United Voters of India: The Logic of Collective Action (Part 2)

The Idea

Atanu Dey had first outlined the idea of United Voters of India (UVI) a few years ago in his book, Transforming India:

We know that the politicians cynically divide the country along religion, caste, and linguistic lines. This fractures the population into very small groups and allows the political parties to win seats with only a small minority of votes in their favor.

To counter this, we have to create an artificial vote bank of people who have the capacity to think long-term, desire economic and personal freedoms (not just political freedom), and are willing to work together to bring about change for the public good. Urban educated people will form the core constituency of this vote bank. We call this association of voters the “United Voters of India” or UVI. It’s motto: Good governance through participation.

It is likely that a significant percentage of India’s urban educated population are motivated people who have the capacity to understand what good policies are, know the importance of electing capable policymakers, and whose interests are aligned with the broader long-term national interest of India.

It is possible that the around 175 urban parliamentary constituencies of India have an aggregate of 30 million or so people who are really interested in good governance. If they can be consolidated into a “vote bank” and persuaded to vote en bloc, it is possible that they can swing elections and be a force to contend with.

… UVI…is a vote bank of urban educated voters. We need this vote bank to counter the baleful effects of other existing vote banks that are based on demographic characteristics such as caste and religion. Like other vote banks, UVI aggregates the preferences of a group of people and thereby it amplifies the demand of the group.

In the case of UVI, the demand is better governance. This demand aggregation will therefore force political parties and politicians to supply good governance. For example, if UVI is a sufficiently large vote bank, then it will improve the quality of our elected officials since UVI demands competent and honest politicians.

…You can think of it as a cooperative. Coops gain bargaining power by aggregating their demand. This is also similar to labor unions in which individuals achieve bargaining power by being part of a larger body.

Votebanks or voting blocs are not uncommon in India – political parties know this and exploit them for electoral success. There has never been a voting bloc for prosperity. This is what UVI must become. 60 crore non-aligned and non-voters, two-thirds of India’s electors, is the target group for the creation of UVI. They are not loyal to any of the existing political parties. If a significant chunk of the non-aligned and non-voters (NANVs) can be persuaded to come together to form a loose coalition in the form of UVI, political change and economic betterment is possible. UVI is the spark that can fire the Indian Revolution.

Tomorrow: Part 3

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.