11th National Voters’ Day was celebrated across the country today on January 25, 2021 with the President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind gracing the national level event held at New Delhi in a virtual, online mode. Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Law & Justice, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology graced the event as the Guest of Honour. The Chief Election Commissioner Shri Sunil Arora, Election Commissioners Shri Sushil Chandra, Shri Rajiv Kumar, and Secretary General Shri Umesh Sinha received the dignitaries on the occasion. This year, due to COVID-19, the NVD celebrations all over the country would be a combination of both physical and virtual events.
The theme for NVD 2021 is ‘Making Our Voters Empowered, Vigilant, Safe and Informed.’ This is a reiteration of the commitment of Election Commission of India (ECI) to conduct COVID-safe elections, as well as to make each voter informed, ethical and vigilant.
In his address, President Sh. Ram Nath Kovind said that we should always respect the valuable right to vote. The right to vote is not a simple right; people around the world have struggled a lot for this. Since independence, our Constitution has given equal voting rights to all citizens without any discrimination on the basis of merit, religion, race, caste. For this, we are indebted to the makers of our Constitution.
The President said that the chief architect of the Indian Constitution, Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, considered the right to vote as paramount. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all of us, especially our youth, who get the right to vote for the first time, to exercise their franchise with the utmost sincerity and inspire others too to do so.
Praising the Election Commission of India for conducting successful and safe elections in Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the President said that it is an extraordinary achievement of our democracy. He was happy to note that the Election Commission has taken a number of innovative and timely measures to conduct smooth, inclusive and safe elections.
Guest of Honour, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad hailed the profound vision of India’s founding fathers who, despite the overwhelming odds against them, created a framework that would empower every single Indian. Speaking about the launch of digital voter cards, he appreciated the IT efforts of the Election Commission. He said that the officers of the Election Commission and civil and police administrations have played a vital role in ensuring free, fair, and peaceful election during challenging times of COVID-19.
Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Sunil Arora reiterated the Commission’s determination in conducting safe and secure elections, which was lauded by democracies across the world. Shri Arora took note of how the tireless efforts of the election machinery ensured that the facility of Postal Ballot was extended to Persons with Disabilities, Senior Citizens above the age of 80 years, and those quarantined due to COVID-19; effectively ensuring that no voter is left behind. As the Commission prepares for upcoming elections in four States and one Union Territory in 2021, Shri Arora emphasized the importance of the commitment towards redefining election management in a pandemic.
In his remarks Election Commissioner Shri Sushil Chandra said that the 11th NVD is being celebrated with a view to enhance electoral participation of voters especially the new voters of the country and empower them as informed, ethical and vigilant voter. He said elections in India are a gigantic exercise conducted under superintendence, direction and control of the Commission. The exercise has its own challenges in terms of sheer scale, size, diversity and complexity besides logistics, aiming for free, fair and transparent elections. Timelines demand strict compliance with little room for any delays and mistakes. That is what makes our elections sacrosanct and model for others.
Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar welcomed the august gathering of dignitaries and awardees to the national celebration of 11th National Voters’ Day. His remarks also highlighted the scale and vastness of Indian elections. He said that despite the complexity of Indian elections, they are conducted meticulously, on schedule. He especially welcomed women voters, Persons with Disability, and Senior Citizens on the occasion.
Two unique digital initiatives were unveiled today. The Commission is rolling out digital voter identity cards or e-EPICs which will be downloadable on mobile phone or in a self-printable form on the computer, after logging in from Voter Helpline Mobile App, Voter Portal (www.voterportal.eci.gov.in) or National Voters’ Service Portal (www.nvsp.in/).
The Hon’ble President of India launched ‘Radio Hello Voters’ – a 24×7 online digital radio service that will stream voter awareness programmes accessible on the Election Commission of India website. Radio Hello Voters has been envisaged to provide information on electoral processes through songs, drama, discussions, podcasts, spots, parodies etc. in Hindi, English and different regional languages from all over the country.
Guest of Honour, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad presented five new voters with their Digital Voter ID cards. While only newly enrolled electors with unique mobile number during SSR 2021 can download e-EPIC from 25th January to 31st January 2021 – this facility will be extended to all other electors from 1st February 2021 onwards.
On this occasion, the President virtually conferred the National Awards for the Best Electoral Practices to Officers for their outstanding performance in the conduct of elections in different spheres. In addition, awards were also conferred on CSOs, Govt. Departments and Media Houses for their outstanding contribution in the field of voter awareness and outreach. Representatives from Political Parties also attended the national function.
Three publications were launched by Union Minister Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad. The first book, Conducting Elections during Pandemic- A Photo Journey encapsulates the challenging journey of conducting elections amidst a pandemic. The second, SVEEP Endeavours: Awareness Initiatives during Lok Sabha Election 2019provides a detailed insight into voter awareness interventions, innovations and initiatives during the 17th General Election, conducted in 2019. Chalo Karen Matdaan– a comic book that aims at voter education in a fun and thought-provoking way targeting young, new and future voters was also launched at the event.
National Voters’ Day 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. 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.