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Electoral Reforms And Political Funding: Working Towards A Transparent Democracy

Electoral reforms and political funding are the most essential aspects of any democratic set up. It makes the election process fair and transparent while maintaining the sanctity of the political process . Over the past years, concern has been rising over the role of money in politics and the reforms to be embraced to avert this menace. Focus is on the importance of electoral reforms, various challenges associated with political funding and the remedies towards making the whole electoral process transparent and accountable.

The need for electoral reforms
Electoral reforms must be made to keep up with the principles of democracy that include:
fairness, equality and representation. One of the major objectives of the electoral reforms is to enhance the level of participation and confidence of the voters in the electoral process.It is in this quest that the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EMVs) has been introduced as a measure to ensure that voting can be more accessible and inclusive for a larger percentage of the population through EVMs and voter education programs. The electoral reform further seeks to ensure that issues like gerrymandering are addressed which may compromise the integrity of the electoral map. Measures to ensure fair constituency boundaries strengthen representation outcomes in elections.
  • Article 326 of the Indian Constitution states : Elections to the House of People and to legislative Assemblies of states shall be based on adult suffrage meaning eligibility for the election process to candidates of both the House of People and Legislative Assembly should be of 21 years. Citizens aged 18 years and above regardless of caste or race are free to vote.
  • Challenges in Political funding:
    • Political funding poses significant challenges to the integrity of the electoral process. Money in politics may be undue influence and raise risks for a decision more in favor of the wealthy donors or corporations but not the ordinary Citizens.
    • Opacity and Corruption:
      • Non-transparent funding practices can lead to corruption through quid pro quo arrangements, where policymakers make decisions in exchange for support, undermining the integrity of the electoral process.
    • Transparency Deficiency:
      • Lack of transparency in political funding, including the use of dark money, erodes public trust in the political system and raises concerns about the undue influence of special interests on elected officials.
    • Influence Imbalance:
      • Political funding often favors wealthy donors or corporations over ordinary citizens, potentially skewing decision-making in their favor.
  • Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860 Section 171H 'illegal payments in connection with the elections. 'In this act, it is provided that no person is to offer a bribe aiming to induce any other person to withdraw as a candidate in the election. Taking or giving of bribery is not allowed to induce a voter to give or refrain from giving his vote to the candidate of his choice. To ensure integrity and fairness in elections, those who commit corrupt practices are liable to pay a fine or face imprisonment.
This brings us to the issue of political reform and transparency in mechanisms of political funding. We, being the custodians of democracy, have a responsibility that our electoral processes are free, fair, and representative of the will of the people. Emphasis was given to the possibility of such comprehensive changes, with reforms of immense importance in the sense of increased transparency in campaign financing, stricter regulations for corporate contributions. Attention must turn into the pursuit of electoral integrity, for with this reform, we protect the very heart of democracy and principles upon which our society is founded.

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