Make voting compulsory, says Hamid Ansari

Hamid Ansari

Vice President M Hamid Ansari has called for electoral reforms, including compulsory voting and proportional representation in legislatures representing all sections of society.

"To give greater meaning to representative democracy, we must come out with electoral reforms," he said at an interaction with students and faculty of National Institute of Advanced Studies last evening.

A candidate wins with just 25 per cent of total votes polled in his constituency. He does not represent the majority. Hence it is essential to bring about three changes in the electoral system, Ansari said.

The High Power Committee on electoral reforms is considering some of them. Voting should be made compulsory and the winning candidate should win only if he polls more than 50 per cent votes. There should be proportional representation in the legislature, representing all sections of society.

He said when India started its democratic journey there were core values with no disagreements, and there was insight and foresight during parliamentary debates.

"I feel today we are getting lost. The meeting of minds has not taken place, vital questions are not being addressed sufficiently. If this continues we will get into avoidable trouble. How do we get demographic dividends? Parliament and State Assemblies are becoming dysfunctional," Ansari observed.

"In democracy there is right to agitation and a right to debate. But there is designated platform for both. If there is interchange between the platforms, there is chaos. Without meaningful debates, the government takes decision in a hurry without sufficient information. They are pulled down by courts, as drafting is done in haste," he said.

Ansari said the country has evolved efficient policies and innovative ideas, but they do not transform into implementable solutions.

"The problem lies in our structure of governance. Administrative structure is inflexible and working at cross purposes. We need to be receptive towards divergent opinions. The civil society itself is becoming very intolerant. Are we investing enough for social cohesion? We need a frame of mind with wider circle of acceptance," he said.

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