Stop the Dithering and Encourage Green Elections in India


12:27 AM

1 min read
Stop the Dithering and Encourage Green Elections in India Blog Image

Why in News?

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) has recently highlighted the environmental risks associated with traditional election materials, urging a transition to eco-friendly practices.
  • As the world's most populous democracy, India must prioritise environmental considerations in its electoral processes.
  • The government must look into overlooked environmental footprint of elections, successful eco-friendly electoral initiatives in Kerala, Sri Lanka, and Estonia, and a blueprint for a green transition involving various stakeholders.

The Need for a Paradigm Shift in Elections Conduct

  • Overlooked Environmental Footprint of Elections
    • The emissions from campaign flights during the 2016 US presidential elections illustrate the significant carbon footprint associated with traditional election methods.
    • Traditional election practices, including paper-based materials, energy-intensive rallies, and disposable items, contribute to environmental degradation and impact citizens' health.
    • The sheer magnitude of India's elections worsens these issues, necessitating a paradigm shift towards green elections.
  • Alarming Research Insights
    • A research from Estonia (2023) identifies transportation to and from polling booths as the primary source of carbon emissions during elections.
    • The secondary source is the operational footprint of polling booths.
    • Transitioning to digital voting systems could reduce the overall carbon footprint by up to 40%. 

Challenges and Potential Solutions in Implementing Eco-Friendly Elections

  • Technological Challenges: Infrastructure Requirements and Security Concerns
    • The transition to digital voting systems necessitates a robust technological infrastructure, especially in rural and remote areas where connectivity might be limited.
    • Ensuring the security and integrity of digital voting systems is paramount.
    • Measures against hacking, fraud, and manipulation must be comprehensive to maintain public trust in the electoral process.
  • Financial Challenges: Upfront Costs and Budget Allocation
    • The adoption of eco-friendly materials and technology incurs substantial upfront costs.
    • Governments facing financial constraints may be hesitant to invest in these initiatives despite the long-term environmental benefits.
    • Elections already demand significant financial resources and allocating additional funds for environmentally friendly practices may compete with other essential priorities.
  • Behavioural Challenges: Cultural Change and Public Scepticism
    • There exists a cultural significance in valuing the physical presence of voters at polling booths as a fundamental aspect of the democratic process.
    • Convincing voters of the efficacy and security of digital methods may face resistance.
    • Public scepticism towards new approaches, fuelled by concerns about potential compromises to vote security, poses a significant challenge.
    • Building trust in the reliability and transparency of new technologies is essential.
  • Transparency and Auditing
    • The shift towards eco-friendly and digital methods should be accompanied by transparent practices.
    • Establishing mechanisms for the effective auditing of new adaptations is crucial to address concerns about accountability and fairness.
    • Creating awareness among the public about the transparency and auditability of new electoral practices is essential for overcoming scepticism and building confidence in the electoral system.
  • Logistical Challenges
    • Implementing large-scale changes in electoral practices requires meticulous planning and coordination.
    • From the procurement of eco-friendly materials to the training of officials, the logistical challenges should be addressed systematically.

The Successful Models of Eco-Friendly Electoral Initiatives

  • Kerala and Goa Model
    • During the 2019 general election, the Kerala State Election Commission urged political parties to avoid single-use plastic materials while campaigning.
    • Subsequently, the Kerala High Court imposed a ban on flex and non-biodegradable materials in electioneering and wall graffiti and paper posters emerged as alternatives.
    • Government bodies collaborated with the district administration in Thiruvananthapuram to ensure a green election and training sessions were conducted in villages for election workers.
    • In 2022, the Goa State Biodiversity Board had eco-friendly election booths for the Assembly elections, using biodegradable materials crafted by local traditional artisans.
  • The Sri Lanka Model
    • In 2019, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party launched the world’s first carbon-sensitive environmentally friendly election campaign.
    • It measured carbon emissions from vehicles and electricity used during political campaigns and compensated for the emissions by planting trees in each district through public participation.
    • This offset the immediate carbon footprint of the campaign and drew awareness about the importance of forest cover.
  • Estonian Example
    • Estonia laid the foundations for digital voting as an online voting alternative. This method also encouraged voter participation.
    • The success of Estonia’s approach suggests that digital voting accompanied by robust security measures is both eco- and electorate-friendly.

A Blueprint for Green Elections

  • Political Initiatives and Digital Campaign Platforms
    • Political parties must take the lead by enacting legislation that mandates eco-friendly electoral practices.
    • This involves incorporating such practices into the Model Code of Conduct, outlining the rules governing election campaigns.
    • Encouraging political campaigns to utilise digital platforms for outreach or engage in door-to-door campaigning can significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with energy-intensive public rallies.
  • Incentives for Sustainable Materials and Infrastructure Support
    • Providing incentives for political parties to replace plastic and paper-based materials with sustainable alternatives(natural fabrics, recycled paper,etc) for election-related activities, to supportwaste management and local artisans.
    • Governments can invest in the necessary infrastructure for digital voting, particularly in rural areas.
    • This includes ensuring reliable internet connectivity and accessible digital devices for all voters.
  • ECI’s Role with Government Support
    • The Election Commission of India can play a pivotal role by advocating for digital voting systems.
    • This includes promoting the environmental benefits of digital voting and addressing security concerns through comprehensive measures.
  • Public Awareness Campaigns
    • Civil society organisations can spearhead public awareness campaigns highlighting the environmental impact of conventional election methods and championing eco-friendly alternatives.
    • This creates a groundswell of support for green electoral practices.
    • Civil society can actively monitor the implementation of eco-friendly initiatives and advocate for transparency and accountability in the electoral process.
  • Media's Role
    • Media organisations can play a crucial role in emphasising the environmental impact of traditional election methods.
    • Through investigative reporting and highlighting successful green initiatives, the media can encourage a broader understanding of the necessity for change.
  • Global Collaboration
    • Establishing collaborations with countries that have successfully implemented eco-friendly elections, such as Sri Lanka and Estonia, can provide valuable insights and support.
    • Creating platforms for sharing best practices on eco-friendly electoral initiatives at the international level fosters a global commitment to sustainability in democratic processes.


  • Embracing eco-conscious electoral practices is not just a necessity for India but an opportunity to set an example for democracies worldwide.
  • By integrating top-level directives with grassroots initiatives, involving political parties, Election Commissions, governments, voters, the media, and civil society, India can pave the way for green elections.
  • It will also align environmental stewardship with civic participation and democracy's fundamental principles.

Q1) What is the role of the Election Commission of India?

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is responsible for overseeing the conduct of elections in the country. Its primary roles include the delimitation of constituencies, preparation of electoral rolls, administering the electoral process for both parliamentary and state elections, and enforcing the Model Code of Conduct to ensure fair and free elections.

Q2) What role can renewable energy play in eco-friendly elections?

Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, can play a significant role in eco-friendly elections. Setting up polling booths and counting centres powered by renewable energy can reduce the carbon footprint of the electoral process. Additionally, using energy-efficient technologies and encouraging the offsetting of carbon emissions related to election activities contribute to making elections more environmentally sustainable.

Source: The Hindu