As India sets on course for the Lok Sabha election 2019, the voter turnout ratio holds immense importance. However, poverty and deprivation may prevent people from stepping out of their homes to exercise their most fundamental right, if a study of the past voter turnout data is any indicator. It has been seen that poor people in India vote less, the latest SBI Ecowrap report shows.
Certain northern states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, which have higher poverty ratios, record lower voter turnout, said the SBI report. On the other hand, states such as Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Punjab, which have lower rates of deprivation, show higher voter turnout.
India has reduced its poverty rate sharply to 28 per cent from 55 per cent between 2005-06 and 2015-16, according to a new version of the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). With this, it has moved 27.10 crore people out poverty. Yet, a significant portion of the population remains below the poverty line, experiencing various kind of deprivations.
Multidimensional Poverty Index by Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative is based on deprivations that each person faced with respect to education, health and living standard. It is in this context that the SBI report analyses the voter turnout patterns.
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For example, most southern and northern states which have been home to agricultural revolution have more conscious voter, said the SBI report. Further, most of the North-East and Eastern states have higher turnout rates and varied levels of poverty, the report added.
Socio-political factors such as population size, age, educational attainment, political interest and economic backwardness hold immense power to affect the election outcome in many regions, said the report.
Meanwhile, it has also been found that the improvement in women empowerment increases women turnout rate during voting. India is witnessing an improvement in the level of women empowerment in the country, which is evident from the national women percentage share, which is 73.6 percent for MUDRA and 53 percent for PMJDY. This will also likely to have an impact on the election outcomes in the country.