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

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canals, work for 13,889 km ha…

US Air Force expert smells regional security threat following Chandrayaan mission

Counterview Desk
A United States Air Force expert, writing on India’s Chandrayaan -2 mission, has expressed the apprehension that Indian moon probe’s “failure” won’t stop an Asian space race that “threatens regional security.” Affiliated with the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Wendy Whitman Cobb, who is Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, believes like other space powers, India may be “seeking to improve its technology”, but advances can “also bring greater security concerns.”
Currently, admits Cobb, “These efforts have been primarily civilian and peaceful in nature.” However, India’s turn toward the military uses of space, so much so that lately it has been developing its own military satellites providing services such as remote sensing, tracking and communications “with greater frequency” has begun to “concern” the neighbours.
In her disclosure statement to an article published in the e-journal “The Conversation” Cobb, however, states that whatever…

South Gujarat wastewater carrying pipeline damaged, 'harming' farmlands

The pipeline carrying industrial wastewater to the Gulf of Khambhat from Jhagadia industrial estate in Bharuch district has been found to have damaged for the eighth time over the last one and a half months. The crack, says a local environmental organisation, has occurred at Hansot, endangering agricultural farms.

Historic Chikhalda, temples, mosques submerged, activists 'rescue' Gandhi idol

By Medha Patkar
The first farmer of Asia was born in Chikhalda, if one is to believe archaeological researchers. A historic village, 50 percent of its population is of Hindus and 50 percent of Muslims, yet it has always remained peaceful. Chikhalda has struggled to save water, land and people along Narmada river.

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are about 180 units in in the to…