Healthcare as an Electoral Agenda


Indian Journal of Community Medicine/Vol 39/Issue 3/July 2014 Something phenomenal has happened in India from April through May 2014, which cannot be ignored by healthcare professionals. In the largest-ever election in the world, 553.8 million people exercised their right to choose their next government. Considering 834.1 million total electors on the roll of Election Commission of India, the national voter turnout was an all-time high at 66.4% (comparable for males and females).(1) Similar voter surges were seen in 1984 (64.0%) and 1957 (62.2%), but the turnout spike this year was unprecedented considering that the 1984 polls were held in exceptional circumstances following the assassination of sitting Prime Minister. Even the highly charged post-emergency elections in 1977 could result only in 60.5% turnout. Low turnouts of 2004 (58.0%) and 2009 (58.2%) do not seem to fit in this discourse. We may never be able to fully fathom the reasons behind this phenomenon. Is it a marker of improving accuracy of electoral rolls, or the raised motivation of voters, or both? And to what extent were the voters pulled by real or perceived issues, or were they pushed by extrinsic forces? Equally important is to analyze the major barriers stopping a third of our electors from exercising their right to choose their government. Nonetheless, some qualitative inferences may still be made about what issues were on the radar of our voters. Based on a summary analysis of opinion polls conducted by various national and transnational agencies, the major issues that emerged from the wider narrative included: Price rise/inflation, roads-electricitywater, unemployment, corruption, economic slowdown, security-terrorism, and religious polarization.(2-5) And this was seen across all classes and regions. Health or healthcare did not figure in the list. At least this was not explicit. Contrary to this, with the opinion surveys conducted in a specimen of high-income country, for example the USA, where healthcare consistently stays among the top three concerns of the voters.(6) Europe is no different. Are people in different parts of the world thinking differently about their basic needs? Or the ruling classes in different parts of the world have choreographed the narrative differently?

DOI: 10.4103/0970-0218.137141

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Chaturvedi2014HealthcareAA, title={Healthcare as an Electoral Agenda}, author={Sanjay Kumar Chaturvedi}, booktitle={Indian journal of community medicine : official publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine}, year={2014} }