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US delegation meets Election Commission top brass

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New Delhi, May 17 (PTI) A four-member US delegation led by Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya Tuesday called on Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey here.

In a statement, the Election Commission said that as part of ‘Summit for Democracy’, a decision was taken to request India to lead the ‘Democracy Cohort on Election Integrity’ and share its knowledge, technical expertise and experiences with other democracies of the world. The EC was requested to also provide training and capacity building programmes to election management bodies (EMBs) across the world and technical consultancy as per needs of other such bodies.

Tuesday’s discussions, the EC said, were held against the backdrop of ‘Summit for Democracy’ which started as a two-day virtual event, hosted by the United States in December 2021, and is now a year-long activity with events and dialogues on themes related to democracy with participating countries.

Leaders from more than 100 countries including India, civil society organisations, private sector, media and others participated in the first summit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke at the Leaders Plenary Session on December 9, 2021.

Following the Summit, a “Year of Action” was proposed by the United States with events and dialogues on themes related to democracy and to host an in-person ‘Leaders’ Summit for Democracy’ at the end of 2022.

The US government also developed two platforms — ‘Focal Groups’ and ‘Democracy Cohorts’ — to facilitate participation in the Year of Action.

During the meeting, CEC Kumar and EC Pandey shared the experiences of the poll panel and explained how it has not only been conducting free, fair, peaceful and credible elections but also making these inclusive and accessible.

They shared the new initiatives taken by the EC, use of new information technology as a great enabler for not only voters at large but also for all stakeholders such as political parties, candidates and other members of society, making all election-related processes and voter services seamless, hassle-free and participative.

Kumar also spoke of the recent best practices such as postal ballot facility to senior citizens who are above 80 years of age and persons with disabilities.

Pandey explained how the grassrooted education and awareness programmes like Electoral Literacy Clubs, ‘Chunav Pathshalas’, Voter Awareness Forums have been contributing to sensitise voters about their electoral rights as also providing services even in the remotest area.

Uzra Zeya lauded the EC’s role in modernising the election services and making polls more inclusive and accessible.

She said India can take a leading role in sharing its experiences and expertise in providing capacity building programmes to other EMBs to strengthen the election system.

In the Cohort led by India, New Zealand, Finland and the European Union have expressed interest to partner and other interested democracies could also join in.

Several programmes for cooperation and sharing experiences for capacity building are on the anvil.

The ‘Focal Groups’ are for planning for the follow up summit, proposing content for a summit outcome document, engaging with other participating leaders on fulfilling their commitments, leveraging regional and multilateral meetings or thematic conferences.

The Embassy of India in the United States is representing the Government of India in this Group which was launched in Washington.

The Democracy Cohorts platform is a thematic, multi-stakeholder group, open for official government and civil society participation.

Other themes to be discussed under the Cohorts includes free and independent media, fighting corruption, bolstering democratic reformers, advancing technology for democracy, digital governance, inclusive democracy, disinformation, anti-discrimination amongst others.

These Cohorts would refine summit’s commitments, demonstrate progress on implementing those commitments, and develop new commitments for the follow up summit. PTI NAB NAB TIR TIR

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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