How big booths end up denying voting to citizens
Voter turnout percentage reduces significantly when booth size increases beyond 1,600 voters. Even the counts of people, who vote in these booths, do not increase much with the size of booth

In the previous article (Read: Turn voters out and complain about poor voter turnout ), I argued that when the number of voters in a polling booth is higher than 1,320, then not all the voters in the booth can cast votes in the allotted polling hours. The chief electoral officers (CEOs) deny voting rights of citizens by design when they increase the booth size beyond a limit. This argument was based on logic. With further analysis, we have evidence.
After the Assembly Elections 2013, CEO of Karnataka, published Form-20 giving details of votes polled in each booth of the state. He also published the count of voters in each booth in another document. From these documents, I extracted voter counts and votes polled in 41,441 booths. (CEO-KA has later removed these documents from his website. Document properties show the date of creation as 23 May 2013.)
We find a clear correlation between decline of voter turnout percentage and polling booth size whereas the number of people who vote does not increase beyond a count showing that the booths have reached their capacity.
The table below gives the booth sizes in different ranges, number of booths in that category and turnout in number and turnout % in them. Because a larger % of big booths are in Bangalore, I have given the counts for Bangalore in separate columns. 

The table above and bar graph below clearly show decline in voter turnout percentage, when the size of booth crosses 1,400 voters. When the size crosses 1,600 voters, the decline is even sharper. Whereas the turnout percentage in Bangalore is lower till the booth size is about 1,600 voters, for booths larger than that, the figures are close to those of Karnataka as a whole.

Whereas the voter turnout percentage reduces significantly when the booth size increases beyond 1,600 voters, the counts of people who vote in these booths do not increase much with the size of booth. No correlation of votes polled and booth-size beyond a size indicates that booth’s capacity and not voter apathy reduces voter turnout percentage. Bar graph below helps in visualising this reality too.

Other than some increase at the tail-end, maximum number of voters are found in booths whose sizes are between 1200 and 1400. When the size increases, voters may be de-motivated thinking of possible long queues. This is an assumption based on the data. Surveys with this hypotheses may give better insights.
When we talk of the need for electoral reforms and voter apathy, our priorities are wrong. The CEOs should first adhere to the rules and guidelines of Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Commission should ensure that they do so. Reforms before that would be like paint on a rusty surface, allowing the rust to eat the metal inside while exhibiting shine outside. 
(Commander (Retd) PG Bhatt is a retired naval officer, an educationist and a social worker.) 





2 years ago

Good work Mr.Bhat,

As the number of voters in a booth increases it puts the weak, not so healthy and older people at a disadvantage as they may not be in a physical condition to wait for long hours. Hence it automatically reduces voting percentage.

If election commission can make use of the data that you mined and uses logical approach, may be they will be able to find the optimal number of voters for a booth to increase the voting percentage.


PG Bhat

In Reply to CHILUKURI K R L RAO 2 years ago

Thanks, Mr. Rao. Please let me know if anyone has ideas to explore using the published public data by ECI and various CEOs. If we mmet the authorities with hard data, we may succeed.


In Reply to PG Bhat 2 years ago

You are welcome Mr.Bhat. Yours is a good idea and need to be communicated to the election commission. That is what we can do.

I believe there are good people in the system and if we can make such ideas reach those people then we might get a chance to better the system.

Here is a link that contains all the email ID of the people manning the election commission.

Request you to send your article to all these email IDs so that we can improve the odds of reaching those good people that matter in the system.

Wish Moneylife too pitches in.

Is demographic dividend turning into disaster for India?

A surging population that has the potential to make India an economic superpower is now becoming a cause of concern, especially after phased high economic growth achieved very little on employment front. Even most of the jobs available are not quality ones and are only subsistence level jobs

Gone are the days when Malthusian theory used to dominate discussion on population growth and its negative impact. The pessimism prorated by Malthus has hardly any buyers now.  Demographic dividend is the new buzzword. It is believed that increasing population can be capitalised for growth. There are dual benefits of increasing population, one that it provides human resource for production process and two, the same resource is also the consumer, which creates effective demand that in turn, acts as a determinant of consumption and growth. India is one of the few countries in the world where increasing population and its potential to generate demographic dividend are being debated all across.

So what is so great about demographics in India that creates the potential for capitalising on this aspect? Here are some interesting aspects. In India, a third of the population is under 15, more than half under 24; every third person in an Indian city today is between 15 and 32; the median age in India is 27. By 2020, India is set to become the world’s youngest country with 64% of its population in the working age group. India and its growing economy an unprecedented edge that economists believe could add a significant 2% to the GDP growth rate. Based on the experience of relatively advanced economies, it is generally accepted that demographic dividend can contribute to significantly higher economic growth rates provided opportunities matching with the requirements of the economy and aspirations of new entrants in the labour force are generated. Good enough data to show that in terms of growth potential, this population provides an opportunity for growth in the country.

