While Election Commission of India is trying its best to fine-tune the election process, Bhutan is definitely the best place in the neighbourhood to draw inspirations from.
Also read: No gender balance in Bhutan politics
As the National Assembly election is scheduled to be held on October 18 in Bhutan, only university degree holders have the right to contest. Unfortunately in India, still a large number of the politicians are college dropouts.
In Bhutan, the candidates should be between the age group of 25 to 65 years to contest elections. In India, there is no upper age limit to fight elections and a large number of ministers, MLAs and MPs are old and ailing.
Citizens of Bhutan married to foreign nationals are not allowed to contest elections. But Indian politicians can marry a foreigner and can still contest elections.
In Bhutan, any public servant dismissed or removed from public service or the corporate sector is barred from contesting elections. But in India, it is a common practice that corrupt bureaucrats begin a second innings of career as politicians.
In Bhutan, members of the royal family are not allowed to contest elections. Unfortunately in India, the descendents of the royal families across India are still contesting elections, and continue to be ‘Raja sahib’ for the ‘subjects’.
Though a young democracy, Bhutan does not allow clergy or a religious leader to contest election. But in India, it is a fashion for the babas, maulanas and pastors to contest elections. Though India is a secular nation, religion still plays an important role in the electoral process.
While money power plays an important role in the winning of elections in India, Bhutan is probably the only country in South Asia to have a Public Election Fund. The fund was created under the Public Election Fund Act 2008.
The Election Commission of Bhutan disburses a ‘base amount’ to political parties to fight the preliminary round and to the candidates to fight the final rounds of elections. The fund helps to curb undue influence of money power on elections and to prevent the unregulated flow of election funds from questionable sources.
If the tiny Himalaya Kingdom of Bhutan, which has just 10 years experience of holding National Assembly elections, why cannot India take lessons from its neighbour and set an example of electoral reforms?