New Delhi, June 9

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on Friday held an interaction with the 2022 batch of Indian Foreign Service Officer Trainees (OTs) and urged them to leverage the soft power of India on the global stage.

A batch of 37 IFS OTs and two diplomats from Bhutan undergoing training at Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Affairs called on CEC Rajiv Kumar as part of their induction training program.

On the occasion, CEC Rajiv Kumar said that India has achieved a distinct identity as modern vibrant electoral democracy on a global stage.

While addressing the Indian Foreign Service Officer Trainees on the theme 'India - the Mother of Democracies and Role of ECI' at Nirvachan Sadan, CEC Rajiv Kumar said, "India is one of the oldest democracies in the world. It has now achieved a distinct identity of a modern vibrant electoral democracy on a global stage."

"In the last 72 years, India has seen 17 General Elections to the lower house of the Parliament and more than 400 elections to the State Legislative Assemblies with the universal acceptance of electoral mandate and smooth transfer of power after each and every election. In the growing worldwide concern of democratic recession, ECI's continued delivery of credible electoral outcomes showcases the strength and resilience of its democratic institutions," he added.

He also gave an overview of the complexity of numbers for conducting elections in the world's largest democracy.

"Over 1 million polling stations and, over 1 crore polling officials ensure inclusive, accessible, participative and tech-driven elections. India's elections are often hailed as the world's largest peace-time mobilization conducted with six sigma precision in terms of movement of men and materials," he said.

Rajiv Kumar added that IFS Officers should utilize this as an example of the comprehensive national power of India.

When asked about voting exercise by overseas voters, CEC Kumar said, "Time has come when the fifth largest economy of the world invokes technology driven methodology to facilitate its over 1.34 crore overseas voters to participate in elections by Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System. In this potential endeavour, the role of the foreign service and our High Commissions/Embassies worldwide, would be vital."

During the interaction, CEC emphasized the role of soft power in diplomacy and touched upon the role played by ECIs India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) in training election officials from over 109 countries so far.

"IIIDEM is the only institute of its kind that is becoming the global hub of electoral management expertise and an advanced resource centre for learning, research and training. ECI has been the founding member and chair of multiple global associations like AWEB, AAEA, and FEMBoSA and an active partner with global institutions like International IDEA and IFES," he said.

While addressing the Officer Trainees (OTs) on the significant role played by the Election Commission of India in strengthening democracies worldwide, CEC said, "ECI as the lead for 'Cohort on Election Integrity' is providing the leadership and capacity building support to a large number of Election Management Bodies in the field of election management."

The Cohort on Election Integrity - was established as a follow on to the 'Summit for Democracy' held in December 2021.

"ECI has established itself as a beacon of electoral integrity and fairness, serving as an inspiration for EMBs across the globe," CEC said.

Speaking on the common challenges being faced by EMBs in the conduct of free and fair elections, he stressed the rising threat of fake news and deep fakes on social media, derailing the election narratives.

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