VotingManohar puri made an interesting point in his article*. Should voting be made compulsory? Though I don’t entirely agree with his view that one should snatch away the rights of an individual to criticize government policies and performance if he has not voted, right for expression being one of the foundation stones on which our democracy stands, that should not dilute the fatc that “duties” should be given equal weightage.

Making the “right to vote” a “duty to vote” might be beneficial in several ways. An increase in voting percentage can at least assure of, if not guarantee, a clear mandate. Who knows, it might provide a respite from these coalition-jokes arising out of hung-parliaments and hazy mandates. But the fact remains that applying such a rule in a nation- where civic sense is extinct – wouldn’t be easy, unless you accompany it with some kind of punishment on defiance, lest it goes the “Pulse-polio” way. Who can pursue me to vote mandatorily unless my employer tells me categorically that I would lose my days’ salary if I don’t. Another good suggestion that Puri made here is that the electoral officer might provide some kind of a receipt or a certificate to an individual to declare that he has indeed voted.

And why stop at compulsory primary education and voting, I am for compulsory rights and duties in the following areas too:

  • Right to get a universally acceptable identity card (akin to the Social Security number concept of the US) that replaces all other forms of identification documents such as Ration cards, Voter ID and so on.
  • Duty to get a compulsory Aids Test

Easier said than done, eh.

* Not a permalink.
[ Hindi version of this post is available here.]