It is axiomatic that India, as the largest practising democracy in the world and with over 60 years’ record of holding effective, transparent and credible elections, should play a leading role in promoting participatory democracy and election administration world-wide. There are huge opportunities for democracy promotion and electoral support particularly in the Arab world, Gulf countries, and Central Asian countries, which have still not established themselves as functional democracies. Further, Election Commission of India has also felt the need to continuously engage itself and others in generating innovative ideas and practices to respond to the emerging challenges in election management. This necessarily calls for bilateral and multilateral cooperation in promoting participatory democracy and best practices in election administration, professional contact and exchange activities, study and observation missions and technical support and advice.
Over the last decade, therefore, the Election Commission of India, has been making incremental efforts to promote inter-institutional contacts, and to provide technical support and user-friendly resources and advice to Election authorities elsewhere, on request. In the process, Election Commission of India has also acquired valuable learnings from its counterparts in other countries. This international cooperation outreach has been made in conjunction with India’s foreign policy objectives, to promote democracy and strengthen election administration world-wide.
The Indo-US Joint Declaration signed during US President Obama’s visit in November 2010, also spoke of a shared international partnership for democracy and development. As part of this agenda, the Joint Declaration pledged to explore cooperation in support of strengthening election organization and management in other interested countries. Mrs. Hillary Clinton, during her visit to India in 2011 as US Secretary of State referred to Election Commission of India, as the “Gold Standard” in election management worldwide.
During Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the ECI, a number of Election Management Authorities and delegations from participating countries evinced keen interest in the electoral technology including EVM operations in Indian elections, exploring whether the ECI could provide them technical assistance. Nepal, Bhutan and Namibia are now using Electronic Voting Machines manufactured in India. After Election Commission started annual celebrations of its National Voters Day in January 2011, countries such as Pakistan, Bhutan and Republic of Korea have also emulated this practice, and are observing their own National Voters Days to promote voter education and awareness.