Are You Really Qualified To Vote? Take This Test To Find Out

5 questions you should ask yourself whenever voting is round the corner.

Are You Really Qualified To Vote? Take This Test To Find Out

Ratna and Nadim Siraj

June 10, 2024: The election fever is behind us. The media frenzy about the results and analysis will now slowly begin to die down. Looking back at the 2024 general elections in India, one thing most consistent about voting is that most voters are deeply passionate about taking part in the democratic exercise. That’s because the act of voting gives them the power to decide who will be in power.

Now, since the act voting is a vitally important component of Indian society, and any other democratic set-up, have you ever wondered why there’s no system in place to professionally educate voters about voting? There are professional institutions that teach us everything under the sun – schools, colleges, academies, universities, training institutes, exchange programmes, centres of excellence, skill development centres, etc.

But when it comes to the vitally important skill of voting, there are no exclusive schools or academic bodies dedicated to train voters. As a result, you are basically an untrained voter, be it for local by-polls or assembly polls or general elections.

At Empire Diaries, we have put together a set of five questions for you as a voter. In the backdrop of the just-concluded 2024 general elections, ask yourself these five questions; you’ll realise why voters need at least some degree of professional training. Let’s look at the questions, one by one.

Question 1: Why does no one want to free the colonised economy?

There are a lot of so-called sensible people who go out to vote with one issue in mind: how to get the economy fixed. My question to them is – have you noticed that there is a deep, wide, and firm foreign control over the Indian economy? Right now, more than 17,000 foreign companies are directly and indirectly doing business on Indian soil. Through their business operations in India, a huge number of them are earning profits – many are earning massive profits.

But they are not investing those profits back into the Indian economy. Instead, the profit-makers are transferring a vast majority of their earnings, or revenues, or profits straight out of India, and into their home countries.

Effectively, it’s a collective transfer of finances from the Indian economy to foreign economies via multiple foreign-headquartered companies.

A couple of years back, a research team investigated and discovered that foreign companies and other international bodies together suck out an estimated $500 billion out of India every single year. It includes direct and undeclared outflow of India’s financial wealth. India’s loss becomes foreign countries’ gain. That’s because the money that leaves India gets invested in the countries where the companies are headquartered.

This outward transfer of money happens under various names, such as repatriation of profits and trade deficit. In fact, the money leak is happening as you are watching this report. It’s unspectacular and slow, hence, one doesn’t easily detect it. Plus, the mainstream media never talks about it. And those who talk about it are either shallow politicians, or two-faced Leftist vote-seekers.

The phenomenal money drain started very slowly since 1947, because even though the British invaders left physically, the outside world’s invisible economic tentacles remained. Then the money outflow steadily picked up pace since the early 1990s when the doors to India’s vast financial wealth were thrown open to business families from other countries.

Fact is, the current annual money drain out of India is estimated to be 2.1 times more than what British colonisers used to steal from India annually, according to research.

Think about India as your family, and the Indian economy as your family’s bank account. As a family, we Indians are welcoming thousands of foreign-origin MNCs to pull most of the money out of the family account. Ideally, Indian authorities should ask them to invest at least 50% of their earnings or revenues back into the Indian economy, if not more. That doesn’t happen. Therefore, the non-stop money outflow is making India poorer and poorer. The country is leaking money like a sieve.

Coming back to the question of voting – so, who should take charge of fixing this financial leak? Your favourite election candidates, shouldn’t they? As a voter, don’t you think that every time there’s an election, you should cast your vote keeping question this in mind? Have you thought about telling your favourite candidates to stop foreign MNCs from siphoning India’s financial wealth?

While voting, do you worry about this enormous money outflow? Does it ever cross your mind? If the leak is fixed, the Indian economy’s money will mostly stay back at home. As a result, the country will steadily start becoming prosperous. It’s not complicated economics. It’s simple math!

Average household incomes will start going up because the money locked up within the economy will find its way to the domestic population. And many of India’s systemic problems, which are related to fund crunch, will be resolved due to newly available cash. Does this question cross your mind on voting day? If it doesn’t, there’s something wrong with how we’re taught or groomed to vote.

Question 2: Why does no one want to fix the trade deficit?

Here’s another perennial and unanswered question about protecting India’s financial wealth, which is also your financial wealth. Why does India constantly suffer from a huge trade deficit?

India imports, or buys, way more goods and services from abroad than it exports to the outside world. Again, let’s consider India as a family. The family is earning a small amount of money by exporting things. But it’s spending a fortune buying a lot of foreign stuff, most of which can be produced at home. So, we are selling very little, but buying a lot.

Naturally, the family’s net money balance is always going to be negative. The trade deficit will go on ballooning.

As of last year, India’s trade deficit was about $122 billion. Let’s look at India’s export-import data from 1960 to 2022, spanning 62 years. You will notice that India had an annual trade surplus only five times in these six decades. The country recorded annual trade deficit as many as 57 times. When you go out to vote, shouldn’t this question be on your mind? Because it matters to you and your pocket.

Ask yourself if your candidates really worries about fixing this perpetual trade deficit. Do you think they can or want to fix a problem that’s been around since 1947? Shouldn’t this question cross your mind whenever polls are round the corner?

Question 3: Why does no one want to stop the brain drain?

The next question is about the brain drain that India has been facing since its independence. India’s brightest brains routinely leave the country. They run away to the West or to other places for higher salaries and a better living.

School, college, and university toppers eagerly wait for jobs abroad. In India, parents bring up their children dreaming of sending them to London, Paris, Silicon Valley, Australia, Singapore, and so on. Due to this mass tendency to escape, India has been strangled by a constant brain drain that started in 1947.

