2 August 1993: A red-letter day for democracy in India
On this day, elections were indefinitely postponed through an order issued by the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), T.N. Seshan. The CEC, ironically, is tasked to ‘conduct’ elections, so who in his right mind would do such a thing in a democracy?
Seshan had put everything on the line while signing that order. And it was an indication as to the lengths he would go to prosecute his designated mandate. And the Supreme Court too did not find the order to be unlawful.
Before Seshan came on the scene, the Election Commission was increasingly functioning as an appendage of the government. Over and above that, there was evidence that malpractice and lawlessness in elections were reaching alarming levels. If that trend were to continue then further down that track lay the ignominy of a banana republic and the danger of Balkanization.
Fearless to the core, in his autobiography, Through the Broken Glass, Seshan brings to light his years of struggles to usher in a new era of electoral reforms in India. Not the one to mince words and Seshan’s devil-may-care attitude and righteous self-awareness took even the Union governments by surprise. Written by a person who never cowered to the high and mighty, the book gives a noholds- barred account of the man who revolutionized the electoral process.
Thought-provoking and inspiring to the core, Through the Broken Glass is a testament to the grit and determination of the man who wagered a lone struggle to bring about a colossal change in the Indian electoral system.
|Title:||Through The Broken Glass|
|Publisher:||Rupa Publications India|
|Number Of Pages:||368|
|Country Of Origin:||India|
|Release date:||5 June 2023|
The sixth child of a lawyer father and a homemaker mother, T.N. Seshan was born in 1932 in Palghat, Kerala. As a student, he was brilliant at academics and went on to become an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer like his elder brother. Having had an exceptional and productive career in the IAS, he served at the top under Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. But what elevated him to legendary status was his tenure as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) at the Election Commission.
Seshan, at the pinnacle of his career, gained unrivalled popularity in India. Over six years as the CEC, he became a household name. Audiences and organizations across the nation were eager to hear him. Fan clubs were formed in his honour and to facilitate his work. His work found admirers across the seven seas, and post his retirement, he was even invited to the US President’s annual prayer event in early 1997.
His service at the Commission was tumultuous, but it was single-minded in the pursuit of free and fair elections. He was relentless in innovatively implementing codes through pre-existing laws and in bringing in new reforms, and, finally retiring in December 1996. It is in this last phase of six years that he made a huge and positive impact on the nation as a whole.
He left for his heavenly abode in the winter of 2019.