The great Indian political race now enters the last lap, as the results of the month-long national elections are announced on Saturday.
This is a good time to step back and appreciate the enormity of what has just taken place—421 million voters, 8,070 candidates and 542 Lok Sabha seats.
Indians take all this for granted even as we live in a neighbourhood populated by authoritarian regimes and failed states. What in 1951 looked like a huge gamble—a poor and largely illiterate populace choosing its own government—is now a given fact for us. Not many believed that Indian democracy would survive for close to 60 years.
The second achievement is the way the logistics are managed by the Election Commission and the security forces to ensure a fair and peaceful election.
That depends on many key innovations introduced in 1951 by Sukumar Sen, the first election commissioner— registration of even the poorest voters, election symbols on ballots, indelible ink and electronic voting machines. Amazing!