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Demarcating the Indian and the US Democracies - Part 1

BY: Drabir Ghosh | Category: Politics | Submitted: 2012-12-31 10:40:37
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Article Summary: "Major differences in the Indian and US election process, the way they select candidates to represent the respective parties, the way they campaign and different forms to lure voters. The amount of money spent in elections and how effective it is when it comes to gobbling up votes..."


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PART-1

The roads to the White House and that to the Panchavati ( also known as 7 Race Course Road ) may have remarkably sparkling differences between them, but both leads to one common chair that gives ultimate supremacy to head the respective Governments. When we talk about democracies and put the two nations hand in hand, it is like comparing a neonate with a veteran. Surely with the population count and high influx of refugees (the problem of refugees, sadly, is dealt within the purview of the antiquated Foreigners Act, 1946; this is despite of India being a signatory to myriad international conventions on human rights, some of which implicitly advocate the principle of non-refoulement) since independence India has developed into the world's largest democracy but it definitely has a few things to learn when it comes to the regulation of proper implementation of a democratic governance compared with other democracies such as that of The United States of America, which is considered to be one of oldest existing democracies in the world.

Apart from being recognized as an independent nation after almost 170 years of the US Declaration of Independence, India has several other significant differences compared with the US when it comes to the running of a democratic Government. Both the nations being a democracy, voting by the respective citizens to elect a Government is given paramount importance. But there are many differences in the election process of both the countries. The best way to compare the US Presidential Election with that of India's Lok Sabha election is to analyze the election process of both the nations.

Dr. M.S. Gill mentions in his book 'The electoral System in India' that "India is a constitutional democracy with a parliamentary system of government, and at the heart of the system lies a commitment to hold regular, free and fair elections. These elections determine the composition of the government, the membership of the two Houses of Parliament, the State and Union Territory Legislative Assemblies, and the Presidency and Vice-Presidency." When we talk about the election process of the world's largest democracy, the Election Commission is at the helm of all decision making processes and is the pinnacle body that conducts the elections. The Election Commission of India has laid down certain rules and regulations ( like the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 etc. ) and all the elections conducted in India are held in accordance with these regulations. The citizens of India are trusted with the responsibility to choose the head of the country as well as the head of the state. Based on the Federal structure of the Indian Republic both the General and the State elections are conducted. India follows a bicameral legislative structure. The members to the "House of the People" or the Lok Sabha are elected through the General elections. These members are chosen from the parliamentary constituencies. The number of parliamentary constituencies in a state depends upon the size and the population of the state. The executive along with the council of ministers is chosen from among the members of the winning party or the ruling coalition, as the case may be. India follows a parliamentary system of Government, wherein the Prime Minister is the presiding and actual head of the government and head of the executive branch.

Unlike the Indian election process the election conducted in the United States of America is that of a Presidential Election. The President of the United States of America (also known as POTUS ) is the head of state and head of Government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces. The basic process of selecting the President of the United States is spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, and it has been modified by the 12th, 22nd and 23rd amendments. United States Presidential Election Process is mainly carried out by the electors who are the people's representatives in various states. The first step is the selection of the delegates. The delegates are chosen by the various states of the United States of America. Some states hold presidential primary elections, some hold caucuses and there are others who use a combination of both (the presidential primary elections and caucuses held in each US state and territory is a part of the nominating process for the US Presidential elections. These primaries and caucuses are staggered between January and June before the general election in November. The primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private events that are directly run by the political parties themselves. A state's primary election or caucus usually is an indirect election: instead of voters directly selecting a particular person running for President, it determines how many delegates each party's national convention will receive from their respective state. These delegates then in turn select their party's presidential nominee.)

Both major political parties of the U.S., the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, officially nominate their candidate for President at their respective national conventions. Each of these conventions is attended by a number of delegates selected in accordance with the given party's bylaws. Both parties operate with two types of delegates: pledged and unpledged. The group of unpledged delegates, also known as superdelegates, generally comprising current and former elected officeholders and party leaders, are free to vote for any candidate they wish at the convention. The group of pledged delegates, comprising delegates representing the party committee of each state, is expected to vote in accordance with the rules of their state party. Depending on state law and state party rules, when voters cast ballots for a candidate in a presidential caucus or primary, they may be voting to actually award delegates bound to vote for a particular candidate at the state or national convention, or they may simply be expressing an opinion that the state party is not bound to follow in selecting delegates to the national convention. In recent elections, the eventual nominees were known well before the actual conventions took place. The last time a major party's nominee was not clear before the convention was in 1976, when incumbent president Gerald Ford narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan.

In India the Election Commission decides the schedule of election to Parliament or State Legislature, taking into account the recommendations of the concerned government. The Election Commission generally announces the schedule, but the election process begins only with the notification of the President or the Governor, as the case may be, calling upon the voters to elect their representatives for different constituencies. A period of eight days is allowed for the filing of nominations of candidates. While the candidate has to be a voter in the country, the proposers must be voters in the constituency in which the candidate is contesting. After the period of nominations is over, the Returning Officer scrutinizes the nomination papers, and any serious defect in them may lead to their rejection. After scrutiny two clear days are allowed for withdrawal of candidature. The list of candidates is then finalized by the Returning Officers and symbols allotted to the parties and independent candidates. Reserved symbols are granted to the recognized parties and free symbols to the others. A period of not less than 20 days from the last date for withdrawal of nomination is allowed for campaigning. Limits have been prescribed for the election expenses of candidates at rates for each State depending on the number of voters in the constituencies. The election expenditure of political parties on behalf of candidates is not included in this amount. Companies are not allowed to make donations to political parties. The campaign has to end in a constituency 48 hours before the close of poll. The Election Commission evolves a code of conduct from time to time and the political leaders are expected to follow it while campaigning, however, many a time it is blatantly violated. Election Commission plays a vital role in smooth conducting of elections.

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PART 2: http://www.saching.com/Articles/Demarcating-the-Indian-and-the-US-Democracies-Part-2-16279.html


I am an avid reader of Indian Politics and Geo-politics scenario and love to write on various issues regarding the same. Apart from Politics, I love to read about major national and international issues on policies, sports, international relations between dominating and evolving economies etc.

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