|M A I L B A G||
Saturday, September 25, 1999
Electoral research needs control
THE reasons put forth by the Election Commission for imposing controls on electoral research are sound. Whether right or wrong, prophecies can fulfil themselves just because these have been made. The pollsters partial forecasts can influence the behaviour of different types of voters in later phases of the election process. This stands the predicted winners in good stead. In a heterogeneous country like India, the voters speak all sorts of languages and dialects. The standardised questions used in the interview schedules are understood in different ways by the respondents. Their on-the-spot translation by the investigators makes the matter worse. Among others, this makes the rate of no-response high. The situation at the time of casting the secret ballot is not the same as answering a strange inquirers intrusion. The presence of third person at the time of data-collection makes much difference.
Moreover, the sampling procedures used by the researchers create distortions. The large size of the electorate in India makes the sampling-frame unmanageable. Sample-size alone does not make a sample representative of a broader universe. The should-form of the procedure of selection is often different from its is-form. In countries like India, the prevailing job skills and work values of large research teams do not allow them to function rationally. Hastily trained investigators so many of them are required for a large-scale survey cut corners here and there, distorting the outcome. There are a hundred and one reasons for taking the forecasts made by exit polls with a pinch of salt. These are neither valid nor reliable.
There is menacing growth of parthenium or the congress grass all over this small but developing township. Following Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) directions to remove all sorts of encroachments like fences, hedges, plants etc in the residential areas, the maintenance of small gardens as platforms outside the homes is very difficult; resulting in an untidy and worn out look!
Besides, since there are no steps being taken by the authorities concerned to remove either the Congress grass or the dry hedges which adorn most of the vacant plots and open spaces available in this so called Paris of India; stray animals are usually found roaming around or lying down in the already fellow gardens outside homes. The parthenium and the hedges need to be removed.
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The 13th Lok Sabha election has seen much violence, bloodshed, bomb blasts and kidnapping. The total election process from the Ist day of voting (Sept 5) till the results are declared and a Government is formed may witness further increase in death tolls. It is free for all, including the supari contract killers who are making capital out of election necessity. Today they create chaos in one state and tomorrow they move to another. It is a continuous process till the last man casts his vote.
The phased election process was the creation of extrovert Seshan and introvert Chief Election Commissioner Gill has given more currency to it. The nation has witnessed the election since 1952. Total election process and results was an exercise of a few days. Now for the total two months there is no Government. No decisions are taken. Files are lying dumped. Everybody is in a dilemma.
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The Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission has conducted interviews for certain gazetted posts of school lecturers during the election campaign. It is a violation of the code of conduct. Moreover, instead of 65 posts advertised for physics and chemistry, the final results of 70 posts have been declared. On the one side the government says that the state is facing a financial crunch. On the other hand posts are being increased just to please the supporters.
It is surprising that most of the selections pertain to the wards, relatives and supporters of the ruling party. Had T.N. Seshan been there, such backdoor entries, and selections at such a critical time, would have never happened. The Election Commission should immediately order status quo in respect of such selection, lest the public is constrained to raise a voice of protest even against the EC. Even during college selections, candidates of ruling party were selected.
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