Thursday, November 27, 2008

Launch of EI in Delhi

Empowering India was unveiled to an audience of about 40 people by Mr TN Chaturvedi, the former governor of Karnataka. It was quite apt that an event focussing on democracy was held while the terrorists struck Mumbai the night before. The programme began by observing a minutes’ silence in solidarity with the victims of terrorism. Ballot, after all, is a more potent weapon than the bullets of terrorists.

Empowering India was born out the desire to better understand the Indian electoral system, and to empower the voters with information to enable them to make more informed choice at the ballot box.

Mr Chaturvedi, a former Comptroller and Auditor General of India, launched the web site. The various features of the website were demonstrated to the audience present. At one level, the web site is seeking to reach out to voters in every constituency with information about their own candidates. At another level, an increasing array of analytical tools is available for more serious students and political analysts. Mr Chaturvedi felt that by making the information widely available, it may be possible to bring about a degree of transparency and accountability.

Mr TS Krishnamurthy, former Chief Election Commissioner of India, was the key note speaker, recounted the need for electoral reforms, and said the next steps should be to disseminate the information widely, and to make the information available in major regional languages. He also called for building an active network of citizens and civil society organisations to help discuss and disseminate the information to citizens at the local level. Dr Ashok Desai, economist and columnist, said that the web site has the potential to emerge as a very significant tool for political awareness. He noted that other indicators, such as developmental profiles of constituencies, could further add value to this initiative.

Around 50 people spread over a dozen locations from Orissa in the East to Rajasthan in the West, have been helping to compile the candidate affidavit information using the online data entry system. The aim is to continuously strive to decentralise data gathering and dissemination efforts and to involve local citizens and to make the site available in one or two regional languages as soon as possible.


  1. We are working with our IT people to add an Hindi interface to this site. This will not be so much as translation, but transliteration. Hopefully this should be up and running shortly. Given that quite few pages on our site have drop down options, choosing from them seem to automatically take the site back to the original English version. Any suggestion will be most appreciated.

  2. I have a few suggestions here: