India is currently experiencing a significant downfall in terms of the economy, growth, and development of the country. It is well-established that the people in a political power engage in an enormous part in this issue. The integrity of India’s politicians has dwindled drastically. The heightening multitude of politicians with insufficient knowledge and potential to govern a nation are assigned power and this, in turn, is agonizing India’s democratic system. The choice of government and the politicians can have considerable consequences in almost all aspects of our lives. Politicians of India are responsible for executive powers, legislative powers, administrative powers, and appointment powers. Since India is a democracy, political parties and politicians along with their core values play a major role in the politics of India.
Through the electoral process, the people of India choose the representative and the political party which must run the government. In essence, the powers and responsibilities that the politicians of India hold are vast and play a monumental role in the growth, advancement, and development of our country, and that’s why the eligibility for a role of such enormous proportions should be comprehensive leaving no room for error or undeserving candidates. Laws and requirements constantly need to be updated and refined rather than being stagnant. These changes and improvements might potentially constitute a step towards the all-around progress of India.
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Eligibility of Candidates in India
Let’s now take a look at the current eligibility criteria for a candidate in India. Article 84 in the Constitution Of India 1949 states the qualifications or requirements for membership of Parliament.
A person shall not be qualified to be chosen to fill a seat in Parliament unless he:
(a) is a citizen of India, and makes and subscribed before some person authorized in that behalf by the Election Commission an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule;
(b) is, in the case of a seat in the Council of States, not less than thirty years of age and, in the case of a seat in the House of the People, not less than twenty-five years of age; and
(c) possesses such other qualifications as may be prescribed in that behalf by or under any law made by Parliament.
Comparative Analysis with other Countries
The President of the Republic of Singapore is the country’s head of state. Singapore’s system of governance runs in a parliamentary system of government.
Article 44(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore lays down the qualifications for membership of Parliament.
A person shall be qualified to be elected or appointed as a Member of Parliament if —
(a) he is a citizen of Singapore;
(b) he is of the age of 21 years or above on the day of nomination;
(c) his name appears in a current register of electors;
(d) he is resident in Singapore at the date of his nomination for election and has been so resident for periods amounting in the aggregate to not less than 10 years before that date;
(e) he is able, with a degree of proficiency sufficient to enable him to take an active part in the proceedings of Parliament, to speak and, unless incapacitated by blindness or other physical cause, to read and write at least one of the following languages, that is to say, English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil; and
(f) He is not disqualified from being a Member of Parliament under Article 45.
These are the requirements for a person to be a candidate in the elections for the prime minister of Singapore, the difference between the eligibility criteria in the constitution of Singapore and India include the age and a degree of proficiency to read and write at least one of the given languages.
The President of the Philippines is elected by direct vote by the people for a term of six years. The president is entitled to conform to his duties only for one term and there is no option of reelection. Article VII, Section 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines states that: No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election. This is similar to Singapore’s requirement of being able to read and write at least one of the given languages.
The president of the Republic of Turkey is the head of state. He is also the head of government of the Republic of Turkey who performs the duties of selection and appointment, apart from additional obligations and responsibilities conferred by the Constitution and statutes, The president is eligible for one reelection.
Article 101 of the Constitution of Turkey establishes the qualifications for the eligibility of becoming a President in Turkey.
It states that The President of the Republic shall be elected for a term of office of five years by the Turkish Grand National Assembly from among its members who are over 40 years of age and who have completed their higher education or from among Turkish citizens who fulfill these requirements and are eligible to be deputies.
The nomination of a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic from outside the Turkish Grand National Assembly shall require a written proposal by at least one-fifth of the total number of members of the Assembly. The President-elect, if a member of a party, shall sever his relations with his party, and his status as a member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly shall cease. Apart from the regulation of age, Turkey mandates presidential candidates to have completed and obtained their higher education degree.
The president of the Republic of Azerbaijan is the head of state of Azerbaijan, he is in charge of the country and rules over the country through his executive office, the Presidential Administration, comprising a group of secretaries and departmental ministers. Article 100 of the Constitution states that one must be no younger than 35, a permanent resident of Azerbaijan for 10 years, possess the right to vote, have not been convicted of a crime, hold no liabilities in other states, hold a university degree, and not have dual citizenship to become president.
