Election – UPSC Ethics

It is argued that state funding of political parties can help end corruption. Do you think public funds should be used for this purpose? Substantiate. (150 Words)
Elections in India are costly affair for both who contest and who conduct.
A Recent Study on Black Money submitted to the Finance Ministry shows that established parties like Congress, BJP, and others received 75 to 100 percent of their donations in cash in denomination of less than 20,000 each from unknown sources.
In 1998, the Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections and 2008, Administrative reforms Commission endorsed Partial state Funding of election, LCI report of 1999 expected to total state funding “if political parties are prohibited from taking funds from other sources”.
Though, NCRWC (2001) did not endorse such plan.
State Funding of polls would be a lost battle unless political parties make way for inner-party democracy that allows good and meritorious members to get poll tickets.
Without preventing parties from raising private funds, the state funds could end up topping up the coffers of already – rich parties.
So, state funding would succeed only when it is total and not partial, because there is no guarantee that even after it was introduced, rich parties and candidates would not pump black money into campaigns to boost their chances of victory.
In my view instead of using state funds to end corruption, we need strong Lokpal and break on flow of Black Money into political parties.
Elections are carnival of democracy, shall not become the grounds of corruption which is harming the Democracy and principles itself. Corruption is the major setback and impediment to health of democracy.
Various countries with democracies are dealing the menace in their own way like restricting the
expenditures, contributions, encouraging small funding, making tax exempted political donation increasing corporate donation fund, setting up electoral trust
State funding, in which govt pays for each vote, say 55% [of 100 crore] voter turnout and Rs100/vote will cause 5500 cr. expenditure. This is another way to curb or at least discourage the black money and accumulations. This must be initiated as currently in Europe
Benefits of Public funds
1  Since fund is taken , it will be desirable to have honest grass root candidate rather political entrepreneurs
2  It will call parties for greater relationship with grass root level
3  It will help in mobilisation on basis on agenda rather Famous leaders
4  There will be less incentives in calling for big money barons as, those contributing money will give vote to same political party
5  Such funding mechanism will invite greater transparency in the political party
6  Since Funding sources are diverse, there is less likely chance of coming under pressure of political candidate to favour any business /nepotism etc.
7 Less likelihood of using of arbitrary powers over corporates by govt since , there will be no such jealousy of funding opposition parties.
Election has become a money game where large parties with their deep pockets contest election with much fanfare, spending to attract voters, while smaller parties find it difficult to show their presence. The amount of money spent on election by political parties is huge and black money obtained from Criminals, Corporates and Contractors (3 Cs) so that they will get kickbacks once party is in power. On closer look we can see that, all these are public money only which are amassed by 3Cs by illegal means.
Hence, if we make election a clean, fair and transparent process of contest, then such money we can find in correct place of project implementation. Hence, both this black money and State funding plan is public money and I find State funding political parties is better because:
  1. It will curb corruptions and outside funding of party. It will make election fair, transparent process.
  2. Black money from market will reduce which otherwise circulate by substandard development => acquiring wealth => funding election => substandard development.
But, we need to acknowledge that, still the details of how State funding will work, audited, when amount will be paid post/pre elections are unclear. Hence, making a proper plan and implementing it as pilot project is very much required looking at India’s vision of corruption intolerant nation.

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