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One Nation One Election, Advantages and Disadvantages, Highlights

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In India, the idea of “One Nation, One Election” intends to coordinate elections for the Lok Sabha, the country’s lower house of Parliament, and all state assemblies. One Nation One Election committee, which was established to study the policy, is scheduled to hold its first formal meeting on 23rd September 2023.

In the world’s largest democracy, India, the rhythm of elections is constant and unending. From local panchayat polls to state assembly elections to the grand stage of national parliamentary elections, the electoral cycle never seems to pause. But what if there was a way to synchronize this election symphony into one harmonious event? This is the essence of the “One Nation-One Election” debate, a concept that has been stirring discussions and debates across the country. In this article, we delve into the idea, its implications, and the discussions surrounding it.

Simultaneous Election in India

Simultaneous elections, also known as “One Nation-One Election,” refer to the idea of conducting multiple elections at various levels of government, such as national parliamentary elections (e.g., Lok Sabha in India) and state or regional legislative elections, all at the same time or during a synchronized period. This concept aims to align the election schedules for different tiers of government to minimize the frequency of elections and their associated costs, streamline governance, and reduce disruptions caused by election-related activities.

One Nation One Election Debate History

The debate over the “One Nation-One Election” in India has a historical evolution that involves various committees, political personalities, and changing circumstances. Here’s a more detailed overview:

Timeline Details
1952-1967 India’s electoral system initially followed the practice of simultaneous elections. Lok Sabha (the national parliament) and state legislative assembly elections were held together during this period. This simultaneous election system aimed to streamline the electoral process and reduce the frequency of elections.
1967-1971 The practice of simultaneous elections was disrupted when the Fifth Lok Sabha elections were held earlier than scheduled in 1971 due to political developments.
1999-2000 The Law Commission of India, under the chairmanship of Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy, submitted a report suggesting the possibility of simultaneous elections. The report discussed the advantages of synchronized elections, including cost reduction and improved governance.
2014 The debate gained renewed momentum when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after coming to power, advocated for the idea of “One Nation-One Election.” He argued that holding elections at various levels of government throughout the year leads to governance disruptions and increased expenses.
2015 The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law, and Justice, chaired by Congress MP E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, submitted a report titled ‘Feasibility of Holding Simultaneous Elections to House of People (Lok Sabha) and State Legislative Assemblies.’ The report explored the practical aspects and challenges of implementing simultaneous elections. It recommended changes to election laws to facilitate this idea.
2017 NITI Aayog, India’s policy think tank, released a discussion paper on simultaneous elections. This paper, authored by Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai, presented a comprehensive argument in favor of simultaneous elections. It emphasized the issues of governance disruption caused by the Model Code of Conduct during election periods and the escalating costs of elections.
2019 To delve deeper into the concept, a committee led by then-President Ram Nath Kovind was formed to examine the issue and submit a report on simultaneous elections. This committee aimed to gather insights from various stakeholders and assess the practicality of implementing the idea.

Throughout this evolving debate, political leaders from different parties have expressed both support and opposition to the concept. The discussion revolves around issues such as cost savings, efficient governance, political consensus, and the need for legal and constitutional changes to enable simultaneous elections. The “One Nation-One Election” debate continues to be a significant topic of national importance, as it involves fundamental changes to India’s electoral processes and governance structure.

Advantages of One Nation One Election

Here are the advantages of One Nation-One Election:

Aspect Details
Cost Savings Holding all elections together would save a significant amount of money. India spends a substantial sum on conducting elections. India’s 2019 Lok Sabha election was estimated to cost around ₹60,000 crore (approximately $8 billion).
Efficient Use of Resources It reduces the burden on election-related manpower, including security personnel and polling officials, making better use of resources.  India deploys over 10 million personnel as polling officials across 9,30,000 polling stations during a general election.
Less Disruption Simultaneous elections help avoid frequent interruptions in governance due to the Model Code of Conduct, allowing governments to focus on implementing policies and reforms.
Stable Governance It promotes stability in governance by reducing the constant cycle of elections, allowing elected representatives to concentrate on their roles without the distraction of election campaigns.
Reduced Electoral Pressure Political parties may focus more on long-term policy implementation rather than short-term electoral gains, resulting in better decision-making.
Streamlined Election Process Conducting elections simultaneously simplifies the complex scheduling of elections at different levels, making it more organized and efficient.

Disadvantages of One Nation One Election 

Here are some points regarding the disadvantages of One Nation-One Election:

Aspect Details
Lack of Local Focus Simultaneous elections might lead to a reduced emphasis on local issues. For instance, in a state assembly election, candidates often address local problems like water scarcity, education, and healthcare. In a simultaneous election, these vital concerns might get overshadowed by national or state-level topics. This could make it challenging for voters to make informed choices about their local representatives.
Reduced Accountability Frequent elections help ensure that elected officials stay accountable to the public. In India, elections happen regularly at various levels of government, enabling citizens to hold their representatives answerable for their actions. If elections are less frequent, there may be longer gaps between opportunities for voters to evaluate and replace underperforming leaders.
Coordination Challenges Coordinating elections across the entire country, involving multiple tiers of government, can be a logistical challenge. India is a vast country with diverse regions, and ensuring a smooth, synchronized election process can be complicated. Delays, administrative complexities, and potential errors could arise due to the sheer scale of simultaneous elections.
Potential for Dominance National political parties with larger resources and influence might have an advantage over regional or local parties in simultaneous elections. This could lead to the dominance of larger parties and the weakening of regional representation. Smaller parties that focus on specific regional issues may find it harder to compete effectively.
Risk of Hasty Decisions Longer terms in office, resulting from less frequent elections, might make political leaders less responsive to changing circumstances. They could become less cautious about their decision-making, potentially leading to rushed or poorly thought-out policies.
Constitutional Changes Implementing simultaneous elections would require significant constitutional and legal changes. This could involve amending various provisions of the Indian Constitution and reworking election laws. Such an extensive overhaul could be a complex and time-consuming process, with no guarantee of a smooth transition.

One Nation One Election UPSC

“One Nation-One Election” is a crucial topic for UPSC aspirants as it aligns with several keywords in the UPSC syllabus, including “Governance,” “Constitutional Framework,” and “Election Systems.” Understanding this concept is essential for candidates seeking to excel in UPSC examinations. Additionally, UPSC online coaching and UPSC mock tests often incorporate contemporary topics like “One Nation-One Election,” ensuring that aspirants are well-prepared to tackle relevant questions in the exam and stay updated with current affairs that may feature in UPSC papers.

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One Nation One Election FAQs

What is one nation one election concept?

The "One Nation-One Election" concept aims to synchronize all elections in India, from panchayat to parliamentary, to be held simultaneously.

Which part of the Constitution is the election in?

The elections in India are primarily governed by Part XV of the Constitution, which deals with "Elections."

How can you say that Election Commission of India is independent and powerful?

The Election Commission of India is considered independent and powerful because it operates autonomously, is insulated from political influence, and has the authority to conduct free and fair elections.

What are the three powers of Election Commission of India?

The three powers of the Election Commission of India include conducting elections, enforcing the Model Code of Conduct, and recommending the disqualification of candidates.

Is it good to have political competition?

Political competition is generally seen as healthy for democracy as it promotes accountability, diversity of ideas, and citizen engagement in the political process.

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