“Conducting elections in India is a mammoth task with over 937 million registered electors in the country by now. Polling booths within walking distance of every village, hamlet and habitation with the aim of ‘No Voter to be Left Behind’ were set up by ECI.”- Shri Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner of India
An international virtual seminar on “Story of World’s Largest Democracy’s Election” in India was organized on 30th November 2021. The Election Commission of India (ECI) in association with the High Commission of India, Pretoria; Consulate General of India, Johannesburg and Electoral Commission of South Africa participated in this event. The Webinar was attended by over 50 participants from the Indian diaspora, academicians and students from different universities in South Africa.
— Election Commission of India #SVEEP (@ECISVEEP) November 30, 2021
He mentioned several initiatives were adapted to ensure smooth conduct of elections while conducting elections in six states during the COVID pandemic. Steps like curtailing the maximum number of voters at a polling station from 1500 to 1000 and extending polling hours by an hour in order to decongest polling spaces; postal ballot facility for 80+ senior citizens, PwDs and COVID affected individuals where ECI literally brought the polling station to their doorstep. He also gave an insight into the participation of women in Indian elections, which has seen remarkable increase over the years.
Mr. Chandra also pointed out ECI’s efforts at digitization & use of technology, citing example of Electronic Voting Machines, VVPATs and mobile apps like c-vIGIL app for citizens to report violation of Model Code of Conduct; the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System facility for service voters and those posted at our missions abroad. Different facets of election management to ensure inclusive, participative, and accessible elections was presented by the Secretary General of ECI, Mr. Umesh Sinha. A 360 degree communication plan to handle elections of this magnitude was also shared amongst them.
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In his opening remarks, Mr Jaideep Sarkar, High Commissioner of India to South Africa stressed upon the Indo-South Africa cooperation over the years and the shared history. Mr. V G Mashinini, Chairman, Election Commission of South Africa spoke about the importance of strengthening democracy and exchange of information as also about the pivotal roles played by the Election Commission in both India & South Africa.
ECI is presently the Chair of Association of World Election Bodies where EC of South Africa is the Vice Chair of AWEB. The Election Commission of India and Electoral Commission of South Africa enjoy warm and friendly relations. Both the institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2011 for mutual cooperation in the field of Electoral Management and Administration. Under this framework, both the EMBs have exchanged good practices from time to time in different fields of Electoral Management.
A short film titled ‘Making of Indian Constitution’ to commemorate the Constitution Day was also screened during the webinar.
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