Learning from the Indian elections, despite Modi's win

Rather than appreciating and learning from India's elections, half of Pakistan is busy condemning the victory of BJP.

Alishae Khar May 18, 2014
Despite being upset about Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Modi Sarkar claiming undisputed victory in the Lok Sabha, I could not help but notice the immaculate election process that is being conducted by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

To hold an election process for an estimated 814 million voters over the span of five weeks is not only a daunting process but one that is easily subjected to chaos and anarchy. However, having followed the election process diligently, I was convinced that the election process was as peaceful as it could get, even with the BJP rally fiasco in Varanasi.

BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi (C) waves to supporters as he arrives to file his election nomination papers in Varanasi. Photo: AFP

However, the biggest hallmark of this election process is that, so far, it has been declared as free and fair as it gets. For someone who belongs to a South Asian democracy, the importance of the terminology ‘free and fair’ cannot be undermined. To consider that there are credible institutions in India that can charter such a process despite rampant issues of corruption is something that needs to be greatly appreciated. While Pakistan is still struggling to hold singular free and fair elections which are unanimously agreed upon by all parties and factions involved, India has moved long past this dilemma.

Everyone was out to vote In Bangalore to participate in Lok Sabha Elections. Photo: AFP

The current electorate process expanded over nine phases with an impressive voter turnout of 66 per cent. Not only was this turnout the greatest to be witnessed in history, each voting stage was meticulously planned through. With a total of 11 million government workers and over a million troops deployed during the balloting process, this program has been rightly dubbed as one of the largest human management projects in the world. What interested me the most was that there were 1.7 million electronic voting systems which were distributed nationwide to facilitate an unbiased electorate process.

the Lok Sabha election for the Nagaland parliamentary seat was web-casted to keep a tab on the voting process in 84 polling centres. Photo: AFP

The timing of this free and fair mantra could not have been more ironically juxtaposed with Imran Khan’s recent nine point ‘charter of demands.’ One of the most important demands put forward was to establish a bio-metric voting system for the next general elections. The importance of such a system is crucial for the Pakistani election conundrum which is always blamed for sabotage and rigging. India’s success at creating and using their bio-metric voting system has proved to be an effective tool for large democracies. If a population 10 times greater than our own could easily facilitate such a process, then for Pakistan this is no tough ordeal. Without such a system, rigging would be an inevitable and repetitive consequence that we will have to bear.

PTI held a protest at Teen Talwar, Karachi, against alleged rigging in elections. Photo: File

It is extremely unfortunate and disappointing that rather than appreciating and learning from this election process, half of Pakistan is busy condemning the victory of BJP, which Pakistan believes to be quite an extremist faction.

I, however, am more concerned about Pakistan’s future electoral process relative to its upcoming Indo-Pak relations. This incident has once again reminded me of the awkward moment of when I first crossed the Wagah border on foot and as soon as I crossed Pakistani domain, a big sign stood there mocking us as I walked past it saying ‘Welcome to India - World’s Largest Democracy’.

Alishae Khar A student of Mphil in Economics from Lahore School of Economics and is currently working on her thesis on Benazir Income Support Program. She is also working as a co-coordinator for student affairs on campus.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


alishae khar | 9 years ago | Reply I would like to clarify that the purpose of this article was not to condemn or question the mandate of the people of India in their selection of Modi as their designated Prime Minister. There is a fine difference between questioning the legitimacy of the event and expressing opinion/concern over it. My tone was of the latter rather than the former. However by focusing on this, many of you have digressed from the original idea presented in the write up which aimed to delineate a successful democratic process in the South Asian context. To say that Pakistan has no say in an international political development such as this, is a fallacy. In todays world where politics is no longer an domestic concern, but is a consequence of chain of events in the international political arena; anything that happens in the geo-political strata affects us, let alone a political development in our own neighborhood with which affects our regional stability, economic bilateral ties and foreign policy. I do sincerely apologize for confusing the bio-metric system with the electronic one. In Thank you all, who pointed out this mistake.
alishae khar | 9 years ago | Reply Modi has emerged from, and is supported by, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the hard line Hindu nationalist organization which has been criticized of committing sectarian violence in the past(such as 2008 Religious violence in Odisha and Babri Mosque demolition). This party is intimately associated with BJP as well. Modi is not only associated with the two most extremist factions of India, but was also involved in the Gujrat violence of 2002, where a 1000 Muslims were persecuted. Though the Supreme Court acquitted him of charges, but in 2005, Modi was denied the visa for USA on grounds of "particularly severe violations of religious freedom" (under the Bush Administration).This boycott was only lifted was only lifted earlier this year, when the US ambassador to India finally traveled to Gandhinagar, to meet its chief minister. Furthermore according to Michael Kugelman (Woodrow Wilson International) the only US government agency to be critical of Modi for is the US Commission on "International Religious Freedom" (which deal with minority rights in particular). Evidently, Muslims have a lot to worry about regarding Modi's win. I thought I would just flag this out to my Indian friends who have rid Modi of all blame and involvement in any sectarian violence or extremism.
gubradi Jo | 9 years ago This is not proof. This is baloney. Read and re-read what you have written. Where is the proof? You do not need to point out anything to your Indian friends, because I am sure you picked up this unadulterated garbage from Indian media which your Indian friends have already read. Modi or no Modi, muslims should be afraid to live in India. That's why Pakistan was created, isn't it?
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