India elections... The world's largest democracy exercise

  • National Newswatch

As the world's largest democracy chooses it's next Prime Minister the people of India and around the world eagerly await as to who will take the helm of this nation of 1.2 billion people.  With over 551 million voters casting their ballots- more than the combined populations of Canada, the US, Germany, and the UK the people of India have ensured their voices are heard.  In a nation of contrasts and contradictions India successfully and peacefully concluded the worlds largest democractic exercise.  With a turnout of 66.38%, the largest in the history of India elections, both the young and the old, the rural and the urban, rich and the poor, the men and the women exercised their right to be heard.With an election cycle that has spanned over 5 weeks with nine phases to elect 543 MP's some such as S.Y. Quraishi, former chief election commissioner and author of An Undocumented Wonder — The Making of the Great Indian Election have termed Indias election as “the largest human management project in the world.”  The elections commission of India tried to ensure that none of the 800 million plus people entitled to vote would have to travel more than a mile. Hence over 11 million employees consisting of officials and security personal were deployed to ensure that the polls carried out at over 900,000 voting stations throughout the country were done peacefully.  With voter turnout figures of the 2014 elections shattering the previous record of 417 million set in the last election the efforts seem to have been a success.  The voters of India made it clear they are eager to participate in the building of their nations future.Each of the 3 main political parties of India - the Congress headed by its scion, Rahul Gandhi, the Bharitya Janta Party also known as the BJP led by Narendera Modi, and new entrant the Aam Admi Party or AAP led by Arvind Kejriwal along with a host of regional parties have sought to connect annd communicate wiith the voters in a nation split along the lines of religion, cast, and socio-economic demographics.What however has been most telling in this election has been the campaign of BJP's Prime Ministerial Candidate, Narendra Modi, and according to numerous exit polls India's next Prime Minister. With an almost Obamaesque feel Modi Mania seems to have swept the nation for the past few months.  Every TV channel, every newspaper, every radio station has been filled with Modi, Modi, Modi...from his pictures, to his ads, to his slogan the Modi seems to have been everywhere.Launching his campaign 8 months ago in September of 2013 he has held 5827 public meetings, travelled  300,000 Km's, held 1350 3-D rallies, 4000 chai pe charcha (a chat over tea) with groups of people via video link in remote and isolated villages and bustling cities Modi seems to have figured out the magic of mass mobilization. Combining the traditional methods of indian politics of holding rallies in villages, cities, and towns with innovative uses of technology and social media some have estimated that Modi's campaign reached out and connected to 100 million people.The desire and determination to connect with voters by Modi has perhaps been most evident with the strategy utilized on social media. Having the second largest number of mobile phone users in the world with over 900 million people estimated to have a cell phone Modi and his team quickly figured out the importance of social media in the 2014 election campaign.  With over 3.89 million followers on twitter and over 14 million facebook fans- second only to Obama in the world- Modi has left no stone unturned to connect with his followers on a daily basis.Even tools like WhatsApp were utitlized to spread the word and then just in case voters forgot what he looked like Modi's self clicked selfie on one of the voting days became the rage on the net with voters clicking selfies as they voted. From a social media perspective each one of Modi's messages on facebook, tweets on twitter, and every ad on google has been strategically and skillfully crafted to ensure the progression and sustainability of Modi Mania throughout this 5 week long campaign.Both in the virtual world and the real world Modi was everytwhere. Sometimes along the lines of development, at other times along the lines of religion, or even personal attacks Modi and his team have in one way or another ensured they were dominating the political landscape throughout this campaign.  Perhaps it's Modis energetic and fiesty speeches and the superb command of his oratory skills both in english and hindi, or his teams strategic messaging while he addresses the masses via his rallies or video links or