Electoral Reforms in India- Issues, Need for Election Reforms | UPSC Essay on Electoral Reforms PDF

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : November 15th, 2022

Electoral Reforms in India mean the development and change in the election process in India. The Electoral Reforms aims to facilitate free and fair elections, clean politics, and ideal members of a legislative house. It helps in making Indian democracy a real democracy in the letter as well as in spirit. Article 324-329 of the Indian Constitution deals with elections and the electoral system.

Election Reforms in India have made the election process much safer for voters and candidates. Moreover, it has regulated the electoral process to eliminate malpractices involved during elections. Electoral Reforms UPSC is one of the vital topics under the Indian Polity syllabus of the IAS Exam. Here you will learn about the Electoral Reforms in India, the need in India, Electoral Reforms in India before and after 2010, the latest news and the way forward.

Table of Content

Electoral Reforms in India

Electoral Reforms in India are a testament to the evolution and optimistic changes in the election process to promote fair competition, the practice of clean politics, equal representation, etc. 

Electoral Reforms in India PDF

The Electoral Reforms In India can be divided into two major phases-

  • Electoral Reforms in India before 2010
  • Electoral Reforms in India after 2010

Recently, Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner of India, wrote to Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Law Minister of India, to request expedited action on the Electoral reform proposals pending with the Government. This includes the enhanced two-year jail term that could bar the candidates from contesting the elections for the next 6 years. 

Core Issues in Electoral Politics in India

It is important to understand the issues to implement better Electoral Reforms in India. No matter how strong the Indian electoral system is, it has to face many challenges. The significant challenges in the Indian Electoral System are given below. 

  • Money Power: Election is an expensive affair in every democratic polity. The money spent by an individual sometimes exceeds the limit. Money power plays a destructive role in our electoral system affecting periodic elections seriously as candidates have to spend a lot of money for their publicity and campaigning.
  • Muscle Power: The criminalization of politics and the politicization of criminals are like two sides of the same coin and are mainly responsible for the muscle power in the Election. There are a lot of reports of untoward and illegal acts like booth capturing, violence, etc.
  • Misuse of Government Machinery: It generally complains that the Government in power often misuses official machinery to further the election prospects of its candidates. They use government vehicles or disbursements from the discretionary funds when the ministers are disposed of.
  • The criminalization of Politics and Politicisation of criminals: Nexus between the two groups of Politicians and Criminals ensure each other's survival in Indian democracy. Criminals use money and muscle powers to enter politics and ensure that the cases against them have not proceeded. Political parties also field such candidates with a criminal background to secure a seat for the Party.
  • Casteism: In India, many political leaders use the caste issue as a political agency to divide the people for their benefit of votes.
  • Freebies in the Election: Free liquor or some goods to voters are acts of enticing voters.
  • Paid News and Fake news: Paid news is published as a news item in the form of an advertisement. Social media also transmits fake information.

Electoral Reforms in India before 2010

The critical details of the Electoral Reforms in India before 2010 are as follows-

  • According to the 61st Constitutional Amendment Act of 1988, the voting age was officially reduced from 21 years to 18 years for Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
  • Electronic voting machines were implemented by a provision made in 1989.
  • The election commission 1993 issued the use of the elector's photo identity card or EPIC to make the electoral process more straightforward and efficient.
  • Upon violating the National Honour Act of 1971, the candidate will be disqualified for six years from contesting any state legislatures or Parliament elections.
  • In 1989 a provision was made for adjournment of a poll or countermanding elections in case of booth capturing.
  • There was a ban on the sale of liquor within the polling for 48 hours.
  • In 1980, a provision was made that stated any staff or officers involved in the preparation, correction, or revision of the electoral process will be considered on the delegation of the election commission during the employment period.
  • In 1988 there was a hike in the number of candidates for elections to legislative councils and Rajya Sabha.

Electoral Reforms in India after 2010

The critical points of the Electoral Reforms in India after 2010 are as under-.

  • The election commission put a restriction on the election expenditure. The Lok Sabha election was 50 to 70 lakhs, and it was 20 to 28 lakhs for assembly elections.
  • January 25 was to be observed as National Voters Day to mark the founding of the Election Commission.
  • In 2013, the Election Commission decided to expand the postal ballot services in the country.
  • Before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the EC announced that the exit poll results would only be broadcasted after completing the final phase of the elections.
  • NOTA or none of the above was introduced as a ballot option.
  • In January 2018, the Government of India made election funding more transparent by introducing an electron bond scheme.
  • VVPAT, or Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail, was introduced to help voters verify if their vote was cast correctly.
  • Candidates who declare false information in the affidavit are liable to punishment of imprisonment of up to 6 months, a hefty fine, or both.

Need for Electoral Reforms in India

The Electoral Reforms in India were set up to bring better participation of Indian citizens in the electoral process. Here are the basic needs that led to the Electoral Reforms in India-

  • The Goswami Committee on Electoral reform 1990 observed the crippling effect of money and muscle power in elections.
  • The N. Vohra committee, which submitted its report in October 1993, studied the problem of criminalization of politics and the nexus among politicians, bureaucrats, and criminals in India. According to the CBI committee, IB had unanimously expressed their opinion that the criminal network is virtually running a parallel government.
  • The Law Commission has said that in the last ten years since 2004, 18% of the candidates contesting national and state assembly elections had one or more criminal cases against them.
  • The 18th report presented by a parliamentary committee to the Rajya Sabha in March 2007 said that there should not be a person from a criminal background.
  • The report said, "criminalization of politics is the bane of society and negates democracy."

Electoral Reforms by Election Commission & Government

The Government has taken the following initiatives to enhance the Election process in India and contribute to better electoral reforms. 

