German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock-led delegation met Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel here on Tuesday.
The German Foreign Minister was accompanied by four MPs — Agnieszka Brugger, Thomas Erndl, Ulrich Lechte, Andreas Larem — and Philipp Ackermann, Ambassador to India and a few other officers from her Foreign Office.
Speaking on the occasion, CEC Rajiv Kumar said that the idea of democracy was deeply rooted in India’s historical context and traditions. Giving an overview of the magnitude of Indian elections, he informed the German delegation of the detailed exercise that the ECI conducts for over 950 million voters across 1.1 million polling stations, co-opting 11 million polling personnel ensuring robust electoral processes for conducting free, fair, inclusive, accessible and participative elections.
He emphasized that the ECI ensures disclosures and participation of political parties at every stage. Kumar said apart from the logistical challenges, the disruptive impact of fake social media narratives potentially affecting free and fair elections is fast emerging as a common challenge for most elections management bodies.
The German Foreign Minister while interacting with the Commission appreciated the vast exercise of electoral management by ECI in the largest democracy in the world given the challenges of diverse geography, culture and electorate in India.
The German Minister was briefed about the extensive use of technology by the ECI in the conduct of elections broadly under three verticals of voters’ participation, political parties/candidates and election machinery logistics. She personally cast a vote through EVM during a demonstration of EVM-VVPAT functioning organised by the ECI for the delegation. She, along with the MPs, keenly observed the strong security features of standalone EVMs along with rigorous administrative protocols on handling, movement, storage, operations and the process for participation of political parties at every stage of electoral processes involving EVMs.
Both India and Germany are members of the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Stockholm and the Community of Democracies, Warsaw.
The ECI’s constant endeavour is to foster closer electoral cooperation with the electoral authorities abroad alongside strengthening the democratic institutions and processes with a view to deepen people-to-people linkages and promote civic education and literacy, including education for democracy.
The ECI under the aegis of Summit for Democracy will also be organising the second international conference on ‘Use of Technology & Elections Integrity’ in January 2023 ahead of the National Voters Day 2023.