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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 23 May 2024

  1. The Curious Case of Declining Voters in the 2024 Elections
  2. International Criminal Court (ICC)’s Arrest Warrants


It is widely accepted that in a developing and growing country like India, the prices of essential goods, population, GDP, agricultural production, and professionals’ salaries generally increase every year. While the rate of increase may vary each year, the absolute numbers typically rise, except under exceptional circumstances. Similarly, the total number of people who vote in an election is expected to increase over a five-year election cycle.



  • Elections
  • Representation of People’s Act

Mains Question:

In nearly one-third of all constituencies in the 2024 election, the total absolute number of voters declined vis-à-vis the 2019 election. How does the absolute number of voters differ from voter turnout percentages and what can be the possible reasons behind a decline in the absolute number of voters? (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Rise in the Number of Voters:

  • This is due to India’s growing population and the increasing number of individuals reaching the voting age of 18 each year, barring any rare demographic disaster that causes higher death rates or mass emigration.
  • Therefore, the total number of voters in a constituency in 2024 should be higher than in 2019. Although voter turnout percentages may fluctuate between elections, the actual number of voters generally rises between two five-year election cycles in India.
  • Hence, it is intriguing that in nearly one-third of all constituencies in the 2024 election, the total number of voters decreased compared to the 2019 election. An analysis of 427 constituencies up to Phase 5 shows that in 115 (27%) constituencies, fewer people voted than in 2019.
  • This decline in total voters across such a significant number of constituencies is almost unprecedented in India’s electoral history.

The Absolute Number of Voters and Voter Turnout Percentages:

  • It is important to note that this analysis concerns the absolute number of voters, not voter turnout percentages. While there is much focus on voter turnout percentages in the ongoing election, these percentages are insufficient for cross-election comparisons.
  • This is because turnout percentage depends on the total number of electors on the electoral rolls, which varies based on the number of new voters registered and the removal of deceased or emigrated voters.
  • These factors can vary significantly from election to election, depending on the thoroughness of the electoral roll cleaning by the Election Commission.
  • Therefore, the more meaningful and intuitive measure for comparison is the change in the total number of people who actually voted across elections.

Analysing Statistics:

  • By Phase 5, over 505 million people had voted in the 2024 election compared to 485 million in 2019, marking an increase of just 4%.
  • In contrast, the 2019 election saw a 12% increase in total voters in the same constituencies compared to 2014.
  • This indicates a significant decline in the growth of total voters in the current election compared to previous ones.
  • The most puzzling finding is that in 115 constituencies, the total number of voters decreased from 2019, which is unusual in a growing country like India. To provide context, none of these constituencies saw a decline in total voters in 2014, and only 19 did in 2019.
  • The question is how could so many constituencies experience such a dramatic drop in total voters. Even if one excludes small states and Union Territories that might skew the analysis, the result remains the same: in one-third of all constituencies, the total number of voters declined compared to 2019.
  • Most of the constituencies with a decline in total voters are in six states: Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh.

Reason Behind the Change in Total Voters:

  • The change in total voters from the previous election primarily depends on three factors: the number of new eligible voters, the number of voters who have emigrated, and the percentage of eligible voters who turn out to vote.
  • It is unlikely that there was an unexplained drop in the number of eligible voters, as this typically follows broader population trends.
  • It is also improbable that there was a sudden, significant increase in emigration from these 115 constituencies due to economic or other reasons, especially since none of these constituencies experienced a decline in total voters in either the 2014 or 2019 elections.
  • Therefore, the most logical explanation is a substantial decline in voter turnout, leading to a reduction in the total number of voters compared to 2019.
  • This raises the question of why there is a decline in voter turnout in a significant number of constituencies that the Opposition won in 2019 or is expected to strengthen in 2024.
  • Was the reduced turnout voluntary, or was there implicit coercion? If it was voluntary, what demographic or other factors could explain such a large and sudden drop in turnout in so many constituencies in states that are considered pivotal for the 2024 elections?
  • It cannot be attributed to voter apathy early in the election cycle, as the share of constituencies with a decline in total voters from 2019 fluctuates across different phases of the election.


It is rare in the Indian context for constituencies to see a decline in the absolute number of voters between two five-year election cycles. However, nearly one-third of all constituencies experienced such a decline in 2024 compared to 2019. An explanation in this regard by the Election Commission can provide an explanation to this mysterious trend.


The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has initiated a significant step towards ensuring accountability for the war crimes committed since October 7 of last year by seeking arrest warrants against the leaders of both Hamas and Israel.



  • Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests
  • Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate.

Mains Question:

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has done well to move against Israel, Hamas leaders for Gaza crimes. Discuss in the context of the recent arrest warrants against the leaders of Hamas and Israel. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

About the International Criminal Court (ICC):

The ICC is a permanent judicial institution established by the Rome Statute in 1998 to investigate, prosecute, and try individuals accused of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression. It can impose prison sentences on those found guilty.


