Thursday, December 28, 2017

Your vote is worth at least Rs 5 lakhs

How much each vote is worthy? In some constituencies voters do get paid a couple of hundreds and in some it could be a few thousands. Can we do a valuation to arrive at what could be the fair price for each vote?

For this, first I looked at GDP per capita figures. It is $1709 per year. Converting this at an exchange rate of 64 rupee a dollar gives Rs. 1,09,376. Yes, every person in our country contributes a lakh rupee (on average) to the economy each year. Since election do come at every five years, cumulatively each person would have contributed around Rs.5.5 lakhs in that period. If we take GDP per capita as a proxy for valuation of vote, each vote is worth Rs. 5.5 lakhs of impact to economy. Since those aged under 21 do not vote but are counted for GDP per capita, this valuation figure may marginally go up.

So now think before you vote. If a politician is giving a couple of thousands to vote for him, it is dirt cheap, really. Think of the impact your vote is making on this country’s economy. If we elect law makers who manipulate systems for their own benefit, they are robbing away the benefits a flourishing economy gives to its citizens. Our central govt. has a budget to the tune of USD 200B a year. They collect so much in taxes (and little deficit is borrowed) and decide where that money should be spent on. Your vote has a share in that since it is public money.

My objective is to make each voter think like he or she is giving Rs. 5 lakhs out of their pocket to the person they are casting their vote. They need to think "Will that person make proper use of those funds?".  "Will he give higher benefits in return?" Yes, it is a social investment each voter is making. The better fund manager they chose, the better are the returns.

Can we have a financial metric for politicians? India is a democracy, we can and should have such a metric. Well, in reality we are not that mature. But if the voter become aware that their vote is actually worth lot more than they think of, it would lead to better selection. And those who do not vote should get a feel that their 5 lakh rupees is down the drain. That would lead higher participation and a better outcome from elections.