The Hindu Editorial Analysis- 11 March 2024

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The Hindu Editorial Analysis- 11 March 2024

1. Spending on political campaigns must be restricted.

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Important aspects of governance – Transparency and accountability 
Candidates for the UPSC must comprehend the effects of disproportionate government advertising, electoral reforms, and difficulties in upholding a fair electoral process.

● The article highlights previous disputes and suggests electoral reforms to guarantee fairness and reduce unreported spending in order to address concerns about the government’s excessive spending on advertisements prior to Indian elections.


  • Pre-election advertisements are receiving significant funding from both federal and state governments, which raises questions about equity and possible misuse of public funds.

Ad Spend and Controversy:

  • The ‘India Shining’ campaign, launched in 2004 by the BJP-led government, caused a ₹150 crore controversy due to accusations of misusing public funds.
  • With a notable uptick in the election year of 2018–19, the Central government spent ₹3,020 crore on advertisements between 2018–19 and 2022–2023, according to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

Supreme Court Guidelines:

  • In an effort to preserve fair competition, the Supreme Court issued rules governing government advertising in 2015 and 2016.
  • Notwithstanding these regulations, governing administrations frequently have an advantage when it comes to advertising prior to elections, which may compromise fairness.

Election Expenditure Limits:

  • There are expenditure caps for candidates: ₹95 lakh for larger states and ₹75 lakh for smaller states for each Lok Sabha seat.
  • The frequently broken boundaries imply that winning is generally preferred in Indian elections.

Political Parties’ Expenditure:

  • During elections, political parties are not subject to any spending caps.
  • For the 2019 elections, the BJP and Congress officially announced their respective budgets of ₹1,264 crore and ₹820 crore.
  • However, the Centre for Media Studies notes that there is an unclear funding structure and projects a total expenditure of about ₹50,000 crore.

Need for Electoral Reforms:

  • To reduce unreported expenses, the Indrajit Gupta Committee (1998) and the Law Commission report (1999) suggested that the state finance elections.
  • The problem still exists despite the electoral bonds scheme’s failure, and the CMS estimates that ₹1 lakh crore will be spent on the general elections of 2024.

Proposed Electoral Reforms:Ad Ban and Financial Assistance Limits:

  • Six months prior to a general election, suggest a ban on government advertisements in order to avoid undue influence.
  • Change the law to limit a party’s ability to give money to its candidate beyond the specified limits for election expenditures.

Ceiling on Party Expenditure:

  • Establish a cap on party spending, which will be determined by multiplying the amount of money a candidate can raise by the total number of candidates the party is fielding.

Judicial Measures:

  • To discourage the breaking of norms, appoint more judges to High Courts to expedite cases pertaining to elections.


  • Both political will and bipartisan support are needed to put these reforms into action.
  • In the absence of such adjustments, citizens will continue to be negatively impacted by the burden of excessive election costs, underscoring the urgent need for action to guarantee free and fair elections.

Issues with electoral spending in India

● Overspending: In India, election campaigns are frequently characterised by excessive spending, which puts a financial burden on political parties and candidates.
● Lack of Transparency: It is challenging to monitor and control the flow of money in elections due to the opaqueness of funding sources.
● Money Power Influence: Excessive spending has the potential to give wealthy people and corporations undue influence, endangering the democratic process.
● Unfair Playing Field: Fair competition is undermined when small or newly formed political parties must contend with well-funded, established parties.

Way Forward:
● Tighter Regulations: To stop campaign expenses from rising, tighter laws governing electoral spending should be put in place and strictly enforced.
Implement measures to improve political funding transparency, such as requiring donors to disclose their contributions and political parties to disclose the amount they spend on elections.
● Public Funding: To lessen the reliance of elections on individual contributions, consider the possibility of augmenting public funding for elections.
● Digital Campaigning: To level the playing field and lessen reliance on conventional, more costly methods, promote the use of affordable digital platforms for campaigning.
● Educational Initiatives: Run public awareness campaigns to inform voters about the value of examining candidates more closely than just their eye-catching campaigns, thereby creating an informed electorate.

An all-encompassing strategy that addresses spending caps, openness, public funding, and creative campaign strategies can help India’s electoral process become more transparent and equitable.

