JAMMU, Nov 23: Unbelievable it may sound but it is a fact that 50% of the candidates aspiring to become lawmaker in first two phases of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir are undergraduates.
These figures have once again brought to the fore the million-dollar question as to why cannot there be educational criteria for contesting elections and becoming the representative of people in Legislature or Parliament.
As country has not reached any consensus on this vital question, education continues to matter little in elections but weights the most in obtaining jobs both in Government and private sector.
According to the legal luminaries, neither the Indian Constitution nor the Representation of the People Act has any mention of educational criteria for the candidates contesting elections. “This was justified at the time of framing of Constitution and Representation of People Act in view of poor literacy rate in the country but since literacy rate has increased considerably since independence there is a need to prescribe minimum qualification for contesting elections”, they said.
“Prescribing minimum qualification for candidates is imperative so that they can effectively contribute to the policy formulation and implementation processes”, they said, adding “to have a clear understanding of the functioning of democracies, constitutional provisions and role of bureaucracy, it always helps to have a certain level of literacy among the candidates”.
Out of total 123 candidates in fray in first phase of elections scheduled to be held on November 25, two candidates have declared that they are illiterate, 72 candidates have declared that they have an educational qualification of 12th pass or below while as 48 candidates have an educational qualification of graduation or above.
According to the data available with EXCELSIOR, out of 123 candidates, 74 (more than 50%) are undergraduates. Of these, three candidates are 5th pass, 16 have passed only 8th class, 28 are matriculate and 24 have passed 12th pass. Only 48 candidates contesting Assembly elections in first phase are Graduate, Graduate Professionals and Doctorate. One of the contesting candidate could not even muster courage to disclose his educational qualification and left the column blank in the affidavit filed before the Election Commission of India.
Similarly, out of 175 candidates contesting from 18 Assembly constituencies under Phase-II, nine candidates have declared that they are illiterate while as 88 candidates have declared that they have an educational qualification of 12th pass or below and 71 candidates have declared having educational qualification of graduation and above.
Out of 175 candidates, 97 (again more than 50%) are undergraduates. Of these, 30 each have passed 12th and 10th classes while as 26 have passed only 8th class and two have studied up to 5th class. Five candidates have concealed their educational qualification thereby indicating that they are aspiring to become lawmaker by hiding the facts.
According to the data, among 175 candidates, 18 are graduate, 26 are graduate professional, 25 are Post-Graduate and 2 are possessing degrees of Doctorate.
Now, it is to be seen as to how may undergraduate and graduate and above succeed in becoming lawmakers. The number of votes to be secured by all these candidates would also bring to the fore as to how much weightage the electorates give to the educational qualification of the candidates.
As per the data, in the first phase of elections only three female candidates are contesting elections among a total of 123 candidates while as in second phase eight female candidates are trying their luck for becoming lawmaker.
As far as profession details of the contesting candidates are concerned, they belong to different sections of society like farmers, businessmen, politicians, social workers, lawyers and teachers.
This data has been compiled by J&K Election Watch for National Election Watch/Association for Democratic Reforms. Balvinder Singh and Dr Shaikh Ghulam are the State Coordinators of the J&K Election Watch.

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