Public dissatisfaction breeds cynicism with democracy: Vice President

Budapest, Oct 17 (IANS) Vice President M. Hamid Ansari on Monday said that while the public participation in the electoral exercise has improved in India, public dissatisfaction with the functioning of elected bodies is breeding “cynicism”.

“Record shows that while the public participation in the electoral exercise has noticeably improved, public dissatisfaction from the functioning of elected bodies is breeding cynicism with the democratic process itself. The imperative for a corrective is evident to reinforce public confidence in the ability of the system to deliver, as intended,” Ansari said.

Ansari, while delivering a lecture on ‘Indian Democracy: Achievements and Challenges’ at the Corvinus University here in Hungary, said it is evident that the quest for improvements will continue with the growth of public awareness of the electoral process.

Dwelling at length on various facets of Indian democracy and elections, the Vice President observed that the democratic process has brought about a “shift of political power from the middle and higher castes and classes of urban society to backward classes”.

These sections, he said, “are now the politically most influential ones” in the country.

“They have won reservations for themselves in legislatures and government services as were accorded to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes after independence through Constitutional provisions,” he said.

“There are few examples in recent history of such a conspicuous shift of political power, involving such a huge mass of population, taking place in such a short period of time almost without any violence and in a democratic way,” he said, adding this was one example of the “miracles that democracy can create”.

“India is unquestionably the world’s largest democracy,” he said, adding its singular merit “lies in its success in providing space for political contestation and an opportunity for the articulation of a variety of claims”.

“This has facilitated accommodation of group and regional demands in a complex, quasi-federal, polity. Our people at all levels of society have imbibed the democratic process enthusiastically and, through amendments to the Constitution in 1992 extended it to municipalities and village councils or Panchayats,” Ansari pointed out.

Referring to the Indian election system, which is based on the First-Past-The-Post system, the Vice President said in the 2014 general election, only 117 of the 539 winning candidates in the House of the People secured 50 per cent or more of the votes cast.

“This in the context of the overall national voting percentage of 66.4 per cent makes evident the actual representativeness of the elected Member of Parliament,” he said.

Ansari also said that the FPTP system has the merit of being “uncomplicated since it uses single-member districts and candidate-centred voting and gives to voters a clear choice between candidates and parties”.

Corvinus University Rector Andras Lanczi, the faculty members and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

–IANS

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