| 28 Nov 2023
ECI conducts Systematic Voter Electoral Education Programme to train 33 Community Radio stations across India

MUMBAI: For the first time in the last many years, the Election Commission of India has reached out to Community Radio Stations to engage in the voter electoral education Programme. Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, who was formerly the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, is aware of the potential of Community radios. It is under his leadership that ECI partnered Seeking Modern Applications for Real Transformation, (SMART) a not for profit organization to train and sensitize 33 community radio stations from over 20 States with the primary objective of building a participative and strong democracy.

In a first of its kind effort, the Systematic Voter Electoral Education Programme team from the ECI conducted a day-long session with the 33 stations. The stations flagged a number of issues that voters face in their communities. They talked about the problems that prevent voters from voting from free and fair elections at places. These ranged from lack of access to disabled persons, elderly people, lack of mobility, the discrepancy in voter lists, lack of motivation in the youth, fear in conflict zones and more.

The team of Election Commission patiently answered each and every query and shared information on steps taken to fortify the booths, simplify first-time voters’ registration, change in address dual voter card, access, and other legal issues. The officials emphasized the need for CR stations to encourage all eligible citizens to vote and make an informed decision during the elections. The Commission shared prepared Quiz formats, comic strips and other audio video material.

Each station will produce five programmes and will upload it on a common platform to enable sharing with other stations on the basis of geography and language. Each station will also host 5 outreach activities in their own areas to create awareness.

A first of its kind interaction between The Election Commission of India and Community Radio Stations was acknowledged as a great initiative as Community Radios are best placed to reach out to the most vulnerable and marginalized communities. They are a powerful medium to spread voter education, voter awareness and to promote voter literacy in India. Communications Sr consultant Arti Agarwal said that with this partnership the information could reach hard to reach areas, particularly in tribal and difficult areas.

The 33 stations trained in Delhi have already started Programme production and field engagement to sensitize first-time voters.

A similar workshop was organized by ECI with University of Hyderabad later this week. Together SMART and UoH have trained 58 stations. A proposal by SMART, to host Zonal workshops to include all the stations is under consideration.