Azerbaijan, the nation and former Soviet republic is one of the few countries that require political candidates to hold a university degree of some manner to be eligible as a candidate for presidential elections; extensively other countries only mandate literacy, and even literacy to be encompassed into the eligibility criteria would be a step forward for India.
Problems with the Current Requirements for Candidates in India
India is a diverse and politically erratic nation, with bureaucratic crises of immense proportions. The current requirements for becoming a politician in India are as basic as age, citizenship, and not having a criminal record. This means any Indian citizen with or without minimum education can become a politician. Laws must be amended to increase and enhance the eligibility criteria for a citizen to become a politician. No law requires an aspiring politician to be aware of current affairs, international relations, important laws and regulations, mental skills, and abilities to handle social and economic issues. There are no tests conducted by the government to analyze if a person is capable and worthy of making sensible, logical, and prudent decisions to improve the standard of living and solve issues faced by citizens of a particular country or state. These requirements are so minimal because the laws have not been updated or revised since they were first made. But with changing times and increased education facilities, the old laws are not on par with the current scenario. With the current laws, even an illiterate with no basic or analytical skills can become a politician.
If the state is bestowed in the hands of such individuals, there will not be any prominent development in the welfare of the citizens. They will not have the necessary skills or education to handle any emergency which requires immense knowledge and pressure. If an educated person with immense knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom is in charge of the state or country, there will be noticeable improvements in financial, social, and economic issues. Politicians are high authority leaders who make extremely critical decisions for the country. The whole nation is required and expected to follow all the decisions made by these politicians. When a person with no minimum educational qualifications makes such decisions for the entire country or state it might not be as efficient and yielding as the decisions taken by an educated individual with high moral and ethical values.
Why more rigid Eligibility Criteria should be Enforced
Every day, more and more people are becoming interested in politics. However, a predominant problem that transpires is the lack of qualifications for probable candidates. This has led to some unreliable and unqualified individuals being elected to public office and others procuring positions without any essential qualifications. Eligibility criteria must include qualifications that ensure the outcome of the results in a manner wherein only worthy candidates succeed as well as curtailing the risk of incompetent candidates participating in the elections. A core or a foundation always has to be rigid for the rest to unfold properly, and eligibility criteria is that core or the foundation, and only when the qualifications and requirements of the eligibility criteria are satisfactory the results will be satisfactory and favorable as well.
Through competency exams, the citizens will be capable of identifying efficient candidates who can make reasonable and sensible decisions based on their skills to analyze the issues faced by society and bring changes that are beneficial for the people. There must be a set of criteria that must be fulfilled by every political aspirant for them to become politicians such as education, decision-making skills, analytical skills, political awareness, strategizing skills, and must be mentally strong and emotionally stable for them to handle societal pressure and implement necessary changes for improving the welfare of the nation. When customary jobs that don’t influence or have an impact on the general population have such high qualifications and requirements, then a title of political power should have the highest of qualifications and requirements since they are assigned to make important decisions which the entire nation must abide by.
Education is one of the essential factors for the overall development of a country. It improves society as a whole, increases productivity, creativity and plays a vital role in securing economic and social progress. Education provides exposure to various information on how to deal with future crises and how crises have been dealt with previously, this will provide awareness and insight to a person having to deal with them. Whether it’s the formulation of policies or making decisions, though education might not be an absolute necessity, it certainly aids in the process of being a knowledgeable leader. Along with education qualification, basic requirements such as decision making, analytical skills, and emotional stability must be looked into as well. A country cannot and should not be left in the hands of illiterates who are incapable of benefiting and developing the country. There are numerous lives at stake and a leader is someone who should be competent enough to deliver what’s best for the people. There are a considerable number of exceptions of leaders who have achieved greatness without education, but the chances of an educated person being able to do that is more likely. The eligibility criteria can provide the foundation that might or might not bring the elevation or the collapse of a nation. When such high authoritative power is given to capable hands, they will efficiently achieve the targeted results. Since political candidates can influence the prevailing advancement of the nation, they must be well educated and qualified to embark upon such a high post.
BY NIYARAH RAFI & SIVAANY SENTHILKUMAR | SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE IN LAW