Saturday, November 8, 2008

Launch of EI in Cochin

The Launch of in Kerala was organised on 8th November, 2008 at Ashirbhavan, Cochin, in partnership with the Centre for Public Policy Research. It was attended by eminent personalities from different fields like Shri PA Rajan, eminent journalist and political commentator, Dr G Gopakumar, Head of Dept, Political Science, Kerala University, representatives of a number of NGOs from different parts of Kerala, and students from different colleges.

Before the launch of the website, Mr Barun Mitra of Liberty Institute introduced the project to the gathering. He shared with them his experience, his thoughts and what led Liberty Institute to initiate the project called – Empowering India. was formally launched by Dr Sebastian Paul, Member of Parliament. He commended Liberty Institute and Centre for Public Policy Research for this initiative and said that every voter has the right to be able to access as much information about their political representatives and an initiative like this would make the democratic exercise more fruitful. He also thought that such a website would be helpful both for the general public and to the candidates contesting for elections. He added that the website is more relevant in cities like Ernakulam where ordinary people have access to the internet.

Later, Mr Mitra took the audience through the details that are available in the website. He showed how a voter could find out about the various candidates in their own constituencies. The voter could also see the details of the affidavits filed by candidates giving details of his assets, liabilities, educational qualification, and if they face any criminal charge in any court of law. The audience saw with interest the affidavit details of Dr Sebastin Paul filed in 2004.

Prof. KV Thomas, Member of Legislative Assembly, felicitated the gathering and said that in a vibrant democracy people should be aware of the activities of their leaders in the Parliament and state Assembly. He said that this website is a novel attempt in providing easy access to the public to get more information and thereby know their representatives better.

Mr Dhanuraj D, Chairman, CPPR delivered the vote of thanks and shared his experience on working with Liberty Institute. He also mentioned what role CPPR would like to play for the future prospects of the website in the collection and dissemination of the information. He said that CPPR wants to take the information in the website to the masses so that they can make an informed decision regarding their leaders.

The launch was followed by a discussion on the prospects of the websites in the future and how to make the website more effective and efficient in reaching out to the public. Dr Gopakumar moderated the discussion and also shared his experiences being a political scientist and as someone who is well versed with the political conditions in Kerala. Many questions were posed to Mr Mitra on the website, its relevance, scope and usefulness. The key question that cropped up repeatedly was, given that only about 40 million people in have access to internet, how relevant a web based system such as this was in the Indian context.

Prof K C Abraham, (retd.) mentioned that this project would definitely bring about more accountability and transparency. He also said that the amount of money spent by candidates on electioneering should also be kept track of and made known to the public. Various topics were covered in the discussion, including the comparison of American political process to that of India. At the closure, Mr. Mitra called on the participants to join hands to gather and disseminate information among the voters.

No comments:

Post a Comment