The festival of democracy, as it is often described, is round the corner.

The weeks ahead will be full of rallies, slogan shouting, TV debates, hot social media wars and what not.

While we have to be ready to ‘live’ through this, the aspect that impresses me most is different:  the way the Election Commission plans and implements this most complex exercise in the world, in such a credible fashion! By any scale , it is a gigantic exercise: 90 crs voters in the list, 10 lac polling stations,23 lac EVM machines ….the list goes on…It must be taking the best of the management and administrative skills of the commission. And with all this,  if there is even a small error in some part of the country, the Mamtas, Mayavatis and Kejriwals of the world are ready to pounce on the Commission.!


I am a part of the ‘earlier’ generation, wherein most of us were impressed with something “foreign”!  All great innovations and systems had to come from ‘outside’! If it was Indian, the quality was suspect.  Indian managers considered themselves ‘lesser selves’ in front of the ‘white’ bosses and executives, managing MNCs.

Even in those days, the then Election Commissions have successfully conducted a large number of elections ,all through the length and the breadth of this large landmass. This has always been done with almost entirely ‘home grown’ processes and systems. They have helped retaining faith of the people in our democracy. I wonder if the “Indianness” in this has been sufficiently appreciated by us, the fellow citizens!

Having worked in corporates, I always wonder what motivates this set of thousands of people, forming part of the Commission!!.  The salary of the Chief Election Commission may be one tenth of what a CEO of a private sector company,  managing  less than tenth of the complexities ,earns!

I would like to know if a full scale case study, on how these thousands are motivated to live up to the daunting expectations ,has ever been undertaken.

If anyone knowing about it shares the info., I will be grateful.









10 thoughts on “Elections

  1. Nrupesh Desai says:

    While I agree with you and join in praising election commission I feel they should reduce the time period of election gradually.One month is too long a period especially when media and people will spend double the time in unproductive exercise of speculations, predictions, opinions and propaganda

    • Jagdish Shah
      Jagdish Shah says:

      thanks Nrupesh.

      i think your point is very right..i had certainly overlooked the time part.

      i feel, however, that it has less to do with the domain of the commission than with the resources required for adequate security arrangements. Can u imagine..in J & K , in case of one constituency, election will be held in 3 phases! Surely , this would not be the limitation of the commission!

      to their credit, they have reduced the no of phases to 7 this time from earlier 9.

  2. Abhijit Ray says:

    Very true. Our ‘Western’ orientation often leaves us unable or unwilling to appreciate the great work out own countrymen do. To most, arranging elections is mostly about logistics, but not many are aware of the dire dangers that election officials have to face while trying to ensure fair elections in naxal areas. Indian elections can certainly be a great lesson in organising and management skill for corporates across the world!

    • Jagdish Shah
      Jagdish Shah says:

      Thanks Abhijit for your comments. Your profession (software) was perhaps the first area where the Indian strength was recognised in 1990s. What was done by Infosys/Wipro/TCS etc, gave us some recognition ..and with that , Indians, particularly youngsters ,started ‘believing’ in themselves as ‘capable ‘ people . Such belief also led to success in other areas. I have seen over the past 2-3 decades , how the general confidence level has risen about our abilities.

      our increased exposure to the outside world has also shown us the vulnerabilities of those societies.

      There is no room , of course, for complacency ..We have miles to go in many areas..My point is that ‘believing in oneself’ is the starting point for any achievement.. and what institutes like Election Commission tells us is that we have the ‘stuff’ in us for doing great things , if used rightly.

  3. Vikas Shirodkar says:

    JL you make some good points. We have never been proud Indians. We are ever ready to glorify n ape the west. But i feel it was TN Sheshan who was the first CEC to show some teeth to his political bosses. Using the existing statutes he put all patties n the processes in place. Before him frankly there was much to be desired. While complexity and size of the task was always daunting the professional handling is a matter of the more recent past. Now you rarely hear of booth capturing n other misdemeanours that characters our democracy in past. My point in raising this is to defend the long time span n the so called delays. It is because of these speed controllers we are making better decisions n bandobast now. My 2 cents worth in this mammoth subject.

    • Jagdish Shah
      Jagdish Shah says:

      VS: Good that you have reminded me about T N Sheshan ! He was indeed a phenomenon in those days. His tenure as CEC was the turning point in the history of the commission. My point that remains is that he was also a product of the same system. He saw the power that the then existing statues gave him . What differentiated him was his passion, coupled with a huge amount of courage , to bring sweeping changes which were thought to be impossible till then.

      what has also made a difference in the past 3 decades is the willingness of the commission to use the power of emerging technologies to bring about improvements . Not just that they have not remained conservative, they have been aggressive in deploying teacnologies despite the risks involved in doing so. Use of EVMs (and now the VVPATs) is one of the examples.

  4. Suresh Shivram Ogale says:

    Scale and magnitude of our elections is radically different from other functioning democracies.
    We have managed it by finding our own solutions.
    Many burocrats are talented n by creating a system
    and process easy to operate they have made the difference by ease of its operation and near fail safe function of counting.
    Congratulate the Election Commission and the Government in making this exercise speedy and credible.

    • Jagdish Shah
      Jagdish Shah says:

      SSO: I like your line: ” we have managed it by finding our own solutions”

      that is the crux of what i want to say.

      from the HR stalwarts like you , VS ,AAP etc, i also wish to hear on the question of what motivates them (the thousands of members of the EC)!!

      thanks for your feedback

  5. Anirudha Panchal says:

    In my current role I have observed the government officials closely. I have been always amazed by the dedication they display in mundane jobs. A local school teacher visiting voters door to door to ensure if they have their voting cards, if any corrections are required….all this for meager salaries….I just feel god has really been exceptional to ppl like us

    • Jagdish Shah
      Jagdish Shah says:

      well said Aniruddha.

      My curiosity to know about the motivation is to see if this can be replicated elsewhere..It can have a huge potential.

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