Eternal vigilance price democratic nations pay for liberty: CEC

Bengaluru: Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Monday said eternal vigilance is the price democratic countries pay for liberty. This was particularly true of emerging democracies where despite the political will of the citizens, the persisting statusquoist system suffers from ingrained weakness of institutions and trained manpower to conduct free, fair and participatory elections in a transparent manner, he said.

Speaking at the extraordinary session of the Executive Board of Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) at Bengaluru, Arora cautioned against electoral miscarriage, which might breed distrust toward the democratic institutions, a government press release said.

Arora recalled a famous quote of Thomas Alva Edison, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.” Arora said this quote was especially true about democracy. “It is a very noble idea, which has inspired generation of patriots, reformers and humanists. But it takes a lot of imagination, diligence and professionalism to implement it on ground level.”

The CEC recounted that the framers of Indian Constitution were such visionaries that they chose to setup the institution of Election Commission on 25 January 1950, a day before promulgation and formal adoption of the constitution on 26 January 1950.

He told the gathering that the Election Commission of India (ECI) has successfully conducted 17 national elections and 388 state elections, thus strengthening the nations faith in electoral democracy. Speaking about A-WEB, Arora recalled how the Election Commission of India had been closely associated with the formation process of the A-WEB during 2011-12, and was one of its founding members in October 2013.

According to the release, India has been member of the Executive Board since 2013 and took over as Vice-Chair of AWEB since 2017. Arora said the constituent units of the A-WEB are the Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) of different countries, structured to work together and learn from the experiences and best practices from one another. With 115 EMBs from 109 countries as its members, and 20 international organizations as Associate Members, the A-WEB has truly become a global organization to strengthen electoral management in a non-invasive manner, Arora explained.

“ECI stands today as an institution of repute in imparting knowledge and sharing of best practices and skills with other EMBs through its robust International Cooperation Programme,” the CEC said. He added that ECI has signed Memorandum of Understanding on Electoral Cooperation with 26 EMBs and International Organisations.

Arora complimented Yong-Hi Kim, the current Secretary General of AWEB and his colleagues at the secretariat for successfully organising various training programmes and conferences and other activities year after year fostering promotion of exchange and cooperation among participating EMBs.

More than 120 delegates from 50 countries across the globe have come to Bengaluru for the A-WEB meeting being held from 2 to 4 September. By far this is the largest congregation of EMB delegates in India, according to the release.