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Book review: Indian Parliamentary General Elections: Case for Electoral Reforms and Good Governance (2019) by Professor Bhagwan Dahiya and Dr Suprabha Dahiya
To justify good governance with electoral reforms in my beloved India as independent, non-violent ,democracy with integrity and amity, we need to understand, analyze and interpret the Indian Parliamentary General Elections which falls in the domain of the book by the learned scholars of Haryana.

A close perusal of the book  developed in eight chapters reveals  the data which records the details of the election results for all the winning and the runner-up candidates, in Parliamentary General Elections of 2009 and 2014. This data for each constituency include total electors, total votes polled, polling percentage, the winning and the runner-up candidates, along with their respective parties, percentage of votes of winner to total electors, percentage of polled votes of winner, and the percentage of winning margin to votes polled. The comprehensive analysis of  the data provided in the  book  impress upon the readers including the reviewer.

The central purpose of interrogating these data is to build a case for good governance and electoral reforms. In doing so, the concept of good governance & its indicators as well as the concept of corruption and its various forms are also introduced for easy comprehension.

The writers are highly thankful to Sh. Ashok Lavasa, Election Commissioner of India, for writing the foreword of the book.

 The key highlights of Parliamentary General Elections, 2014 reveals that the electors were highly unevenly distributed between all the 543 constituencies of India.   There were ten constituencies each having more than twenty lakh electors. In another 210 constituencies, the number of electors was between 16 lakh to 20 lakh. In 111 constituencies, the number of electors was between 15 lakhs to 16 lakhs. The remaining 212 constituencies had less than 15 lakhs electors.        Interestingly all the elected representatives of these constituencies, MPs, carried equal weightage in the Parliament, that is, the value of each MP's vote carries the same weight.

The number of total votes polled in all the constituencies was also highly unevenly distributed.

The polling percentage (valid votes) in the country was 66.21. While the highest poling percentage was 88.36 in Dhubri constituency, the lowest polling percentage of 25.86 was in Srinagar constituency. There were wide variations in polling percentage in various constituencies.

On an average 3,39,511 votes were polled to a winning candidate. But wide disparities existed in the winning candidates' votes. While the highest number of 8,63,358 votes were polled to the winner candidate of Jaipur constituency, the lowest 21,665 votes were polled to the winning candidate of Lakshadweep constituency. Only four winning candidates were poled more than 8 lakhs votes. In totality, the Parliament could get votes of only 31.26 per cent of total electors. The Parliament which represents the entire population of the country, was elected by just 47.22 per cent of the total votes polled in the country.

There were wide winning margins of the candidates. The average winning margin of the candidates was 1,55,586 votes. While the highest winning margin was 5,70,128 votes; the lowest was just 36 votes. In 107 constituencies, the winning margin was less than 50,000 votes only. In 50 constituencies the winning margin was less than 20,000 votes. This shows that even a marginal swing in the votes could have changed the composition of the Parliament. The choice of candidates might have had an impact in the voting pattern.

Regarding the percentage of winning margin to total votes polled, 24 constituencies had less than one percent winning margin. In case of 98 constituencies the winning margin was less than five per cent of the total votes polled. This again points out that even a marginal swing in the votes could have changed the composition of the Parliament. Choice of a candidate might have had a significant impact in voting pattern.

The entire analysis  by the learned writers reveals that democracy is strength as well as weakness. The weaknesses of Indian democracy are evident in terms of the low voting rate. To increase the voting rate, the policy implications include to encourage Indian youth to participate in democracy and governance as mandated in National Youth Policy 2014.

Democracy is being used for destroying democracy through protests of various kinds impacting the economy adversely.  We need to train the eyes not to shut for ignoring the bad things happening around us and learn the skills of analysing the data and draw policy implications. The politicians have to learn to behave.    The politicians need to think 'out of the box' solutions for the problems we are facing in India. 

The skills of a brilliant youth include understanding, analysing, interpreting and adopting alternative remedies for the problems prevailing in the society.  We need to learn to handle the people who are mishandling the political economy of India. 

To encourage youth for developing their interest in politics as a career, we have to motivate them for taking risk in the uncertain world of unemployment. The politicians have to be trained to become SMART(simple, moral, action oriented, responsive and transparent ) and SIMPLE( spiritual quotient development, intuition development, mental level development, physical development, love oneself attitude development and emotional quotient development)  with spiritual input as justified in the book 'Economics of Human Resource Development in India, published in 2011' for good governance of Indian economy.   

The book is an immensely useful possession for all the stakeholders of Indian democracy including politicians' in power and opposition. It deserves to be in the book shelf of institutional libraries and the libraries of the parliamentarians.

The learned authors deserves the credit of bringing out a high quality work with implications for 2019 elections which needed to be understood, analysed, interpreted by the stake holders. Of course, the book deserves to be translated in different Indian Languages.

*The reviewer is Vice Chancellor, Jagan Nath University, Jaipur (Rajasthan)

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