The sharpest, most innovative, and most enterprising youngsters usually settle abroad, join foreign companies or foreign welfare organisations, and help those countries prosper and boom. Well, they do send back remittances to India. But it is only a small fraction compared to the larger loss the Indian economy suffers due to the absence of the best minds.

With the cream of India gone, India is left with only a second string of bright minds. And that directly impacts the overall quality of the domestic workforce and leadership.

Last year, a study found something alarming. Among the top 1,000 scorers in the joint entrance exams for IIT a few years back, around 36% went abroad. And among the top 100 scorers, 62% went abroad. Two years ago, the number of Indian students leaving India for higher education abroad hit an all-time high. The figure was an astounding 7.7 lakh students.

Here’s more – in the last nine years, about nine lakh NRIs (non-resident Indians) gave up their Indian citizenship. By the end of 2024, 18 lakh students are expected to spend about $85 billion to study abroad. Imagine the quantity of money leaving the Indian economy. Why? So that Indian youngsters can go abroad to study, and in most cases, never come back.

By settling down abroad, they will help some other country’s economy grow. We’re not asking you to be xenophobic towards the outside world. It is migration that built civilisation and helped expand it. The point here is, someone needs to put the country in a good shape. So that our brightest minds voluntarily feel willing to stay back here, and contribute to the native economy and society.

If this brain drain can be stopped or at least reduced without using rigid rules, then India’s best talent will work for India, and the country will blossom and prosper. When you go out to vote, do you consider if your candidates have this problem in mind?

Question 4: Why does no one want to end over-taxation?

The next question is about over-taxation. It’s not about the routine, superficial issue of rising taxes and falling income. That issue is widely debated by politicians and the mainstream media to manipulate voter emotion ahead of elections.

Our question is deeper and bigger. It’s not about tax rates. It’s about you as a voter constantly being overtaxed and never being made aware of it.

Do you wonder why you get taxed over and over again on the same money? When your salary comes in, you pay a personal income tax. So, your income is already taxed. It shouldn’t be taxed again. But even after paying income tax, you again pay taxes multiple times on the same income.

Every time you buy something with the taxed income, you pay a new tax. Apart from income tax, you pay GST on what you purchase, you pay toll tax for travelling, registration fees for various things, renewal fees for various things, property tax, gift tax, wealth tax, taxes on fuel, and much more.

Take the case of GST, for example. Ideally, companies should pay GST to the government. But in reality, the system is designed precisely for the opposite to happen. Companies pay GST, but they don’t bear it at all. It’s you who bears the burden and pays GST. Companies openly add GST to the price of their goods and services. The tax burden gets shifted to you. It’s you, the voter, who alone pays the transaction taxes.

Take the case of the two essential fossil fuels: petrol and diesel. When the market price of petrol is, say, Rs 96, its base price is only Rs 57. But oil marketing companies such as Bharat Petroleum, Indian Oil, and Hindustan Petroleum add a huge amount of taxes to the base price. They add four taxes: freight, excise, dealer commission, and VAT. All that burden falls straight on you, the voter.

It’s a clear case of over-taxation. And it’s a much larger problem for you than rising income tax rates. When you vote, do you consider this angle? Have you ever thought about asking your favourite candidates if they want to end the practice of over-taxation?

Question 5: Why does no one want to stop the rupee’s freefall?

Many voters worry a lot about inflation when election season is round the corner. But they go one step deeper? Do they wonder why the Indian rupee has been consistently falling in value ever since independence?

The rupee’s value against the US dollar, the world’s most powerful currency, has never ever gone up. It has only gone down and down. In 1947, one dollar could be exchanged for Rs 3.30. Fast forward to 1990, the exchange rate was: $1 was equal to Rs 17. Then in 2011, the rupee crashed further. It needed Rs 55 to buy a dollar.

At the time of publishing this report, $1 was equal to Rs 83.52. Very soon, the rupee will become so weak that you’ll need Rs 100 to buy one dollar. This constant fall of the Indian rupee has cost the Indian economy dearly.

One, it keeps igniting domestic inflation from time to time. Wave after wave, inflation keeps coming, unabated. For the working class, their salaries go down in value every subsequent month due to the perpetual state of inflation.

Two, because the rupee is getting weaker and weaker against the global reserve currency, routine imports are becoming costlier and costlier for India. So, India is leaking more and more money for the same quantity of goods that it is importing.

Three, as the rupee continues to fall in value, it gets easier, or more incentivised, for wealthy foreign investors to start businesses in India. As time goes by and the value of the rupee drops, investors need to bring in much fewer dollars to start a business in India. Similarly, they need to spend fewer dollars to take over an Indian business.

All along, as the rupee weakens, the financial power of the working class and local business owners keeps going down and down. During election season, have you given this perpetual crisis a thought? Do you go beyond the basic problem of inflation and think deeply about the larger problem of the falling rupee?

There are many more questions that we can raise, which should cross the voter’s mind during elections – questions that don’t get asked. But we’ll draw a line here. The whole point of this exercise of five-questions-you-should-ask is to test yourself as a voter; to make you realise one thing. That you, as a voter, have not been professionally trained to vote. In fact, you’ve been left untrained; possibly by design?

So, why would you be left untrained as a voter? Is it because that’s the whole point and that’s how the system is designed? Is it because if you had the right training, you would ask these deeper questions? Because if you start asking these deeper questions, they will take you down the rabbit-hole of how power, hegemony, and empire actually work.

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