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World wants to see Indian democracy in action

George Iype in New Delhi | April 14, 2004 16:19 IST

Indian democracy is in full flow and international delegations are queuing up to see how it is all done.

A number of them are preparing to travel across the country to witness the spectacle of the Lok Sabha election.

A key delegation will be from neighbouring Pakistan. A team from the Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy, a major voluntary association of prominent Indian and Pakistan citizens, will tour across India from next week to witness what they call 'the enormous Indian election process'.

Officials at the Election Commission disclosed that delegates from countries like the United States, Australia, Russia, Sri Lanka and South Africa are expected to visit India to get a better understanding of the Indian electoral process.

"Right now we do not have the complete details of who all are coming to witness the election process. But there is tremendous international interest in our election," an Election Commission official told

According to him, what most of the international delegates are interested is 'to know more about how our Electronic Voting Machines work'.

"The world wants to see how the largest democracy conducts the first-ever all electronic poll," the official added.

The Commission is deploying nearly one million EVMs in approximately 800,000 polling stations across the country in the four-phase election starting from April 20.

India's expertise with the gadget is being watched with great curiosity by many countries across the world.

Officials from the State Department in the US are scheduled to visit the Bangalore-based Bharat Electronics Ltd, Bangalore and Hyderabad-based Electronics Corporation of India Ltd, the two Indian companies that manufacture the EVMs.

In fact last year, in an international conference on democracy in London, a number of Commonwealth nations had decided to replicate the electronic voting model in India.

EC officials said that over the last few months, officials from the national electoral bodies from countries like Russia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Thailand, Nigeria, Australia, the United States and Afghanistan have visited the EC to study the election process.

The EC has also provided experts and observers for elections to other countries in cooperation with the United Nations and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

India is a founding member of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Stockholm, Sweden.

As an IDEA member, the EC has been sharing its expertise in electoral management, electoral laws and reforms.

Pakistan activists say they are looking forward to witnessing the Indian election show.

"Yes, many in Pakistan consider the Indian elections as very exciting. So we are sending a delegation to see how smoothly India conducts the democratic elections," PIPFPD founder member V M Kutty told

He said people in Pakistan are eager to get insights into how elections are held, especially how the EVMs work.

"This would help the parliamentarians in Pakistan to initiate similar process in our country as well," Kutty added.

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