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Do Indian Voters Even Know How to Vote in General Elections?

Do Indian Voters Even Know How to Vote in General Elections?

General elections are underway in India, but do voters even know how to evaluate the performance of a federal government?

The Indian Constitution provides for a division of powers between the federal and state governments, and voters need to know who’s responsible for what to be able to decide who to vote for. For example, the Central government is in charge of defence, foreign affairs, railways, banking, construction of national highways, and so on, while a state government is accountable for public order, police, public health and sanitation, etc.

However, it seems few are aware of the distinction between the roles of the Central and state governments. Behind this ignorance is perhaps the common notion that elections are mainly about politicians and parties, that voting is a “horserace” among parties, coalitions and personalities. Surprisingly, even media coverage of elections reflects this notion, which costs voters their voice and will in an electoral exercise.

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When I asked random voters in Tipra Village in Himachal Pradesh state’s Solan District, for StoriesAsia’s video series on the 2019 general elections in India, for The Diplomat, here’s what I found.

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StoriesAsia, a collective of independent journalists from 16 South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, seeks to replace the present-day parade of faceless numbers with humanising narrative nonfiction – a largely ignored journalistic genre in the region.

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