  • Electoral bonds: Electoral bonds are like a promissory note that can be bought by an Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of the State bank of India. It was introduced with the Finance Bill (2017). On January 29, 2018, the Government of India introduced the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018.
  • Introduction of VVPATs: It is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballot-less voting system. It is an independent printer system attached to an Electronic voting machine that allows the voters to verify their votes. VVPAT generates a paper slip when a voter casts his vote, recording the Party to whom the vote was made. The voters affirmed paper audit slip is kept under a sealed cover.
  • Guidelines for social media during the Election: Voluntary Codes for ethics are given by the election commission for a fair and accessible election.
  • Lowering of voting Age: The 61st constitutional amendment act reduced the minimum age for voting from 21 years to 18 years.
  • Introduction of Electronic Voting Machines: EVMs were introduced in 1998 during the state elections of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. EVMs are used widely now because they are fool-proof, efficient, and a better option in terms of the environment.
  • Restricting candidates from contesting in more than two constituencies shall lead to disqualifying the person for six years from contesting to the Parliament and State legislatures when a person violates the National Honors Act, 1971.
  • Increasing the number of proposers and the security deposit: The number of electors required to sign as proposers in the nomination papers for Election to the Rajya Sabha and the State Legislative Councils has been increased to 10% of the electors of the constituency or ten such electors. It helped in reducing the number of non-serious candidates in the Election. It is restricted by law to go to the polling booth bearing arms, and taking arms to the polling booth is punishable by imprisonment for up to 2 years.
  • Prohibition on the sale of liquor: Liquor or other intoxicants shall not be sold at any shop, eating place, or other sites within the polling area during forty-eight hours. Forty-eight hours were ending, with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll.
  • The ceiling on election expenditure: For the Lok Sabha election, a candidate can spend nearly 50-70 lakh and Rs 20-28 lakh for an assembly election.
  • The Government decided to observe January 25 as 'National Voters Day' to mark the EC's founding day.
  • Voting through the postal ballot is another reform taken up by the Government.
  • Political parties must report any contribution above Rs 20000 to the Election Commission for claiming income tax benefits.
  • The candidates require a declaration of criminal record, assets, etc., and declaring false information in the affidavit is now an electoral offense punishable with imprisonment up to 6 months, a fine, or both.

Committees on Electoral Reforms in India

There are three different Committees on Electoral Reforms in India. These committees are-

  • Dinesh Goswami Committee
  • Jeevan Reddy Committee
  • Tarkunde committee

Electoral Reforms in India UPSC

Electoral Reforms in India UPSC is a crucial topic concerning Indian polity and, thus, has been an essential topic for the IAS Exam. Many questions have been raised about the topic in the UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains exam. So, you need to have a detailed understanding of the Electoral Reforms in India. 

Electoral Reforms in India UPSC Questions

Also, you can check the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to judge your preparation for the UPSC Exam. A few of the Electoral Reforms in India UPSC Questions that have been asked in the UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains exam are as under-.

Question- Prelims Question- The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2003, passed by the Parliament of India, sought to:

  1. Provide the facility to opt to vote through the proxy to the service voters belonging to the armed forces.
  2. Introduce an open ballot system for elections to the Council of States.
  3. Insert provision regarding the supply of copies of electoral rolls to candidates of recognized political parties.
  4. Make it mandatory for political parties to report all cases of contributions received above Rs.20000 to the Election Commission.

Answer- B

Question- Dinesh Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms was appointed by the

  1. United Front Government
  2. BJP-led Coalition Government
  3. United Progressive Alliance Government
  4. National Front Government

Answer- D

Question for Mains- The role played by the Election Commission of India has bestowed a very high level of confidence in the minds of Indian citizens in ensuring the purity of the elected legislative bodies in the country. Critically examine.

Other Important UPSC Notes

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Slave Dynasty

National Population Policy 2000

7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution

Schedules of the Indian Constitution

Government of India Act 1935

Wholesale Price Index

National Development Council in India

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution

Delhi Sultanate

History of Medieval India

Ramappa Temple


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FAQs on Electoral Reforms in India

  • The introduction of EVM and amendments to the Representation of the People Act (RPA) of 1951 are some of the notable Election Reforms in India. The Election Commission consistently makes an effort to bring the best Electoral Reforms in the country.

  • The Indian Electoral system has faced a lot of challenges. A few are money power, muscle power, misuse of government machinery, criminalization of politics and criminalization of criminals, casteism, colonialism, and much more.

  • There are a lot of Indian committees that deal with Electoral Reforms. The Law Commission headed by Justice AP Shah in 2014 examined issues concerning the disqualification of candidates with a criminal background and the consequences of filing false affidavits.

  • Electoral Reforms can make the democratic process more inclusive by bringing more people into the electoral process, reducing corruption, which is pervasive, and making India a more robust democracy.

  • In India, there are three committees on Electoral Reforms. These committees include the Dinesh Goswami Committee, the Tarkunde committee, and Jeevan Reddy Committee.

  • You can start with a background of the need for Election Reforms in India - India is one of the largest democracies in the world. The power in a democratic country lies with its citizens as they can choose representatives and change the Government - what better way to enhance the democracy of a country than to provide people with fundamental electoral rights?

    However, the reality remains that Indian democracy has a long way to go before it rids itself against the demons of deviance. This has been articulated quite forcefully in public forums by our political leaders, which is a source of hope.

  • Some of the ideas to improve the voting system in India through electoral reforms are as follows. 

    • Inclusion of all votes, such as domestic migrants and NRI, and provide voting anywhere and anytime. 
    • Another important election reform needed in One Nation, One Election, along with more digital inclusion. 
    • Regular updation of electoral rolls. 
    • First, the pass the Post (FPTP) system should be replaced with the Proportional Representation system.

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