Seven decades of Election Commission of India

NAGUESH S SARDESSAI
Saturday, 25 January 2020

The Election Commission of India (CEI), New Delhi was established on 25th January 1950, a day before India became a Republic on 26 January. It is truly the pillar of world’s largest democracy.

The Election Commission of India (CEI), New Delhi was established on 25th January 1950, a day before India became a Republic on 26 January. It is truly the pillar of world’s largest democracy. In the past 70 years, it has acquitted itself exceptionally well in the onerous task of conducting elections to our parliament and to the State Legislature. The insistence on universal adult franchise was tremendous act to faith on the founding fathers of our republic. To many it looked totally impracticable in an under developed country of our size, with low levels of literacy and divisions of caste and creed.
The Election Commission was given the task of converting this aspiration into a reality in which every adult Indian, irrespective of caste, creed, gender, income or location would get an opportunity to cast his or her vote. This was undoubtedly a gigantic task, right from enumerating voters to locating polling booths at easily accessible places and ensuring secrecy and security to ballot paper. The sheer number of voters and the logistical challenges on account of distances and accessibility were truly huge but the Commission rose to the challenge. It goes to the Commission's credit that despite these difficulties the whole world perceives election in India as being fair and free.
The Election Commission has also been quick in keeping itself abreast of technological changes and in introducing improvements in the electoral process. Electoral roles are not printed anymore. They are computerised. A large proportion of our votes have voter identity card, proceedings in sensitive polling booths are videographed, political party have free time on national television. Ballot paper and ballet time have been replaced by electronic voting machines. Results are not declared in one day. Each of these changes was in some sense, a breakthrough. This improvement has contributed not only to the speedy conduct of election but also to enhancing the trenchancy and credibility if the whole electoral prices.
The achievements of the election commission are noteworthy but challenges lie ahead in the big measure. There is a genuine concern that politics in our country is not attracting the best and the brightest among our people. It is also a matter of concern that educated professionals and the growing middle class often shy away from the participation in the electoral process. Many of them are not even willing to take trouble to cast their vote. Poor turn-out in many constituencies undermines to some extent the legitimacy of the victor in’ first’ pass the post system that we follow.
There is a general worry that people without sufficient means cannot contest election. The background of many contestants and quite often the winning ones, does not inspire confidence in the voters. There is no answer to these questions. While there is near unanimity that something needs to be done about these issues, there is no consensus on how exactly to go about it. The Election Commission has considered some of these problems and given its recommendations. The standing committee of our parliament is also seized of many of these issues. In the coming years it will able to find solutions to these problem by consensus and in the process improve the quality of our democracy. In the last few years, the national voter’s day is commemorated on 25th January.
The new voters in the age group of 18 to 19 years are honourably given their electoral photo identity cards (EPICS) and number of awareness and sensitisation activities are conducted for not only the new voters but also the prospective voters in the 16 to 17 age groups in educational institutions by letting them know the importance of ethical voting and increase in the percentage of voting.
The Election Commission of India (Nirvachan Aayog) strives for an error-free electoral role and participation of cross section of voters including divyangs, senior citizens and youth. Special facilities like ramp, water drinking facilities on polling booths, all ladies polling booths, MVM’s, VVPAT’s, and all other notable reforms have been introduced to get on broad all voters which now in our country is more than 90 crore which is the most in the world. National voter’s day pledge is administered to all voters in functions held across the country by Election Commission.
The Election Commission of India has brought about total transparency and accountability in the system.
 

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