PYQ: To enhance the quality of democracy in India the Election Commission of India has proposed electoral reforms in 2016. What are the suggested reforms and how far are they significant to make democracy successful? (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017)
Practice Question:  How does excessive government ad spending impact electoral fairness in India, and what reforms can ensure a level playing field? (150 Words /10 marks)

2. The State Bank, electoral bonds, and the art of dodging

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Important aspects of governance – Transparency and accountability 
Candidates for the UPSC should read the article on the Supreme Court’s ruling on electoral bonds in order to gain knowledge about political financing, governance, and transparency.

● The article highlights transparency, implementation challenges, and the impact on voter rights in discussing the Supreme Court of India’s historic decision declaring the electoral bond scheme unconstitutional.


  • The Supreme Court of India ruled on February 15, 2024, in a landmark ruling that the electoral bond scheme was unconstitutional. The court criticised the scheme for allowing political parties to receive unlimited anonymous funding.
  • The plan sparked questions about the power of large money in politics and led the court to act decisively.

Directive to Stop Issuance and Disclose Information:

  • The State Bank of India (SBI), the authorised issuer and encasher of electoral bonds, was ordered by the Supreme Court to stop issuing bonds.
  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) was ordered by the court to receive two sets of information from the SBI within 21 days so that they could be posted on the website.

Details of Purchased Electoral Bonds:

  • The first set of data included information on electoral bonds bought after April 12, 2019, such as the date of purchase, the name of the buyer, and the type of bond.

Details of Redeemed Electoral Bonds:

  • The second set included information about electoral bonds that political parties had redeemed during that same period of time, including the bond denomination and encashment date.

SBI’s Affidavit and Request for Extension:

  • The SBI submitted an affidavit two days prior to the court deadline, stating that it would be unable to comply within the allotted time.
  • The bank asserted the need for an extra four months, citing the difficulty in interpreting, contrasting, and releasing data as a result of donor data being divided into discrete silos and there not being a central database.

Absurdity of SBI’s Request:

  • According to the affidavit, 22,217 electoral bonds have been used for political donations since April 2019. Donor information is kept in sealed covers at SBI branches.
  • The SBI justified the extended timeline by claiming that it would be difficult to match purchaser and redeemer information for these bonds that were both physically and digitally stored.

Public Suspicion and Allegations:

  • The SBI’s intentions were questioned by the public, who believed the bank was trying to keep donor identities a secret until the general election of 2024.
  • The electoral process’s accountability and transparency were called into question by the delay in compliance.

Supreme Court’s Emphasis on Voter’s Right to Know:

  • In its ruling, the court emphasised that voters have a right to information, particularly with regard to the financial support that political parties receive and how that support may affect elections and policy decisions.
  • The court emphasised that voters should have access to information about political party funding sources in order to evaluate any potential relationship between financial contributions and policy decisions, given the influence of corporate funding.

Call for Supreme Court’s Intervention:

  • Under Article 19(1)(a), the voter has a constitutional right to know, and the Supreme Court is urged to uphold the judgment’s deadlines for providing information about electoral bonds.
  • The court plays a critical role in maintaining openness, avoiding red tape, and giving voters the information they need to make an informed choice in the next general election.


  • The Supreme Court’s historic ruling on the electoral bond programme emphasises how crucial it is for political financing to be transparent, requiring timeliness and protecting voters’ right to information.
  • In order to uphold the democratic ideals of accountability and transparency, the judiciary must exercise vigilant oversight over the SBI’s request for an extension, which raises questions about the integrity of the electoral process.

Issues with electoral Bond scheme
– Lack of transparency: Because donors’ and political parties’ identities are kept private, the electoral bond programme has come under fire for lacking transparency. There are worries that this opacity could allow black money to sway elections.
– Money laundering concerns: According to critics, electoral bonds’ anonymity renders them vulnerable to money laundering and facilitates the influx of illicit funds into political campaigns, thereby compromising the integrity of the democratic process.
– Unequal distribution: Because there is no cap on the total amount of money a political party can receive through electoral bonds, the scheme has been accused of favouring the ruling party. As a result, there can be an unfair playing field and disadvantage for the other parties.
– Corporate donation caps are circumvented: Electoral bonds give corporations the ability to donate without revealing their identities. This could allow them to surpass legal donation caps and jeopardise the integrity of laws governing political funding.
– Lack of public accountability: The public’s ability to make informed decisions about the influence of money in politics is hampered by political parties’ lack of transparency when it comes to donor information.

Practice Question: Talk about the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling that the electoral bond programme is unconstitutional for increasing the transparency of political financing. (10 marks, 150 words)

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