  • The Rome Statute, the court’s founding treaty, was adopted in July 1998, and the ICC began its operations in 2003.
  • Headquarters: The Hague, Netherlands.
  • Members: 123 nations are parties to the Rome Statute and recognize the ICC’s authority. Notable exceptions include the US, China, Russia, and India.
  • Funding: The ICC is funded by contributions from its member states and voluntary donations from governments, international organizations, individuals, corporations, and other entities.
  • Composition:
  1. Judges: The ICC has 18 judges from different member countries, elected to non-renewable nine-year terms.
  2. The Presidency: Comprised of three judges (a President and two Vice-Presidents) elected from among the judges, the Presidency represents the Court externally and organizes the work of the judges.
  3. Judicial Divisions: There are three divisions with 18 judges: Pre-Trial, Trial, and Appeals.
  4. Office of the Prosecutor (OTP): The OTP receives referrals and credible information on crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction, conducts investigations, and prosecutes cases before the Court.
  5. Registry: The Registry provides administrative and operational support to the Chambers and the OTP.

Jurisdiction of the ICC:

  • Unlike the International Court of Justice, which resolves disputes between states, the ICC prosecutes individuals.
  • The ICC can hear a case if:
  • The country where the offense occurred is a party to the Rome Statute, or
  • The perpetrator’s home country is a party to the Rome Statute.
  • The ICC steps in only if the national court is unable or unwilling to prosecute.
  • The ICC’s jurisdiction covers offenses committed after July 1, 2002, the date when the Statute came into force.

Relation with the United Nations (UN):

  • The ICC is not a UN organization but has a cooperation agreement with the UN.
  • The UN Security Council can refer situations outside the ICC’s jurisdiction to the Court, granting it the authority to act.

More on the Issuance of Arrest Warrants:

  • October 7, 2023 marks when Hamas launched its lethal attacks, resulting in over 1,500 Israeli deaths and at least 245 hostages taken.
  • In response, the Israeli military has conducted a severe and continuous offensive on Gaza, with a death toll now exceeding 35,000, primarily women and children.
  • The request for warrants, to be evaluated by an ICC Pre-Trial Chamber, is expected to have a more substantial impact on Israel than on the non-state group.
  • Israel’s primary concern lies in the moral equivalence drawn by the prosecutor, who has charged both the democratic national leadership and an armed group intent on its destruction with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • Apart from Israel’s staunch allies, such as the U.S. and some other governments, most support ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan’s efforts to achieve a balanced approach.

Accusations Levelled:

  • The situation is particularly unflattering for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, as they are named for war crimes and crimes against humanity alongside Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri alias Deif, the commander-in-chief of the Al-Qassam Brigades, and Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas Political Bureau.
  • However, it would have been impossible for the ICC prosecutor to overlook the accusations against the Israeli leadership, including the use of starvation as a war tactic and intentionally targeting civilians.
  • Hamas faces charges of extermination, murder, rape, torture, and hostage-taking. Israel has predictably challenged the application, maintaining its stance of legitimate self-defense.

Effectiveness of the Arrest Warrants:

  • Many might see the arrest warrants as ineffective, noting that similar warrants against figures like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir have gone unexecuted.
  • Despite potential challenges in enforcing these measures, they carry diplomatic consequences since ICC member countries are required to arrest and surrender individuals with outstanding warrants under the Rome Statute.
  • This action could further isolate Israel internationally while also solidifying the U.S.-Israeli position on the Palestinian issue.

Subsequent Procedures:

  • ICC judges are currently evaluating the evidence to decide whether to issue arrest warrants.
  • If the warrants are issued, all 124 ICC member states are required to arrest these individuals if they enter their jurisdictions.

Potential Consequences and Responses:

  • The ICC relies on member states to enforce arrest warrants, as it does not have its own enforcement body.
  • An issued warrant could restrict the Israeli Prime Minister’s international travel and diplomatic activities, although actual enforcement remains uncertain.

Public Reactions:

  • Israel: Strong disapproval, with Foreign Minister Israel Katz calling the warrant request “a historical disgrace.”
  • Hamas: Disapproves of actions against its leaders but supports the pursuit of Netanyahu and Gallant.


Although Israel, like the U.S., is not a member of the ICC, the precedent set by Putin’s case suggests that this does not prevent warrants from being issued against its leaders. Domestically, Prime Minister Netanyahu may leverage this situation to strengthen his political standing. This recent warrant request highlights the ongoing conflict and the complex legal and political issues in the Israel-Palestine situation. The ICC’s involvement underscores its commitment to addressing alleged international crimes, despite enforcement challenges.

June 2024