In the news: Elections are starting in India, the largest democracy in the world. This is the biggest democratic operation ever, with 814 million people entitled to vote. The first stage of the elections was on 7 April, with nine more stages to follow. The result is expected on 16 May.
Commentary by Chandrashekhar Dengale, International Agribusiness and Trade Bachelor’s student, and Mith Chaudhari, Global Chain Management Master’s student
Chandrashekhar: ‘The party currently in government, the Congress Party, has been in power for ten years now. Indians are really angry with the present government; the widespread corruption is a particular source of annoyance. Take the scandal surrounding the building of Ardash, for example. The building was intended for war heroes but 25 flats were sold off for virtually nothing to politicians and civil servants. And more than 20 billion euros disappeared in the 2G spectrum scandal, in the sale of frequencies for mobile phones.’
‘Lots of Indians have money hidden away in Switzerland. People say that if it was all returned to India, we would be the richest country in the world. I saw on the Internet that it’s about a trillion euros — that’s a one followed by 12 zeroes.’
Mith: ‘Narendra Modi is expected to become the new prime minister. The state of Gujarat has developed a lot under his leadership, with a focus on technology. Polls give him 30 percent more votes than his rivals. The country really needs to change and Modi can achieve that.’
‘India has a lot of isolated areas; around two-thirds is farmland. But there is also Internet everywhere so everyone knows now that there are elections. That is why a high turnout is expected. People have to have a voter ID card with their name and photo. They vote electronically via a computer. It’s very secure, we are not expecting any problems. You vote on a screen, you can only enter one choice and no-one else can see what you’re doing. The votes are recorded immediately.’
‘I am expecting everything to change under Modi. Now a lot of graduates are unemployed, people with a Master’s degree or even a PhD. Industry should be developed in every city and big improvements are needed in the infrastructure too. Metros are being built, but only in three cities. They must do more than that. It costs almost as much to study medicine in India as in the United States. It’s incredible — where does all that money go?’