‘Holding fair election in largest democracy an achievement’

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Srinagar – Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India N.K Chawla delivered an extension lecture on “General Election 2009 and Electoral Reforms “at University of Kashmir here on Monday during which he spoke about the importance of a single vote which can decide the future of a nation.

“In 2008 elections in Rajasthan one single vote decided the fate of Chief Minister and the person who lost by that one single vote would have been the Chief Minister of Rajasthan today,” said Chawla while speaking at an extension lecture organized by Department of Students Welfare University of Kashmir.

He said that in 2008 the commission had to set a polling booth at Zanskar at a height of 16 to 23 thousand feet above sea level with tough terrain in the region of Ladakh which comprised of only 23 voters “Only to ensure that even those 23 get the chance to exercise their right.”

While explaining the electoral reforms and comparing the statistics of 2004 and 2009 general election, he added there has been an exponential growth in suffrage from 40 to 70 crores. “Voter card is the powerful and important form of identity and we advocate every citizen must seek its possession. It is after our endeavor that today 92 percent population hold the EPIC card which counts up to 582 million” he added.

He said holding an election to 840 million registered voters with such efficacy in an achievement in itself as being the largest management exercise across the globe.

“Ethical voting is the concept that election commission of India is following to acquire proficient results and I personally advocate it.

I do not promote compulsory vote but whosoever wants to vote we ensure he gets the opportunity,” he added.

Acknowledging there are certain short comings which need to be overcome especially like influx of money, berth to those who have criminal background and ticket to youths in elections Chawla while referring to the Department of Political Science Kashmir University said “Money in elections and entry of those who have criminal background is still an issue for us. We would like to have some working group of students from Kashmir University who may study the election models across the world and devise a way which would ensure clean and corruption-free elections in our country.”

Speaking on the occasion Vice Chancellor University of Kashmir Prof Talat said that the University is providing opportunities to the students and faculty members to interact with the veterans in the field and learn from their experiences.

“Such discourses help in the cross fertilization of the ideas and enable our students and faculty members to open up their minds and get benefited from the experts,” Prof Talat said.

In his address, head, Department of Political Science, University of Kashmir Prof NA Baba said “Conducting elections in India is hard task due to tremendous challenges particularly where people are separated with geographical, cultural and other barriers” he said.

“India is one of the biggest democracies of the world and the number of registered voters which is 71 crores in our country is more than the combined number of the voters put together of the entire European Union and USA which shows that conducting elections in such a country with a huge number of registered voters is indeed a Herculean task,” Prof Baba said.

Later an interactive session was held which was participated by the students and the faculty members of the University.

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