Chief Election Commissioner of India and current Chairman, FEMBoSA Shri Sushil Chandraaccompanied byElection Commissioners Shri Rajeev Kumar and Shri A.C.Pandey, today inaugurated the 11th Annual meeting of the Forum of the Election Management Bodies of SouthAsia (FEMBoSA) for the year 2021. The meeting in Virtual mode was hosted by the Election Commission of Bhutan. Alongwith India, delegations from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka participated in the day-long meeting.
Shri Sushil Chandra, CEC, as the outgoing Chair of FEMBoSA, virtually handed over the Chairmanship of FEMBoSA to H.E. Dasho Sonam Topgay, Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan at today’s meeting.On behalf of Election Commission of Bhutan, H.E. Major General Vetsop Namgyel, Ambassador of Bhutan to India accepted FEMBoSA Logo from Shri Sushil Chandra for Election Commission of Bhutan assuming the role of new Chair of FEMBoSA 2021-22.
In his address, Shri Sushil Chandra stated that FEMBoSA represents a very large part of the democratic world and is an active regional cooperation association of Election Management Bodies. Its logo with golden pearls stands for the eternal values of transparency, impartiality, democracy and cooperation. Shri Chandrashared India’s experience of conducting Assembly elections in Bihar in November 2020 and Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Puducherry in March/April 2021 during the tough, testing times of COVID 19 pandemic. Shri Chandra noted that technological advancements and its impact on election management is of critical importance for all of us. Technology has been extensively used to make elections more participative, accessible and transparent.
The theme of today’s meeting was ‘Use of Technology in Elections’. Shri Sushil Chandra mentioned that keeping pace with the rapid strides of Technology,ECI has digitized many processes. Technology driven processes became all the more important in view of Covid 19 situation by helping minimize person-to-person contact. Shri Chandra added that ECI looks forward to further strengthening its interaction with FEMBoSA member EMBs in promoting activities of the Forum as per its objectives, and empowering fellow EMBs through sharing the skills and capacity building efforts in cooperation with the Members. He reiterated ECI’s commitment to ensure that the ideals and objectives enshrined in FEMBoSA Charter shallbe carried further.
Shri Umesh Sinha, Secretary General, ECI presented a Stewardship Report on the activities of FEMBoSA members during the period of ECI’s Chairmanship for the period Jan. 2020 – July 2021, as per the Work Plan 2020 approved at the 10th FEMBoSA meeting held in New Delhi on 24 Jan. 2020.
Accepting the responsibility of Chairperson of the Forum, H.E. Dasho Sonam Topgay, CEC of Bhutan thanked the delegates for the trust and confidence reposed in the Election Commission of Bhutan. He assured FEMBoSA members that Bhutan shall work with utmost devotion to carry forward FEMBoSA’s objectives topromote contact among the Election Management Bodies of the SAARC countries;share experiences with a view to learning from each other and cooperate with one another in enhancing capabilities of the Election Management Bodies towards conducting free and fair elections.
A Thimphu Resolution was unanimously adopted by the FEMBoSA members to extend tenure of chairmanship to two years during the current pandemic situation. The resolution document noted the commendable efforts put in by ECI and IIIDEM in capacity development of members from FEMBoSA. IIIDEM and ECI would continue to organise customised programs for the needs of member countries with mutual cooperation and support
In his closing remarks, Shri Sushil Chandra reiterated ECI’s commitment to the objectives and mission of FEMBoSA. Shri Chandra said FEMBoSA offers a meaningful forum for exchange on matters of mutual interests as we continue to share our learning and experiences in the field of electoral management to gain new insights and possible solutions to challenges faced.Sh. Chandra noted that deliberations today have been very purposeful, productive and participative.