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National Voters Day

The 5th National Voters’ Day was celebrated throughout West Khasi Hills District on the 25th January 2015. In addition to the various celebrations held at polling stations within the district, the 5th National Voters’ Day, 2015 was celebrated in a grand manner at the district headquarter. A function was organized in the campus of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Nongstoin and was attended by officers of the District, newly-enrolled electors and the staff and students of the school. Shri S Kharlyngdoh, Deputy Commissioner (Election), West Khasi Hills District, Nongstoin also attended the function. Shri PD Sangma, Additional Deputy Commissioner, West Khasi Hills District, Nongstoin attended the programme as the keynote speaker.

The programme was hosted by Shri MA Challam, Extra Assistant Commissioner (Election), West Khasi Hills District who in his introductory speech traced the genesis of the National Voters’ Day and spoke on its significance. He also spoke of the culture, the tradition and the inheritance of the people of the state in the realm of democracy. He also highlighted the features of democracy that are in fact the duties of the citizens which include registration and participation. He stressed on the fact that an occasion like National Voters’ Day only served to remind citizens of their duties towards their country.

Delivering the keynote address, Shri PD Sangma spoke on the various facets that make democracy a path to ‘a government of the people, for the people and by the people’. He underlined the fact that democracy without participation is a weak democracy and that the utmost duty of every citizen is to choose their leader with no fear or favour along the lines of religion, caste or creed. The keynote speaker spoke on the fact that democracy is the tool by which the common man shapes his destiny. He also highlighted the different steps that the Election Commission of India has taken to ensure that there is maximum coverage and enrollment of all eligible adults. He emphasized that the greater the coverage of the Electoral Photo identity Card (EPIC), the greater, stronger and more steadfast will the democratic spirit of a country become. In his keynote address, the speaker also recognized the endless and tireless efforts of the field officers especially the Booth Level Officers. He stated that without their efforts, the exercises of revision of the electoral roll would be fruitless and inaccurate. He urged the young people to get themselves enrolled at the earliest opportunity and to participate in all elections to ensure that the spirit and the purpose of democracy is not defeated. He accentuated the ways and means by which the Election Commission of India has made the entire process of enrollment simpler, easier and faster than ever before while still maintaining the criteria that ensure the electoral roll’s fidelity and wholesomeness.

The Deputy Commissioner spoke on the genesis and the thought behind the institution of the National Voters’ Day and highlighted the importance of such a day in the world’s largest democracy. He spoke about the origins of the National Voters’ Day and the thought that brought about such a day. The Deputy Commissioner particularly stressed on the criminalization of politics and the politicalization of crime and urge all present at the gathering to work towards clean politics in their capacity as electors. He encouraged all voters and would-be voters to strive towards a political atmosphere where one can, and will, vote without fear or influence or inducement. The Deputy Commissioner also stated that it is not just the right of every individual to be enrolled and to cast his or her vote but that it is more importantly the duty of every citizen. He also said that he looks forward to the day when India can follow suit the examples set by Canada and Australia in the field of elections. He mentioned that while in Canada, polling day is a holiday for police personnel, in Australia, voting is a fundamental duty of citizens. He further encouraged all newly eligible electors to ensure that they get their names enrolled in the electoral roll of their respective constituencies. He underlined the fact that only such participation can further and strengthen our democratic system.

The programme was also enlivened by cultural items presented by students and other artists. A song sung by Kitkupar Nongsiej regarding the theme of the day stood out in particular through its message of democracy and participation. The willing contributions of such participants only displayed the willingness with which responsible citizens are ready to work for the cause of democracy in our great country.

The programme also had a debate on the topic “Democracy without participation is no true democracy” that was participated in by students. The debate turned out to be a lively exchange of ideas and arguments wherein the participating students displayed not only their oratory skill,s but also their intellectual capacity, demonstrating a deep-seated belief in democracy. The debate ended with the side defending the motion clearly prevailing over their opponents. Their argument that non-participation only serves to weaken and dilute the spirit of democracy seemed to have won over the audience complet

The 5th National Voters’ Day also saw the distribution of EPICs to newly enrolled electors who very proudly displayed their new EPICs and with the knowledge that they had become full and complete citizens of the world’s largest democracy. The newly electors expressed eagerness and alacrity on voting when the next election arrives, promising to cast their votes and exercise their franchise at the earliest possible opportunity. The young men and women not yet eligible to enroll their names as electors, expressed their readiness to get themselves enrolled as soon as they attain the age of eligibility.

The celebration of the 5th National Voters’ Day was a resounding success. An audience of around five hundred to six hundred people, especially on a Sunday, served to remind even the most calloused and cynical of observers that the true citizen has the will and the desire to contribute further in every little way for the great cause of democracy. The overwhelming majority of the audience consisted of young men and women which gives everyone ample reason to believe that the future of democracy in these hills is bright and rosy indeed.