But the same population, which has the potential to generate demographic dividend, can also become disaster if not utilized properly. Unfortunately, this is the fear that has started dominating discussion in India recently. India seems to be at a crossroad, where demographic dividend has the potential to become demographic disaster. A surging population which has the potential to make India into an economic superpower is now becoming a cause of concern, especially after phased high economic growth has achieved very little on employment front. Why is it that the threat of demographic disaster has started looming large over India economy? There are a couple of factors which are responsible for this. Let us have a look at them.
The first and the most worrying factor for the economy has been the fall in employment elasticity of growth. This is a critical factor in identifying how many jobs are getting created with each percentage increase in the growth in the Indian economy. Unfortunately, the development of this front is extremely worrying. Employment elasticity of growth has been falling sharply in India. While it was 0.44 in the period 1999-2000 to 2004-05, it went down to 0.01 in the period 2004-05 to 2009-10. This means that we are experiencing an almost job less growth in the country. Additional employment generation is not happening at the desired pace. Employment growth was just 0.5% per annum from 2004-05 to 2011-12, the period that saw the highest growth of GDP by 8.5% per annum. Lack of employment opportunity is a big bottleneck for gaining benefits from changing demographics in the country. The power of youth needs to be used properly for productive purpose. If youth in the country do not get employment opportunity, they continue to remain consumers.

Another cause of worry is the nature of employment opportunity available in the country.  Majority of the people in the country remain self-employed and the second highest contribution in employment comes in form of causal workers.

Basically quality of employment generation is not very good. Another interesting finding is form of employability of the people joining the rank of employable resources. Majority of Indian youth are not employable because of the quality of education imparted in schools and colleges. With more people joining the “Q” of educated resource in the years to come, this is going to be a big issue for the country.

The third Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey 2012-13 conducted by Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment in 2013 brings some startling facts about the unemployment scenario among educated persons in India which are as follows:
Every 1 person out of 3 persons who is holding a degree in graduation and above, is found to be unemployed based on the survey results under the usual principal status approach for the age group 15-29 years.

In rural areas the unemployment rate among graduates and above for the age group 15-29 years is estimated to be 36.6% whereas in urban areas the same is 26.5%.

Surprisingly the unemployment rate among the persons who can't read and write any language or are considered as 'not literate' as per the survey is lowest with 3.7% for the age group 15-29 years at All India level.

The current trend of unemployment among educated persons is indeed a cause of concern and raises a serious question mark on the benefits of demographic dividend. In many cases, the employment provided by the state is just subsistence level employment, which is meant to ensure that a person remains out of clutches of poverty or leads a sub-standard life. For educated people such kind of employment opportunity will not suffice.

While there are challenges on human resource front, there are also issues at economy level. We are an economy where agriculture contributes marginally to the gross domestic product (GDP) but employs more than 50% of human resource. Manufacturing has failed to take off broadly in the country, which has huge potential of employment generation.  We need to increase the share of manufacturing in GDP. It's currently 16% — compared to South East Asian countries like China, Korea and Indonesia, where the share is 40%-50% of GDP. In our case, we are importers of manufactured goods and within country production is limited. The service sector contributes significantly to the economy but has limited employment potential. The service sector provides only 26% employment but contributes 58% of GDP.

Looking at these aspects there is a danger of demographic dividend getting converted into disaster. The population in the country continues to surge and work force is increasing but employment opportunity is not increasing proportionately. Most of the jobs are not quality jobs and only subsistence level jobs.

So what needs to be done? The answer is very difficult to provide. However, three-pronged approach needs to be adopted. One we should change the education system to ensure that it gets helps in creating skills which add to the employment potential. There is a need to promote manufacturing at a large scale and also identify areas which have high employment generation potential. Promoting MSME sector to generate meaningful employment will be a great idea. There is a need to promote manufacturing to harness low cost benefit in the areas, which India has natural advantage. If IT can generate substantial employment, so can manufacturing. Manufacturing can be the  real contributor in employment growth in the years to come.

Last but not the least, we need to formulate policy in order to move away from our approach of subsistence level employment. Also the informal sector which generates significant level employment needs to have policy benefits which will provide critical supports which are available to the workers in the organised sector such as health care and bare minimum social security.

(Vivek Sharma has worked for 17 years in the stock market, debt market and banking. He is a post graduate in Economics and MBA in Finance. He writes on personal finance and economics and is invited as an expert on personal finance shows.)




