While in Gujrat Mr L.K.Advani raised a very pertinent issue –Right to vote to be made Duty to vote . In fact in my article dated April 22,2009,I had raised the issue that the awareness should be to instill sense of duty while exhorting people to exercise their right to vote — especially in Times of India—Lead India Campaign, and by other organizations.
Even a spirited and long drawn initiative of the Times of India Group could not achieve better than 53% voting in Delhi, what to say of abysmal 43 in Mumbai. How can we achieve a 75 to 80 percent voting so that we can say that the largest party truly represent the majority of the people?
The Right to vote cannot simply be made a Duty to vote because of the difficulties in its implementation. What we need is a little change in the system and incentivise the Right to vote.
Dr Kiran Bedi, the celeberated IPS officer, has made avery good suggestion. The Election Day should not be declared a public holiday. To carry forward this idea further, I would like to suggest the following:-
1. The Government Offices should be closed assuming most of the government staff is busy with the electoral process.
2. All Private establishments should remain open for work, but they should allow a four hour break to the employee to enable him/ her cast the vote. If the employee has availed leave but has not cast his vote, he should be marked half day s leave.
3. All Government employees who have not voted should be marked a day s leave
4. All income tax payers should be allowed an incentive of 10% of the income tax paid by him in the previous year, subject to a ceiling of say Rs 1,000/=
5. People in the lower category or those in rural areas should be issued coupons of say Rs 1000/= which they can utilize for buying necessities etc.
All the above suggestions are very simple and easily implementable.
A more radical idea would be hold elections between 4 pm to 11 pm, at least in big cities to start with .