On Thursday, India — the world’s largest democracy — wrapped up the first stage of its month-long general elections that will choose a new parliament to be seated later this spring.
There are more than 800,000 polling stations in India, and over 700 million eligible voters. One of those voters, 23-year-old blogger Smriti Srivastava, shares images from her polling station in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh:
Smriti also wrote about her voting experience and of the range of people she encountered at the polls:
It is election time and I just returned after casting my vote. This was the first time I voted and certainly isn’t going to be my last. It was an amazing experience though, standing there in the queue and looking at all the faces, young and old…rich and poor. Just there to exercise their franchise… even after knowing that it may or may not make a difference… Yet they were all there.
I stay in a very “posh” colony, with beautiful houses and people with a lot of money. The area around it is completely opposite. It consists of this small belt called THE YAPRAL VILLAGE. That is where most of our household helpers and workers for petty jobs reside. Its like two sides of the same coin.
It was a great feeling standing between people of two completely different backgrounds. A housewife was jovially talking to her house-maid, and asking her if she needs water, and if she is casting her vote for the “RIGHT CANDIDATE”…whoever that was.
The lines for males and females was separate, and no one seemed to grumble about the heat. I saw a lot of smiling faces. Maybe they hope for change and vote with the belief that their votes matter. These were some of the daily wage hourly paid labourers, who left their work for one day and came to stand in the queue and losing a few precious hours of earnings. Yet they came to vote.
It may be flawed, it may be rigged, but it matters to me that I did what I was supposed to do. I stood in line with people of various ages, speaking various languages, having various dreams… doing one single thing. Exercising their right.
Blogger “Souju” writes from the city of Hyderabad, praising the turnout and hoping for improved voting technology:
What a fun it has been to cast my vote today. After debates, arguments and frustration on politics and our political leaders finally India started voting today. I was amazed to see the turn out. People were in long queues. I saw my old friends in the queue. Finally, it was my turn to exercise my right and of course, duty. Polling agents and officers were very cool and helpful. I cast my vote and came out. It was a great feeling.
Hopefully, next time we will have bio-metric cards for elections and the confusion of voters is lessened. When other developed nations use our IT professionals’ knowledge to build an effective electoral system for their elections why are we still lagging behind – only our next Indian Govt. who gets elected have answers for it.
Another blogger, “Arby K,” chose not to vote, protesting India’s electoral system:
When the next national elections come, in five years (hopefully) from now, these problems will be as true and valid as they are now. The political parties that form the legislature have a sufficient voter base to ensure their long term survival. Given the fractured nature of verdicts, it is likely that small parties will play a key role in government formation and provide good returns to their voters. However, at a national level this leads to uncertainty and instability.
These problems have now been ingrained into the current electoral system and it is unlikely that we will have a stable and confident government. EVER.
In the long run, this augurs badly for the nation – to have unstable governments and indecisive leadership follow one after the other. It may seem okay for the next five years. But will you be okay with it for the next 20-30 years when you or your kids will have to bear the heat, as we compete with the rest of the world?
Should I compromise on my long term future by procrastinating electoral reform to make the Indian democracy effective?
By choosing to vote, I will be endorsing the current system of elections. I will be settling to meet my short term objectives sacrificing the long term ones.
So, I choose not to endorse an electoral system which brings unstable governments, indecisive leadership and regional fragmentation of the nation.
I choose not to vote, till a day where we can have stable, decisive and a united government.
Read about the history of Indian elections and the growing influence of its smaller parties: Small parties are big players in India’s upcoming elections