New Delhi: Imagine voters having mobile phones using a secured and an authentic app to vote for the candidate of their choice in their constituency!
This is what former President A P J Abdul Kalam visualises for implementing a transparent system for elections in the country in his new book “A Manifesto for Change”.
In this book, which is a sequel to “India 2020”, Kalam, writing with co-author V Ponraj, examines the requirements of India to become a developed country by 2020. “A Manifesto for Change”, published by HarperCollins India, is the result of five years of Kalam's research on our parliamentary system.
He says a new, independent Lokpal bill (not in the present form) empowering an independent CVC, independent CBI, and independent special court with a checks and balance mechanism built-in to deal with corruption cases with constitutional authority status similar to that of the Election Commission are the need of the hour.
Advocating for E-elections, the country's 11th President writes, “I visualise an election scenario in which a candidate files his nomination from a particular constituency.
Immediately, the election officer verifies his or her authenticity using the national citizen ID (UIDAI/National Population Register ID/any other citizen ID) database.
“His or her civic status is reflected by the crime record with the police. His property record comes from the land authority; income and wealth sources from the income tax department; education credentials from university records; employment record from various employers; credit history from various credit institutions like banks; and legal records from the judicial system.”
All these details will then automatically show up on the election officer's computer screen within a few minutes, thanks to an e-governance software which scans state and central government directories, Kalam says.
“The election officer immediately decides on the candidate's eligibility, and the election process starts.
During the election, voters having mobile phone with their national ID can use a secured and authentic election mobile app to vote for the candidate of their choice in their constituency, besides the option of going to a polling booth,” he suggests.
He then poses a series of questions.
“Is such a system possible? If so, when will it turn to reality? Will the political parties believe in such an advanced system? Will the bureaucrats allow it to be implemented?” He feels as far as the technology goes, this is feasible.
“It is for the leadership to have the courage to implement such a transparent system for elections, which will attract 100 per cent voting and reduce the pitfalls in the election system. Also, this would only be a starting point.
We would need to replicate such systems across the board,” he claims. “Can we provide good governance to our one billion people? Can such governance speed up the delivery system? Can it differentiate between genuine and spurious transactions?
Can it ensure immediate action in genuine cases such that all standards of quality on a checklist are met? Can the cost be affordable for our nation? If we implement such a system, I will call it a true e-governance system,” he writes. He also asks politicians to leave behind politics of antagonism and disruption.
He says during the last six decades of our parliamentary democracy, it is the political leadership that has made this country great through its visionary politics.
In the chapter, “Manifesto for State Assemblies”, Kalam analyses the performance of the government in all the big and small states and says it depends on the leadership provided by the chief minister.
“If he or she has a vision for the state, with able ministers and with the help of right bureaucrats to implement change, the state can get on to the fast track of growth.
Whichever states are blessed with such leadership have shown enormous achievements in attracting investment, improving energy and road infrastructure, providing easy access to government services, better healthcare, reducing crime and other indicators of development,” the book says.
Kalam, however, says people not only look at the extent of development to re-elect a government but also give weightage to how easily accessible political leaders are in at least hearing their grievances.
“They expect minimum level of transparency in the administration, and expect a high level of integrity,” he says.