The world’s largest democracy is in the middle of a huge election that is expected to make major changes in the nation. India, which became a republic in 1947, has over 500 million voters. As the country is large and polling places are located within 2 kilometers of every registered voter even in rural areas, it takes a while for the process to be completed. This map shows when the various states have held their election and since much of the voting is processed with paper ballots, it is expected we will hear the results in July.
With a population where only 25% of people can read, campaigning is beginning to increase with the use of television ads. The expected winner of the prime minister election, Nerendra Modi, started a couple of years ago so his name would be recognizable. He has traveled the country more than any other candidate as well, with over 430 public meetings, 1400 telecasted rallies and 4000 ‘chai pe charcha’ (chat over tea) at small local tea stalls, making sure the voters got his message for change.
Modi’s campaign message has appealed to many people as he has argued that the current and prior governments have been corrupt and funds for improvements that would make life better for most have been squandered. His mass appeal to the working and middle classes has resulted in about a 60% voter turnout.
Because of the low literacy rate, all candidates are clearly identified with a symbol throughout the campaign process.
We visited Delhi and Agra during voting days and noticed political rallies and parades. We passed one large rally location and also noticed the presence of a couple of television news trucks at one place we visited; Arvind opined that they were setting up early for a photogenic shot of a candidate.
Once more, the people and process in India, while somewhat different in specifics, have dramatic similarities to our own desires and frustrations here in the States. No matter who the ruling party is, the mass of people generally feel left out of the process and the hope for improvement is a continuing desire.