In a system of direct democracy, as that of ancient Greece, the will of the state was formulated and expressed by the people themselves. In modern states, with enormous territory and vast population, it is physically impossible for the people to assemble together frequently and directly participate in making of laws. Modern democracy is, therefore, indirect and representative.
Democracy is described as the finest way of life provided it is practiced in the most desirable form. India is a vast nation with a huge population and a multitude of problems. The people are ignorant about the political value, electoral power and political structure.
Political parties are engaged in the ugly game of power politics. Democracy will flourish only in the society where the majority of the population is educated. The drafting of Constitutional and the Parliamentary system do not make democracy.
In India, Article 324 to 329 A of the Constitution defines elections. Going by this, Article 324 provides for the appointment of Election Commission to superintend, direct and control elections. The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election commissioner and such other Election commissioners as appointed by the President subject to the provisions of law made by the Parliament for the purpose [Article 324 (2)].
The function of Election Commission has a doubtless governing role for the impartial execution of the election process and an authority to conduct elections to Parliament, state legislature and to the office of the President and Vice- President.
According to Article 325, there shall be one electoral roll for every territorial constituency. No person shall be ineligible for inclusion in any such roll on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or any of them.
Though the Constitution provides for the establishment of an independent high level commission for the effective conduct of elections in India, the Representation of the People Act 1950 and 1951 form the principal enactments in this field.
The Registration of Electors Rules 1960 and the Conduct of Election Rules 1961 are supplementary to those two Acts. The Delimitation Act 1952, the Prevention of Disqualification Act 1952 and the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Act 1952 are the remarkable enactments governing elections in India.
India has been moving on the path of democracy since independence. The Indian democracy has faced trials time and again and continues to do so.
The first Election Commission was formed in 1950 and Sukumar Sen was appointed as the first Election Commissioner of India. The first election was held in 1951 with 489 constituencies and formed first Parliament in 1952.
The Election Commission has a great role in the execution of election process. During the period of election, courts cannot interfere in the process and functions of the Commission. Further, the EC can exercise powers similar to that of a civil court, if necessary.
Indian Parliament consists of Lok sabha, Rajya Sabha and the President. The Electoral College, which constitutes members of both the Houses of the Parliament and the members of the Legislative Assemblies, elects the President for a period of five years. Presently our Lok Sabha has 545 seats. Out of this, 543 members are elected directly by the people through direct voting process. The total number of nominated members of the Parliament is fourteen. Twelve members are nominated to the Rajya Sabha and remaining two (from Anglo-Indian community) to the Lok Sabha by the President.
Uttar Pradesh has the largest number of Lok sabha Seats (80). The North-East states like Mizoram, Nagaland
have one each. The outer Delhi
stands as highest voters’ area in India.
Today the mass media is strong enough to criticise and analyse the political situations as well as the election results. For achieving this, they are following advanced statistical methods like opinion poll and exit poll methods. Opinion poll is the systematic gathering of opinions of people on a public issue such as an election by interviewing a sample of the population with the assumption that their views mirror those of the entire population.
Exit poll, on other hand, is a special kind of opinion poll, which is conducted on Election Day at the exit gate of the polling booth. The basic purpose is to ask people who they voted for and to predict the result or possibility before the counting. The branch of science, which deals with election trends and predictions of election results based on statistical studies, is known as Psephology.
More developed countries have been adopting this advanced method. The freedom of press in a republic is considered as the measurement of the quality of democracy.
Democracy means equality, social justice, freedom and role of law. Our so-called democracies only preach these principles; they do not practice them.
Elections play a very impartial part in the democratic process. In India, with a large proportion of illiterate voters, the organisation of elections is a vital administrative task.
For the strength and stability of Indian democracy, each voter should exercise his right to vote wisely and with maturity of judgment. The electorate should have basic understanding of the electoral process and democratic values. The instrument of ballot, when wielded by an awakened electorate, is said to be more powerful than the bullet.