Black money major problem in Indian elections: Quraishi

London, Jun 29: The use of black money is a major problem in the election campaigns in India where such wealth is used for "biryani parties" as well as "marriage ceremonies without a bride and groom" to lure voters, former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi has said.

"We do have some problems and the use of black money is a major problem. We have made life really miserable for politicians but the fact is that a lot more than the prescribed money is used. But we are clear that state funding of elections is not the answer. We are trying to be more and more rigid with the rules," he said.

Quraishi was speaking at the launch of his book titled 'An Undocumented Wonder: The Making of the Great Indian Election' at India House last week.

Among some of the anecdotes in the book, he delves into the extent to which black money sweeps the election campaign in India including ostensibly simple "biryani parties" as well as "marriage ceremonies without a bride and groom" to lure voters.

Quraishi also highlighted the importance of democracy in India and called it one of the best brands of the country. "Democracy is one of the best brands we have in India. Every election proves to be better than the previous one. It is a mind-boggling exercise as we have more voters than all countries of Europe put together," he said.

The book is framed as a first person account of India's recent electoral history and the challenges encountered.

"This book is not a kiss and tell, yet it has some very interesting anecdotes that capture the credibility and beauty of Indian elections," he added.

Quraishi's book also documents why the Indian elections are considered one of the world's greenest elections. "The use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) saves 11,000 tonnes of paper, 2,80,000 trees as well as the water that would have gone into making that paper.

Using the EVMs again and again saves money and we reduce noise pollution as the public address systems have to off by 7 pm," he explained, adding that on a light-hearted note, "and then we are criticised for murdering the festival of democracy."

Quraishi said levelling the gender gap and reducing voter apathy are among some of the key Election Commission's (EC) achievements over the years but stressed that the EC is a dynamic body which is always learning.


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