2 years ago

Demographic Dividend is a big joke...!! A country where most of the girls are still married off before 18 and they become mother of 2-4 kids by 30, a country where more than 60% of the people do not have access to toilets and where rapes happen every day (obviously by BOYS and MEN)... Can we expect development in such a country..?? The root system needs to be changed in India if it wants to reap the youth power...!! India should adopt NO CHILD POLICY to absorb the already ballooning population first....

shadi katyal

2 years ago

The article should be an eye opener for future of India but anyone cares. country is too busy in religious politics than her progress. We have wasted 67 years of go and stop development. While the world has more faith in our development we have kept moving goal post further and further.
Instead of amending our labour and union rules we have created more deindustrialization and thus have more lost days and strikes and destruction by unions that we have driven investments away. We are our worst enemies as we are penny wise and pound foolish. Our tax laws and greed has no bounds.
We started on a wrong foot by adopting Russian modal and look where we both are.
We created more bureaucracy and Red tape and Road blocks for investments that it came to be called PERMIT RAJ.
we drove in this age of chips INTEL because they will not pay any bribe to set up a plant. There are many such plans which
went to other nations.
So we are labour rich and even B.Desh kicked our shins with more than 2000 garment factories. We cannot see the elephant in the room as we are too busy with Quota system.
Show me a nation which has created wealth and middle class with Service Industry???Why are our brains work with coolie mentality and look around so called thousand of IIT IIM graduates, are they able to cope with modern technologies, no because majority is just dot connectors. Where are the innovations and inventions???
The nation has been misled in name of socialism and what not to disastrous consequences but beat goes on.
Show me a nation which has developed in name of religion which plays more part than developments.
We burn more subsidized Diesel for generators everyday but are unable to provide power as it is another PSU but shortage of power continues. Sorry to say but are we genetically poor top think of future and can talk of anti colonialism and blame the rest of the world of our own failures.
Will our manpower be able to earn even abroad with such poor education and thinking. We carry too much baggage when we go abroad and are disliked because of our arrogance and ignorance. We play political games and try to win favors which is a negative in West.
We could learn from China experiment but no we have to reinvent wheel and continue to live in poverty and will become sooner a laughing stock of the world. We had emerging market economy but now we have a fragile one. Think the difference.
We must learn basic facts of life like working ethics, discipline and productivity for quality products. We must leave SUB CHALTA HAI BHAI behind.

Pulse Beat
Medical developments from around the world

Your Brain before You Are Born!
Seth Blackshaw, of Johns Hopkins University neuroscience department, has been working on the nature of the ‘supra-chiasmic nucleus’ (SCN) in the brain and thinks that this tiny group of cells in the brain controls all that we do—from sleeping, waking, thinking, acting, sexual act, etc,—which seems to have been programmed even before we are born. If this is proved right, there might be forensic problems. The rape accused could claim that he did not do it volitionally but it was timed into his SCN long before he was born! Like the killer gene that the scientists discovered in that infamous tiger, Balkis, who killed its own keeper. The zoo got exonerated by the court because of the gene. The poor wife of the zoo-keeper did not get any compensation. 
This shows how science today is practised in a very reductionist way. What one cell, or a group of cells, does might not be seen in a whole organism. Luckily, this researcher had also found out that even a single-celled organism has these cells in its cell wall. I call this the cell memBrain in human beings. We were also single-celled at one time and have now become a 100-trillion cell colony of such human beings. Let us not waste our money on science that does not have any bearing on whole-person healing. Many of these publications are designed to get promotions for salaried scientists. 
Global Warming: A Mega Fraud?
“It appears that news media and some pro-environmental organizations have the tendency to accentuate or even exaggerate the damage caused by climate change. This article provides a rationale for this tendency by using a modified International Environmental Agreement (IEA) model with asymmetric information. We find that the information manipulation has an instrumental value, as it ex-post induces more countries to participate in an IEA, which will eventually enhance global welfare. From the ex-ante perspective, however, the impact that manipulating information has on the level of participation in an IEA and on welfare is ambiguous.” This is the summary of a recent paper. The summary says that even telling a lie has a positive intention in science!
The two professors, Fuhai Hong and Xiaojian Zhao, are assistant professors of economics. They have published the paper in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, a peer-reviewed journal. They have admitted to lying by scientists on climate change, to advance an extremist environmental agenda. This has been going on for a long time but has been admitted officially only now. This is shocking, in science. If one cares to read a small book Science without Sense by Steven Milloy published by Cato Institute in Washington DC, one will not be shocked as it is common practice. 
The late Stanford University professor Stephen Schneider wrote, in 1989: “So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’, which we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”
New Heart Drugs
National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), UK, has concluded that evidence related to the efficacy of newer anti-angina drugs was insufficient. It has advised that new drugs, other than beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and short-acting oral nitrates, cannot be recommended. Some people use aspirin in small doses, but the jury is still out on that. NICE also concluded that evidence was insufficient to make a firm recommendation about the choice of second-line anti-angina medicines. 


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