Jammu & Kashmir's Repeated Reaffirmed Faith in the Democratic Setup of India: A Study of the State's Public Participation in the General Elections of India (1967-2014)
Purpose: - The up-rise of social unrest in the state of Jammu & Kashmir (the federal constituent of the Union of India) towards the end of the 20th century with the demand to secede from the union of India has somewhere earned the Jammu & Kashmir as a conflict zone in the South Asia. The present study has been conceived to examine the public participation of the Jammu & Kashmir state in the democratic process of the country, by participating in the general elections of India (A referendum or plebiscite of its own kind, whereby people of the state, time and again have reaffirmed their faith in the democratic process of the country) since its accession with the union of India. Some of the aspects evaluated in the present study include, electoral participation, participation of national and local level political parties, participation and performance of national level political parties, representation given to women candidates, etc.Scope: - The study is confined to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, India and the findings have direct bearing with the state, which has altogether a different geopolitical setup, where public interests stand safeguarded by the constitution of India under article 370. There is every need to observe caution, while generalizing the findings of the study.Methodology/Approach: - The study is empirical in nature, undertaken on the secondary data, retrieved from the official website of the Election Commission of India on August 02, 2014.Findings: - The state of Jammu and Kashmir has so far undergone through 12 general elections in the country. The average voter turnout during these elections from the state remained about 46.76%. At gender level the average voter turnout percentage among males remained 60% & for females 39.90%, which compared to voter turnout at national level during the same period at gender level remained 62.39% and 55.45% respectively. The voter turnout percentage from the state remained far better than various other states of the country for the same period. The threat perception to not to participate in the electoral process of the country that prevailed over state populace post 1989 got reflected in the subsequent 7 general elections held in the state, especially among female folk, resulting decline in their turnout percentage, when compared to their male counterparts.Social Implications: - The study is an eye opener to the public at large and to those, who are abetting the Jammu & Kashmir's secession movement by crying that the state is devoid of democracy. The secession movement which is being backed by the money & the munitions questions its own credibility & justification. (original abstract)
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