• Monday, June 17, 2024

INDIA

When we think of a country we desire, every vote going to matter, says Sachin Tendulkar, India poll body’s new national icon

As part of the three-year agreement, the former cricketer will spread voter awareness.

Former India cricket captain Sachin Tendulkar addresses during an event where he was recognised as the ‘National Icon’ of the Election Commission to encourage greater voter participation in the electoral process, in New Delhi on Wednesday, August 23, 2023. (ANI Photo/ Shrikant Singh)

By: Shubham Ghosh

AMID its efforts to counter urban and youth apathy towards voting, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday (23) appointed cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar as a “national icon” to encourage greater voter participation in elections.

The appointment of the former India captain, who turned 50 this year, came as the poll body gears up for elections in five states later this year and the general elections next year.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between Tendulkar and the poll panel.

As part of the three-year agreement, the former cricketer will spread voter awareness.

Addressing the gathering in New Delhi, Tendulkar, a former parliamentarian, said India is the biggest democracy in the world and it is our prime responsibility to exercise our voting right.

He reminded the gathering that he had said that in his second innings, he will continue to bat for India.

“It is said that India is the youngest average age nation in the world. But when it comes to voting — that responsibility — can we say that we are a responsible nation when it comes to voting? The honest answer would be no. It is a little difficult to accept,” he noted.

He said as an Indian, he would like people to say that India is of course the youngest average age nation in the world, but along with that, the most responsible nation in the world when it comes to casting vote.

Voting is a responsibility, Tendulkar said, adding it has to come from within.

“We all want good things to happen to our nation. But it needs effort — effort to cast your vote,” he said, adding that when we think of a country we desire, every vote is going to matter.

Speaking on the occasion, India’s chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar said the poll panel has identified constituencies and the polling booths where the percentage of voting is less.

“We are calling it a ‘turnout implementation plan’ and identified the constituencies and made the district electoral officers responsible to look at reasons and analyse the factors responsible for low voter turnout,” he said.

Election commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey said the “pitch” on which EC plays to encourage voters to come out and exercise their franchise is “tough”. But he expressed confidence that Tendulkar will come out with flying colours. Election commissioner Arun Goel said the voter turnout was the maximum at 67 per cent in the 2019 LS polls. He said more needs to be achieved in enhancing voter turnout.

He said in spite of extending the best of facilities at polling stations for voters, some pockets have seen poor voter turnout. The poll panel has recognised urban and youth apathy as one of the prime reasons for poor voter turnout in certain cities.

Last year, the commission had recognised actor Pankaj Tripathi as a national icon.

During the 2019 general elections, cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, actor Aamir Khan and boxer Mary Kom had been the ECI’s national icons.

(With PTI inputs)

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