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

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

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".

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They

Haven't done a good deed, inner soul is cursing me as sinner: Aurangzeb's last 'will'

Counterview Desk The Tomb of Aurangzeb, the last of the strong Mughal emperors, located in Khuldabad, Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, has this epitaph inscribed on it: "Az tila o nuqreh gar saazand gumbad aghniyaa! Bar mazaar e maa ghareebaan gumbad e gardun bas ast" (the rich may well construct domes of gold and silver on their graves. For the poor folks like me, the sky is enough to shelter my grave).