Indian General Elections – How much do they cost?

Most of us don’t really think about the cost of democracy in economic terms. After all, regular elections are considered fundamental to being ‘Free’. But as the wise and weary will often tell you – Free doesn’t mean zero cost.

Adjusting for PPP – a fancy way of adjusting money, based on how much one could get for a dollar in India Vs in the USA – India may see expenditures of upwards of $27 Billion (or $7 Billion in basic conversion). That is significantly higher than NASA’s budget.

While some may view the cost of elections as exorbitant – I must point out a couple of salient facts & issues:
a). This is the cost of just One Election – India has them each month of the year – every year
b). Less than 10% of the money spent is actually declared
c). This works out to be just a few dollars per voter
d). Elections have become defacto economic stimulus events

What is troubling is that, due to the cash-heavy nature of the electoral process, elections in India have become the largest consumer or catalyst of Black Money or Money Laundering – possibly in the world.

Hence, one could say – What keeps us free… keeps us dirty as well.

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