25 January 2020
Bhubaneswar: Odisha Government was one among the winners of the National Award for Excellence to States given away by President of India Ram Nath Kovind during the 10th National Voters’ Day (NVD) event held at New Delhi on Saturday.
The award was presented to the State Government for conducting simultaneous elections of Parliament and the Assembly elections successfully despite severe cyclonic storm FANI. The then Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Odisha, Surendra Kumar, received the award on behalf of Odisha Government.
It was asserted that just four days before the last day of the poll the State machinery worked on war footing to ensure all strong rooms falling in the cyclone path were not only safe but also complete transparency was maintained.
The theme for NVD 2020 was ‘Electoral Literacy for Stronger Democracy’ reiterating the commitment of Election Commission of India (ECI) towards electoral literacy for all to ensure maximum participation and informed & ethical voting. This year marks an important milestone in the history of Indian democracy as Election Commission of India (ECI) completes 70 years of its journey.
President Kovind hailed the varied interventions taken up by ECI for the successful conduct of the 17th Lok Sabha Election in a free, fair and transparent manner. The President particularly appreciated the initiatives for reaching out to voters in the remotest corner to include their names in the electoral roll and to encourage them to exercise the Right to Vote, resulting in the historic voter turnout of 67.47 per cent.
He congratulated the new six new voters particularly who were given the Electoral Photo Identity Cards today. The President also particularly mentioned the Universal Adult Suffrage principle which helped all Indian eligible citizens to vote from the very beginning of the journey of Indian republic.
The President also took note of the special efforts undertaken by Election Commission of India to ensure that the gender gap was reduced to less than 0.1 per cent in the last Lok Sabha General Election. He particularly lauded the Electoral Literacy Clubs’ efforts and use of vernacular language in reaching out to even in the remotest areas.
President Kovind also gave away the National Awards for the Best Electoral Practices to Officers for their outstanding performance in the conduct of elections in different spheres.
The district administrative and Security Officers were lauded for their efforts to ensure enrollment of new eligible voters with sustained efforts, launch of SVEEP Apps to facilitate polling experience, conduct of elections with innovative means, facilitating Persons with Disabilities at polling booths as also working amidst challenging circumstances such as severe cyclonic storm or coordinating security grid mechanisms. In addition, awards were also conferred on CSOs, Government Departments and Media Houses for their outstanding contribution in the field of voter awareness and outreach.
Two books were launched by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and presented to the President. The first book was Belief in the Ballot-II, an anthology of 101 human stories from across the nation about Indian elections. An amalgamation of daring, interesting and inspiring stories of both election officers and voters, this anthology presents experiences of courage, sacrifice and dedication of the election personnel as well as the enthusiasm and commitment of the voters.
The second book launched was The Centenarian Voters: Sentinels of Our Democracy. This collection enumerates the stories and experiences of 51 centenarians across India, who braved difficult terrain, poor health and other challenges to come out and vote.
Chief Election Commissioners and senior officials from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Tunisia graced the occasion. Reputed international organisations working in elections such as A-WEB, IFES and International IDEA were also a part of the occasion. Members of Political Parties, Members of Parliament besides Diplomats from various countries and representatives from national and international organizations working in the area of democracy and elections also attended the national function.
The National Voters’ Day (NVD) is celebrated all over the country on January 25 every year since 2011 to mark the Foundation day of Election Commission of India, which was established on this day in the year 1950. This year, the celebrations were spread over three days to mark the 70 illustrious years of ECI establishment.
On January 23, the Commission organized the first ever annual lecture series in memory of the first Chief Election Commissioner of India, Sukumar Sen. Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee, delivered the keynote lecture. On January 24, an International Conference on “Strengthening Institutional Capacity” was organised.
The main purpose of the NVD celebration is to encourage, facilitate and maximize the enrollment, especially for the new voters. Dedicated to the voters of the country, the Day is utilized to spread awareness among voters for promoting informed participation in the electoral process.