Para Archer and Arjuna Awardee, Ms. Sheetal Devi, will be ECI National PwD Icon

azadi ka amrit mahotsav

In a first of its kind initiative, the Election Commission of India (ECI) in association with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) organised an Exhibition Cricket Match between the Indian Deaf Cricket Association (IDCA) Team and the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) team to foster voter education and inclusivity. The match was held on March 16, 2024 at Karnail Singh Stadium in New Delhi. On the occasion, Ms. Sheetal Devi, a distinguished Para-archer, and Arjuna Awardee, was announced as the National Icon in the PwD category.

The event was graced by Chief Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner’s Shri Gyanesh Kumar and Shri Sukhbir Singh Sandhu who felicitated the winning team. Renowned former Indian Cricketer, Nikhil Chopra, was also invited as the special guest alongside officials from DDCA and IDCA.

This cricket match exemplified the commitment made by CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar to the Indian deaf Cricket team when he felicitated them for bringing laurels to the nation by winning the T20 Champions Trophy held in UAE, on the eve of International Day of PwDs in 2022. He had mentioned that “ECI will explore the possibility of sponsoring a match of the Indian Deaf Cricket Association team with mainstream cricket teams.

Both teams put up a spirited performance to entertain and thrill the crowd of 2500 spectators including Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) of various categories and young voters, gathered under a bright blue sky to enjoy the match. The DDCA team won by 69 runs (Scorecard- DDCA  190/5; IDCA – 121/8) in a match where the message of inclusivity and togetherness was the ultimate victor. The message of ‘Nothing like voting, I vote for sure’ rang loud and true throughout the event.

It underscores ECI’s commitment towards inclusivity and empowerment and will inspire fellow voters with disabilities to enrol and participate in the electoral process.

The match concluded with a captivating performance by the ‘Shining Star Music Band’- a band featuring the visually impaired.

Over the course of the event, the Commission launched a dedicated Voter’s Guide for PwDs and Senior Citizen Electors. The comprehensive booklet outlines essential provisions available to PwDs and senior citizens, including infrastructural, informative, and procedural details at polling stations, as well as the applicability and procedure for Postal Ballots, facilitating a smooth and pleasurable voting experience.

The measures follow key initiatives undertaken by the Commission towards PwDs. These include inter alia, optional home voting facility for PwDs with benchmarked disabilities, mapping of Persons with Disabilities polling station-wise, provision of free transportation on poll day, disability-specific facilitations at all polling stations, accessibility checklist at polling stations, appointment of State and District PwD Icons, awareness campaigns, the Saksham ECI App, Braille enabled EPICs and EVMs.

The Election Commission of India remains confident that such initiatives will significantly enhance voter participation, particularly among youth and persons with disabilities, in the upcoming general elections. Through a meticulously designed framework of guidelines and inclusive measures, the Commission is committed to ensuring a truly representative and robust democracy.

The event was drawn to a close by a stirring rendition of the national anthem in sign language by students from the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC).



Source PIB