plan during an academic session as a part of MBA curriculum and I don’t know how but I stumbled upon this pic while searching for an appropriate title slide and used it. I used this pic mainly because it is self-explanatory but how it subtly signifies that the governments have failed over the years to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich. Though for the past several plans one of their underlining objectives was ‘Inclusive Growth’ – Growth of every stratum of the society simultaneously…The rich getting richer but the poor also getting better. But instead of continuous efforts and so called plans I personally believe that we have come to a stage that the middle class has virtually diminished and has gone nearly extinct. The reason for this is that the rich is getting richer while at the same time the poor is getting poorer. Hence one of most prevailing questions arise how can we change this…how can we make the state of poor in our country from the current suffocating one to at least survivable.

Statistically speaking where majority of the poor population resides in our country…it’s mainly in the rural lands. There may be many ways but one of the ways that I believe is by starting more and more rural organizations where we can employ a lot of locals as well as the end beneficiaries at large should also be them. I know that there are many NGOs and government organizations working towards achieving the same but still the work isn’t reflecting in the number of success stories that we should ideally hear. I recently heard a bunch of guys coming up with an initiative of rural BPO and I thought that it was a great move. Neither everyone can be a farmer nor is every land that is rural, futile and fertile enough to bear crops.

There are more and more visionaries who are coming up with social enterprises whose main objective doesn’t lie in creating wealth for just them. They are surrounded by a more holy motive of betterment of the poor and how they can be empowered, how they can become the controller of their destinies than mere the rain gods.

But sadly to say the infrastructure, in every regard, I don’t think is that conducive and encouraging, where we can say that the environment is suited for such entrepreneurs and such enterprises. Most of them struggle with a lot of issues and one such issue is how to move ahead with such an enterprise and such a motive. Since there is not much that has already happened in this area…there are very few mentors and experts in the same field and category. But wouldn’t it be a boon for everyone who wants to dedicate his business and life to such a cause that he gets a platform to showcase his/her enterprise and on top of that get mentors and if possible investors for their mission. Someone to understand their idea and make it kind of their own and incubate it and take it forward like a corporate company.

The Villgro Fellowship

The Villgro Fellowship

Villgro is one such non-profit institution, which is giving a platform for social entrepreneurs and enterprises with innovative and technical ideas, whose underlying theme should be the betterment of society as a whole especially the underprivileged and the poor. They have come up with an awesome Fellowship program where they encourage people from all walks of society to be a part of it and showcase their innovative idea. They will provide total support and whatever guidance is required right from the incubation stage of the idea and project. They will nurture your idea like their own and in return teach you also the key aspects of running a social enterprise so that after the fellowship you can on your own run it in a sustainable manner which achieves its objectives and goals with which you wanted to start on the first place.

Fellow success stories

Fellow success stories

On the other hand in return you will learn a lot, since the program is designed in such a manner that you will get a lot of exposure through the other fellows, which will be a mix of international students with similar passion and such ideas. There is no dearth of recognition also, Villgro has won a lot of awards and appreciation for coming up with such a foundation that instead becomes foundations for other organizations and hence the credibility about Villgro and its Fellowship program automatically follows.

In the end I would like to mention a line from their website…’Change starts with ideas…when ideas become reality, they transform lives’. So, if you have an idea which you believe can change a lot of lives…Villgro is the place to go.

For more info please check out these links about the fellowship:

150318-Fellowship Posts-Rachana

 

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul