Does Our Vote Really count?
It is that time again. Animated discussions are taking place on streets, across drawing rooms, clubs, cafes et all. The topic is the same. Who will win the ensuing elections?  More importantly, whom should we vote for.
 
Many of those disgusted with our system express their displeasure by opting for none of the above (NOTA). Those who are still more disgruntled or disenchanted refuse to vote at all. Yet time and again, are conscience is pricked: you are being irresponsible, do your bit, be the change that you want to see and so on.
 
The deep awakening of our soul propels us into detailed analysis: who is likely to make India a 10 trillion economy by 20XX, which party is promising  decent jobs for our burgeoning youth, who is willing to take care of the farmers, who will ensure safety and empowerment of women. The list goes on and on.  Finally, our mind is made up. On the D-day we join scores of others in serpentine queues, cast our vote and return home satisfied that we have done all that we could to make India a better country.
 
Time to pause and think. Does our vote really count? 
 
Of course, it does; but only numerically.  
 
But not in intent and spirit? Simply because elections are not fought with clean money, ideologies are sacrificed at the altar of “must win” and lure of plump posts, horse trading is rampant. 
 
The developments in Karnataka over last several months is just one such example.
 
Busloads of legislators were ferried away and kept in captivity on more than one occassion lest they were poached. Hundreds of crores of taxpayers’ money was wasted, governance went into limbo. Yet no one in the government bothered. Each party claimed that the other party was trying to buy its legislators with bags full of money. 
 
The root cause of the problem is black money. Electoral bonds, introduced in 2017,   were supposed to be a game changer. In reality, it is a classic example of the cure being worse than the disease. The Election Commission had called it a retrograde step since any donation received by a political party through electoral bonds were taken out of the ambit of reporting under the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Transparency was given a quite burial.  
 
The biggest flaw of this instrument is what its votaries still perceive to be its biggest strength; that electoral bonds provides for complete white money donation. Just because it is routed through the banks is no guarantee that the money used is all kosher. If it were so, the Augusta Westland scam would have never happened. More than Rs350 crore allegedly paid as bribes was routed thru banks with the help of complex corporate structures. 
 
And not to forget the Zakir Naik case whose interests are considered to be inimical to the country’s interest. Did he not get more than Rs60 crore from more several countries over a period of three-four years. All this dirty money infiltrated our impregnable banking systems and no one was wiser. 
 
Crores of bank accounts were opened in a day thru JanDhan scheme. The know-your-customer (KYC) norms scrupulously followed otherwise were given a go by for the majority who were illiterates. While the social objective is laudable, the threat to the banking system with such initiatives, without a strong system of check and balances cannot be overlooked. 
 
It is as dangerous as handing a loaded gun to a child to play with. It is common knowledge how many of these accounts were misused during demonetisation. Earlier, there was a chance of getting caught every time black money changed hands. But once it permeates the banking system, it is rid of all sins once for all and can be used multiple times for nefarious activities; directly or indirectly. 
 
Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS)  and scores of others have demonstrated how easy it is to game the banking system. Loans can be raised even for non-existent or non-viable projects, funds raised can be diverted easily and some of them may even find their way to political parties via electoral bonds to ensure that the  supposed long arm  of kanoon never reaches them. 
 
State Bank of India (SBI) has reportedly sold electoral bonds worth Rs1,716 crore in January and March this year as against Rs1,056 crore of bonds sold in six months in 2018. Surprisingly the government, which came to power on the plank of good governance is now justifying the anonymity that electoral bonds provide. 
 
In the ongoing hearings before the Supreme Court, the attorney general has claimed that disclosures would place industrialists and corporates who wish to see a particular party in power at risk of being targeted for backing the “wrong horse”. In other words, giving unfair advantage and bending the rules for the donors is now being openly acknowledged. 
 
While introduction of electoral bonds could not escape attention, many back room maneuvers went unnoticed. Earlier, Section 182 of the Companies Act, 2013 limited political donations in a financial year to 7.5% of average net profits for the last three years.  However this limit was completely withdrawn vide amendment made by Section 154 of the Finance Act, 2017. Effectively, even loss making companies can now make political donations! 
 
The above two examples exemplify how futile our votes are despite our best intentions. Is the situation completely irreversible? The optimist in me refuses to believe so. Two simple changes can still bring the best out of even these ill-conceived legislations.
 
First and foremost; it is important to strike at the root of the problem. Holding the country to ransom by party hopping legislators must stop.  Laws should be amended so that no member of legislative assembly (MLA) or the Parliament (MP) can jump the ship more than once in a span of two years. Even if he does, his presence will not count for the strength of the party, which he joins. They will however be entitled to all the perks that they would otherwise enjoy. This will ensure stability. Political parties will be able to take long term view. Once this is done, exchange of money bags should reduce to a large extent. This suggestion should be immensely acceptable to our white khadi clad netas who profess to work only for the welfare of the people, claim to lead a spartan life and wear nationalism on their sleeve,
 
Secondly, political donations by companies must necessarily be approved by the shareholders, who must be provided full details of the proposed donation, amount to be donated to each of them, justification for donation etc. Each company’s website must also disclose these details for all the years since its inception. This will help to resurrect transparency.
 
The big question is whether these suggestions will fructify. Most unlikely is my hunch. Our helplessness and despondency is  perhaps  well captured  in an old Hindi film song: “Rasme ulfat ko nibhayein kaaise…..har taraf aag hai daman ko bachaein kaaise”…..and if I may add a dash of my own…….”Is desh me clean politics laayein, toh laayein kaaise”.
 
  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    COMMENTS

    Liju Philip

    8 months ago

    Corruption has been legalised by the chowkidar himself. While the bhakts are twisting and turning like snakes and speaking with forked tongues trying to hail the chowkidar as being the best thing since sliced bread. Chowkidar Hi Chor Hai.

    News channels partial, say 93% urban Indians
    Nine out of 10 urban citizens, mostly millennials, feel news channels are partial and favour one political party or the other, a poll by news app Inshorts said on Thursday.
     
    "Nearly 93 per cent of urban citizens think news channels are partial or favour political parties," said the poll.
     
    The poll saw participation of over 40,000 respondents from tier I and II urban communities in the 18-35 age group across the country.
     
    The Election Commission recently asked Doordarshan to desist from extending any "preferential or disproportionate" airtime coverage in favour of any party.
     
    Information and Broadcasting ministry secretary Amit Khare wrote to Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vampati to ensure full compliance of the model code of conduct guidelines.
     
    In his letter, Khare also asked Prasar Bharati to develop robust internal system to address concerns expressed by EC and suggested creation of a monitoring mechanism to check any oversight.
     
    He also wrote all the divisions of the national broadcaster should follow the instructions. Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) keep the EC informed about the time allotted to different political parties.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

     

  • User

    Electoral Bonds: Centre favours anonymity, but EC against
    New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that secrecy of information through electoral bonds is essential to curb black money in political funding.
     
    Making its submission in this regard to the apex court, the Centre justified why anonymity is a positive step in countering the flow of black money in the system.
     
    Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal in his submission said: "Electoral bonds are meant to eradicate black money in political funding...as we have no State funding of elections. Political parties get funds from supporters, affluent persons, etc. The funders all want their political party to come to power. But if their party does not, then there could be repurcurssions....so secrecy is required."
     
    The government informed the Supreme Court that many companies prefer anonymity for various reasons. For example, if a particular company funds a political party and it does not come power, the company could be punished by their own shareholders.
     
    The donations made through electoral bonds are actually from white money, the AG said, adding that if agencies are willing to ascertain the source of money, they can scrutinize it through banking channels.
     
    Though the government is in favour of anonymity in electoral bonds, the Election Commission of India (EC) has an opposite view, the EC's counsel said.
     
    "We are not against electoral bonds. We are only opposed to the anonymity associated with it", he said.
     
    The EC emphasized that it wants transparency in political funding, while the disclosure of the identity of the funders as well as the recipients of funding is essential for democracy.
     
    "People have the right to know about the antecedents of their representatives and the political party that candidate represents" said the ECI counsel.
     
    The hearing will continue later in the day.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    COMMENTS

    LALIT SHAH

    8 months ago

    Electrol bond's are one type of legalized corruption . Between Rulling party and Corporate's and other entities .

    So always Big chunk of electrol bond's will goes to party in power.

    Indian politicians are one kind of somalian pirate's . Nothing else . Huge paisa and power attract's people's in politics.

    One man politician need not be clean ? As power hungry person is more dengerous for a country like us.

    Today nobody serve without motive of money and power.

    Most of government work's cost 3 time to public . Contract issuer demand 100 % Kick Back .immideat contractor or supplier rise prices by 100 in to 300 . 100 his cost 100 party fund and 33% income tax = 300.

    Toilet ho Bus Stop ho ya airowdram.

    Without corruption nahi udhar.

    Check any Minister's MP MLA Corporators wealth how they grows !
    Nobody is clean in politics .

    India is becoming like Islamic countries. Islam khatre me hey Shun ke Muslims ka khoon garam ho jata Hey . Vaise hi Hindu Dharm khatre me Hey or Kiya hota hai sub jante Hey.

    Any religiously terrorism ki aur pehla kadam Bharat rakh chuka hey aisa mujhe lagata Hey.

    Jay Hind

    We are listening!

    Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
      Loading...
    Close

    To continue


    Please
    Sign Up or Sign In
    with

    Email
    Close

    To continue


    Please
    Sign Up or Sign In
    with

    Email

    BUY NOW

    online financial advisory
    Pathbreakers
    Pathbreakers 1 & Pathbreakers 2 contain deep insights, unknown facts and captivating events in the life of 51 top achievers, in their own words.
    online financia advisory
    The Scam
    24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
    Moneylife Online Magazine
    Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
    financial magazines online
    Stockletters in 3 Flavours
    Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
    financial magazines in india
    MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
    (Includes Moneylife Online Magazine)
    FREE: Your Complete Family Record Book
    Keep all the Personal and Financial Details of You & Your Family. In One Place So That`s Its Easy for Anyone to Find Anytime
    We promise not to share your email id with anyone