The Government of India has declared January 25th of every year as National Voter’s Day.
Vote comes from the Latin word “Votum,” which translates as “vow, wish, promise, or dedication.”
First Lok Sabha
Post-Independence, the first Lok Sabha was formed in 1951 by the citizens of this country, culminating from a voting process.
Every voter a Bhagya Vidhata
The Indian National Anthem has the line, Bharatha Bhagya Vidhatha. In this context, it means the President of India.
Every voter in India is truly a Bharatha Bhagya Vidhata in his own right. Each person has the capacity and right to change, mould and shape the destiny of this land.
Each Citizen a King
The Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathi refers to everyone as kings in one of his poetry, the relevant line being Ellorum Innattu Mannargal, meaning ‘Every citizen is a king’. He meant to say that every citizen has a role in shaping the destiny of this land. He made this observation even before Independence.
Voting not new to this land
Voting is not something new that was introduced in this land only after independence. Infact, many inscriptions have been found indicating how voting has been a regular feature of this land of Bharatha for many centuries. The 1000 year old temple inscriptions of Uttaramerur in Tamil Nadu speak about the voting system.
The Uttaramerur Vaikunda Perumal temple inscriptions
The temple inscriptions also mention that people who indulged in corruption were disqualified from contesting elections.
In Ancient India, a system called Kudavolai system was followed where the palm leaves with candidate names were placed inside a mud pot for counting.
In Independent India, initially the multiple ballot system was followed. Then the single ballot system became prevalent. And, now the electronic voting system is followed.
There were many Janapada, republics in this land.
The very term Janapada means, ‘People coming together to govern themselves through People Governance Body’. Thus implying that people voted to form their governing bodies in these Janapada.
We see from these examples that voting and the governance system has been a norm in this land for thousands of years.
More on Election System in Ancient India in our book, ‘You Turn India’.
Universal Adult Franchise
In India, Universal Adult Franchise has been followed from the beginning. This has not been the case in other countries.
In USA, the voting rights for women were given only in 1927 after a hard fight. In Switzerland, women got their voting rights only in 1972. It is interesting that India already had a women Prime Minister in Indira Gandhi by then.
Similarly, voting rights have been hard fought for in many parts of the world.
Equal rights for all genders
In contrast, in India, all the three genders, male, female and transgender have had equal voting rights for many centuries.
Moreover, in India, post elections, there was gender equality in choosing who should govern the people as can be seen in the case of Indira Gandhi. Other examples include Sucheta Kriplani, elected as the first women Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1966 and Nandini Satpathy, who became the first women Chief Minister of Orissa in 1972.
Voting is and has been an important responsibility than just a right to exercise.
It is a responsible choice to be made for a good and clean governance.