India Votes: Making Free and Fair Elections in the World’s Largest Democracy

A conversation with Navin B. Chawla, former Chief of the Election Commission of India

India is not only the world’s largest democracy.  It is also enormous in population and area and diverse in language, religion, and class, with a spirited press, concentrations of great wealth, a large number of poor and illiterate voters, and a long history of political violence.  The Election Commission is charged with the daunting task of ensuring that India’s federal elections are free, fair, and peaceful.

As the Chief of the Election Commission, Navin B. Chawla oversaw the 2009 elections to the Indian parliament, the Lok Sabha, and he continues as an influential commentator on the practice of Indian democracy.  In this wide-ranging discussion moderated by Mark Hansen, professor of Political Science, Chawla reviewed the Election Commission’s role in facilitating participation, regulating conduct and safeguarding the process against violence, and promoting impartial administration.

Navin Chawla is the former Chief Election Commissioner of India. He conducted the 2009 general election in India, and has been responsible for a number of reforms in the electoral process. He served in a variety of Union Government appointments and other public positions before becoming an Election Commissioner, and is also known for his work with and biography of Mother Teresa.

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