India Election Diary 2014: In the Land of the Taj Mahal, India’s Democracy in Action
3.3 million people were eligible to vote in Agra, Uttar Pradesh in the sixth phase of the general elections in India. Representatives from the Election Commissions of Lesotho, Nigeria and Malaysia were in the city on 23-24 April to witness massive administrative convergence required to organize elections in the country. UNDP and ECI are supporting 20 countries on electoral management.
By Women’s Feature Service
- Delegation of election officials from Lesotho, Malaysia and Nigeria visited Agra, Uttar Pradesh on 23-24 April to witness massive administrative convergence
- 20,000 government personnel from across departments and functions were involved in the electoral process in Agra
- Close to 15,000 security personnel were entrusted with ensuring safe elections in the city
- 3.3 million people were eligible to vote in Agra, Uttar Pradesh in the sixth phase of the general elections in India
- The Election Commission of India and UNDP are supporting 20 countries from the South on electoral management
Agra, April 24 - More than 180 million people are voting in the sixth phase of the general elections in India across 12 states and union territories. It’s a tremendous exercise that involves central and state government agencies, local municipalities and paramilitary forces.
This seamless exercise of convergence and coordination managed by India’s Election Commission was on display for an international delegation of election officials from Lesotho, Malaysia and Nigeria who visited the north Indian city of Agra, home to the iconic Taj Mahal.
The visit of this delegation is a result of a partnership between the Election Commission of India and the United Nations Development Programme which aims to share India’s excellence in electoral management, with other countries of the South.
Agra is in Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s biggest states which sends the largest number of legislators to the Indian Parliament. Over 3.3 million people are eligible to vote in the city.
Briefing the delegation, Ms. Jasjit Kaur, the 28 year old joint magistrate of Agra detailed the enormous planning that was undertaken from launching voter awareness programmes to identifying and training polling officials, aimed at ensuring everyone was able to peacefully exercise their democratic right to vote.
Dato Haji Mohd Yusop bin Haji Mansor, Malaysia’s Election Commissioner, was amazed by the limited presence of police at the polling booths. “The number of police personnel deployed was low and yet the elections were so peaceful.” he observed. His colleague, Datuk Haji Mohamad Idrus bin Ismail, Director of Sabah State Election Office, concurred. “Despite the large numbers of people voting, it was interesting to witness the general calm that marked the proceedings,” he remarked.
Oladimeji Kayode Ojelade, Director of Electoral Operations, of Nigeria's Independent National Election Commission, was struck by the convergence of administrative machinery that made such a massive election fair, efficient and largely peaceful. He listened in rapt attention as senior police official, Shalab Mathur, pointed out that elections in India represented a unified effort by multiple agencies and departments, district administrations, municipalities and police and paramilitary forces. Across India, 11 million personnel are involved in conducting the largest elections in the world.
The familiarity and comfort of voters with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) also evoked a response from the delegation. Ojelade said, “This is the first time I have seen such widespread use of EVMs and I hope to make a strong proposal to my country Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy, to deploy EVMs in the country’s next national elections in 2017.” Lebohang Bulane, IT Manager of Lesotho's Election Commission, expressed a similar intent and hoped that EVMs would be used in the Sixth General Elections of his country, also scheduled for 2017.
Since 2009, India has added 100 million new names the country’s voter lists, many of whom are first time voters. The country has the largest population of young people in the world and they have turned out in large numbers to participate in the 16th general elections.
The eagerness of these first time voters is evident in people like 21 year old Payal Rathore, who accompanied by her brother Kuldip who is 20, cast their vote in Agra. “We are excited to have voted for the first time and hope we get Parliamentarians who will work to provide us, the youth of this country, with fresh opportunities.” Her brother nodded in agreement.
Their excitement is shared by Rita Yadav who teaches chemistry in a government-run school in Agra. However during the elections in her city, she does her bit as a polling officer. “These two days in my life are reserved for my country!” she exclaimed.
24 April 2014
India Election Diary 2014: Lesotho, Nigeria and Malaysia Witness Massive Administrative Convergence
India Election Diary 2014: 3.3 million people voted in Agra, Uttar Pradesh on 24 April 2014. Representatives from the Election Commissions of Lesotho, Nigeria and Malaysia were in the city to observe the country’s impressive election management. The Election Commission of India and UNDP are facilitating the participation of 20 countries from across the world to learn more about electoral management.
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[Date: 04 May 2014, Source: The Outlook]