Vote Buying: The Destruction of Democracy at Work
Democracy is derived from the Greek words demos, meaning people, and kratia meaning rule. In the slums of Chennai, however, the representation of people is a façade. When sustenance is the main focus of one’s life, elections simply become a method for survival. The upcoming elections in India has begun opening eyes to the truth about voting.
For the majority of the population, politicians in India spend large amounts of money on welfare programs for people in the desolate areas of big cities. The central problem is that these measures only treat the symptoms of poverty in slums rather than the actual issue at hand.
A 2012 case study reveals that these benefits are usually provided in the form of short term programs that involve thing such as the distribution of free televisions rather than construction of schools, wells, etc. Post-election season the same corrupt politicians return to office and do close to nothing for the slum population.
In regional analyses of slum development initiatives in Mumbai, a fraction over 13 percent of approved projects have been successfully completed over the past 13 years. As appalling as this number is, it only becomes exponentially worse. Many residents are forced into a nomadic lifestyle, periodically uprooted from their makeshift homes in the most downtrodden areas of the city.
Elango, a 40 year old slum dweller near Besant Nagar beach, explains how he can “deliver 12 votes” from his immediate family to the local politician. In return for this, he is given Rs. 500, a bottle of brandy and a bowl of biryani. Elango knows that much of this money is swindled from the assets that are supposed to be given to him, yet he does not care. The lack of basic necessities, which much of the developed world takes for granted, shows the level of desperation people in his condition are driven to.
Due to the political advantages the easily swayed population below the poverty line possesses, politicians systematically turn to them for easy votes. This horrendous destruction of the most fundamental democratic ideals cannot be prevented if there is not a crackdown on voter fraud by the higher-up officials. Empirically, these administrators’ act of turning a blind eye towards the purchasing of these votes is killing any honest representation in the largest democracy in the world, something that must change for India’s positive political progression into the future.[Image Attribute:Photo Credit: Al Jazeera English via Compfight cc]