Last week, voters delivered an unequivocal mandate in India’s sixteenth general election. It was the first time any single political party had won a clear majority in 30 years—the Bharatiya Janata Party, led by its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, swept up 282 seats, with an additional 52 for its allies, from a total of 543.
As India enters its last phase of polling, here’s a look at the machine that empowers the world’s largest democratic exercise. Over 1.8 million electronic voting machines (EVMs), each an instrument the size of a keyboard, are treacherously transported across forest terrain, deserts and waterways so that each of India’s 814.5 million eligible voters can exercise their right to elect 543 members to parliament.
The north-central states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar went to polls on April 30, the sixth phase of the Indian election. These states are extremely important politically since together, they claim 120 seats in the Lok Sabha, the Lower house of the Indian Parliament. Uttar Pradesh has claim to 80 seats while Bihar has claim to 40. In totality, this constitutes nearly one-fourth of the total number of parliamentary seats at the Lower House of the Indian Parliament.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a political party that crusades against corruption, is India’s youngest national party. As 814.5 million eligible Indian voters head to polling booths, it remains to be seen whether it can put up a fight against the ruling Indian National Congress (INC) and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Context: Corruption and Public Outrage
The world’s largest democratic exercise began this week, with the north-east states of Assam and Tripura. As the polling continues in nine phases, here’s a look at the history of women’s political participation for each of the states. The last blog dated 07 April 2014, made a quick run-through for women’s engagement in the electoral process for last two general elections in Assam and Tripura, this blog focuses on the other states of North-east India.
Only 11% of elected representatives to India’s Lower House are women. The Inter-Parliamentary Union, an independent international agency, ranks India 108th among 188 member countries for political participation of women.
Over the next five weeks, as 814.5 million Indians cast their votes to elect the 16th Lok Sabha, Columbia Global Centers | South Asia will provide a glimpse of women’s participation in the electoral process.
“Any fool can know, the point is to understand”
-- Albert Einstein