There is need for “real action” and not mere “tokenism” to enable people with disabilities to have a meaningful participation in electoral processes, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) O P Rawat said on Wednesday.
Speaking at an international conference on the inclusion of people with disabilities in electoral processes, he said priorities for such people would have to take “centre-stage” when it came to the holding of elections in a democratic country such as India.
“We have to move away from tokenism to real empowerment and real action for ensuring meaningful and purposeful participation (of people with disabilities), not only in elections, but in all issues of governance affecting future participation in elections,” the CEC said.
With technological evolution and development taking place at a frantic speed, change was also occurring at a very fast pace, he said.
“Whatever is available today may not be seen tomorrow and that has generated a rat race and most of us who cater to that race find it very difficult to look behind for those who could not catch up,” he said.
Therefore, he said, the time had come to ensure that such people became empowered and ensure that they participated in the democratic exercise essential for inclusive development and growth the world over.
The CEC said the Election Commission and the poll bodies in the states were devising ways so that the disabled or specially-abled people were provided with all help by way of technology, facilitation, enrollment in the rolls and easy access to polling booths and to make their experience in this context second to none.