Dr Mukulika Banerjee, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, and Director, South Asia Centre, at the London School of Economics (LSE), has been writing on the electoral practices in South Asia.
Her book ‘Why India Votes? (Routledge 2014) breaks several new grounds both conceptually and methodologically: it examines the reasons why despite varying odds, India’s voter graph continues to rise, making India the largest electoral democracy in the world.
In her book, she offers an account of the Indian electorate through a series of comprehensive ethnographic explorations conducted across the country ― Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. It probes the motivations of ordinary voters, what they think about politicians, the electoral process, democracy and their own role within it.
In an interview with Pervaiz Alam, Dr Mukulika Banerjee discusses the much needed reforms to improve upon the election system in India. She advocates that the Election Commission of India (ECI) must introduce ‘Totaliser’- a mechanism which allows votes from 14 booths to be counted together so that voters are saved from pre-poll intimidation and post-poll harassment. She opposes the NRI voting, introduction of electoral bonds to finance political parties in haste and clubbing together of all state legislative elections with the Lok Sabha election as suggested by the PM Modi’s government in India. She argues that a proper and detailed debate must take place before introducing these changes in the Indian election system.
The interview with Dr Mukulika Banerjee was recorded on 17 April 2018 in London.