Skip to main content

2019 polls: India's free for all vs Singapore's state controlled campaign, style, content

By Atanu Roy*
In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect do mention about a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from the inability of people to recognize their lack of ability.
In simple words "people who are incompetent are too incompetent to realise, how incompetent they are".
We Indians, resident of Singapore, are keenly following the Indian election campaigns and happenings, in the media and observing how this Dunning–Kruger effect, is being manifested in its crudest form, and has thrust the election of the 'largest democracy' in a sorry state.
Speeches after speeches, rallies after rallies, the posturing of the political leaders, in whom 900 millions electorates have put their hopes, are distinguished by a spectacular lack of emphasis on the burning issues of the electorate.
In fact, listening to the election speeches underway in the Indian news channels, an outsider might get the impression that India is singularly lacking in any problem. The only problem it seems, is that political leaders cannot get along with other opponents.
There is no sign of introspection, no serious attempt to hunt out the root cause of farmers’ distress and suicides, a climbing rate of unemployment, crumbling urban infrastructure, unchecked air pollution across cities, some of which is among the highest in the world, growing economic divide, an exploding population, the state of secular health, women’s welfare and safety.
Hate speeches are everywhere, at all political party levels. Off late, whipping up jingoistic passion, seems an easy way to win over electorates.
Film personalities so long sitting on the fence are joining the queue for election tickets in the last hour of filing nomination.
Narcissism is the common ailment of all parties, in power or not in power.
Humility has taken a back seat, question arises, why is it that some leaders are carrying with them an intense hate and arrogance that creates a corrosive impact on not just their opponents, but also on those who expect a decent society
The necessary condition for being humble is to respect differences and dissent, and tolerate plurality of opinion. We expect a political culture, of engaging in robust debate on issues that matter more to the people than to the leaders. We don't expect spats, but expect a true political discourse.
The seven phases election is now in the last phase, the voting percentage is encouraging in most of the states, but along with this comes the news and dismal pictures of poll violence, and booth captures, in some states like West Bengal, in spite of heavy presence of Central Security Force.
Now let's have a quick look to the Singapore election process and controls exercised in structured transparent framework.
In 2015 Singapore Parliamentary Election, out of 89 seats, the People's Action Party (PAP) contested all and won 83, with the other 6 seats won by The Workers' Party of Singapore (WP). Voter turnout was 93.56%.
Casting vote is mandatory in Singapore, and there is no NOTA (none of the above) option. Voting still happens through ballot papers, unlike Indian EVM.
Its interesting to note on how the election campaign takes place. The Singapore Police Force publishes a list of sites available for electoral meetings, and election rallies can be held during the campaigning period of around 8 days in only these notified locations. All rallies are held between 7 pm and 10 pm, and lunchtime rallies are held between 12 pm and 2 pm.
Political parties fielding at least six candidates are allocated airtime for two pre-recorded party political broadcasts in radio and television, one on the day following nomination day and the other on cooling-off day. The amount of airtime granted depends on the number of candidates each party is fielding.
Is there a limit on campaign cost? Yes, the maximum amount which a candidate or his or her election agent can pay or incur for an election campaign is SGD 4.00 for each electorate.
Election campaigning styles and contents are also controlled rigidly in a pro-active manner.
Candidates should conduct election campaigning in a responsible and dignified manner that is appropriate, to the seriousness of the election process.
They should steer away from negative campaigning practices based on hate and denigration of opposing candidates, and should not make false statements that allege corruption or commission of criminal offences, or statements that may cause racial or religious tensions or affect social cohesion. Egregious acts of negative campaigning could also be in breach of the law.
Every duly nominated candidate is required to declare to the Returning Officer the particulars of every Internet election advertising platform (e.g. podcasts, video casts, blogs and social networking sites like Facebook) on which election advertising is or will be published by or on his behalf during the campaign period.
The display of posters and banners advertising for a candidate or group of candidates during the campaign period must comply with the conditions listed in the Returning Officer’s permit for such display of posters and banners. No person is allowed to display or cause to be displayed in any public place election posters and banners without authorisation by the Returning Officer.
A copy of each of the posters and banners must be lodged with the Returning Officer before they are displayed. All posters and banners displayed must bear the official stamp issued by the Returning Officer.
Posters and banners must be removed within the period stated in the permit after the polling day and the failure to do so is an offence.
Other permitted campaigning activities are restricted to conducting house-to-house visits, food court visits, and distributing pamphlets.
We don't see any fake news, we don't hear any hate speech, poll violence and booth capture if beyond imagination and never happened since the birth of Singapore in 1965.
It may not be fair to compare point-to-point of election process of a large country like India with 900 million electorates, with a city-state like Singapore with 2.5 million voters, but if we get carried away by mere numbers and size, we will miss the essence on how election is held in a 'decent' society.
Let's focus on the essence and governance, and we have a lot to learn, for our own good and follow these in India for the sake of fairness.
---
*Chartered Accountant based in Singapore, regular contributor to "Straits Times" and "Today" published from Singapore

Comments

TRENDING

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.