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Naropa Fellows campaign for Voter Participation prog in Leh, Ladakh

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Leh, April 23: With an aim to achieve 100% voting in Leh, Ladakh, Fellows from the Naropa Fellowship are actively steering the Election Commission of India’s Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (or SVEEP) program in one of India’s remotest region.

The mandate of the SVEEP team is to generate voter awareness and ensure increased voter turnout along with ethical voting.

Apart from carrying out extensive voter engagement and training in the deepest pockets of the Khaltsi and Nyoma blocks, the Fellows are using different mediums to spread the message including creating a wall mural in the Leh market, thereby, encouraging locals to cast their votes.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Ladakh registered 70% voting, which is high as compared to the rest of the country. The Fellows believe that a near-100% voting is possible in India’s northern-most state with adequate effort and resources.

Ladakh had 166,763 registered electors and 211 polling booths out of which 37 polling booths have less than 50 voters. Only four polling booths have more than a thousand voters. The sparse voter profile and the geographical spread makes this both, a challenge and a possibility.

The Fellows personal highlight, thus far, has been conducting a voter awareness drive for the specially-abled voters at PAGIR (People’s Action Group for Inclusion and Rights) where they are working under the supervision of District Election Officer and have travelled to several remote villages in the Leh district. They have also conducted several voter awareness and enrolment drives with mock polls and delivered workshops on EVM/VVPAT.

Speaking about the SVEEP campaignAbhishek, one of the Naropa Fellows who is participating in the awareness drive said, “We see elections in Ladakh as nothing short of a miracle of democracy. The Election Commission of India goes out of its way to ensure no voter is left behind and Ladakh is great place to see this commitment in action. We approached the deputy commissioner of Leh, MsAvnyLavasa, who encouraged us to join the SVEEP (Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation) team, district Leh under the supervision of the District Election Officer. The experience has been an eye-opener both from the point of view of the difficulties and the possibilities of the task at hand.”

Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, Co-founder Naropa Fellowship said: “This positive step, taken up by the Naropa Fellows was much needed in Ladakh, especially in the small village areas where people are still not aware about the importance of voting or what can be achieved with their single vote. We feel proud seeing our Fellows getting involved in this campaign of national importance and making Ladakh a more aware constituency.”

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