Monday, April 7, 2014

Innovations And Initiatives In Training Election Personnel -2014

                              Election Polling Personnel And Training Them For Election Duty
          Election for Indian parliament is on. Counting is fixed on May 16, 2014.  First polling is on April 7 and last is on May 12- in seven phases. Real election fare starts with the announcement of polling dates. From this date Model code of conduct is set in motion.
          To conduct a free, fare, peaceful and successful election, we need to mange a complex, complicated and prolonged election exercises. Diverse election activities are conducted and controlled by appointing many Officers-In-Charge(OC). Each OC is given a particular job to perform.
          Among many OCs, the most important portfolio is OC( polling personnel and training). The second place is occupied by OC( transport). All OCs are accompanied by assistant OCs as per the requirement.
         In most of the districts, the senior most public servant of district administration is made OC personnel and training. On this criterian, Chief Development Officers(CDO) are assigned this task.
         A polling booth needs a presiding officer(PO) and three more officials as per norm. Hence, a team of four for each booth is trained along with ten percent reserve in a tight time schedule.
          In District Firozabad, UP, as CDO, I am OC for this task. Our team has four more officers as assistant OC. In all, about 12000 officials are engaged in election activities of a single seat of MP.
          Some officials are attached to each OC to carry out a particular job. Almost 9700 officials are needed for booths as per ECI software and randomisation. Therefore, we have plan training for 10000 persons.


             Training is planned in three phases. One, EVM( Electronic Voting Machine) training at 18 different locations to get trained officials and to acquire efficiency certificate from master trainers. Two, first training after first randomisation. This is code allotment to each randomly, electronically by a software. Three, Second training after second randomisation before Observer to form party with a code number  identity.
              Election duty is a tough, tight, sensitive, critical and risky job. Therefore, many officials try to get rid of this duty. For prefect election, official needs to learn and practice each step assigned by election commission.
             A minor mistake may invite re-poll and breaking of trust of public in election system. Hence, everyone involved and engaged officials have to act and tread very cautiously while on election assignment.
             Training is designed in a  tight time schedule.  Master trainers(MT) are trained first. MTs are facilitated to make training efficient. All required facilities are made available to MTs and trainees.

           A different behaviour and attitude is needed on the part of officials to conduct elections as per ECI norm. Overconfidence and non-learning mode- as usual among workers- is highly harmful to whole exercise.
           Three main critical issues need special design in training for officials: One, late coming and not following time schedule of training. Two, making them serious for training to learn and practice. Three, keeping them in training class. After getting attendance in class by MT, some of them go out.
           We faced these problem on the first day of training. MTs complained about these. They told because of these quality of training is not as expected. After getting feedback from MTs, I started to find its solution.  Within hours, I got the idea and implemented it and quality improved to desire level.
            Our trainings are in four sessions and each of two hours. It begins  sharp at nine in the morning. In every session each is imparted two hours general and two hours EVM training. Attendance sheet is taken after ten minutes after each session is started.
            Late comers are not able to put their signatures on attendance sheet if they are late by ten minutes. MTs are directed to write the exact time of coming on their appointment letter. MTs train them and mention this on the appointment letter.
              At six in evening, one Officer is assigned to take attendance of all such late coming officials on the basis of the note of MT on the their appointment letter . This way trainees get all training but for attendance they have to wait till six in the evening.
               Late comers wait till six is a mild but effective way make them felt importance of time. This is making officials disciplined time wise. In second training and on party movement day we would not face this problem. This initiative and innovation  paid. MTs gave very positive feedback on this issue after it has been implemented.

             To bring trainees officials in learning mode and making them serious about it, we have coined a effective word Lottery. All MT are briefed the concept of Lottery. They start their class with this.
            The whole idea is, after training, name of officials would be selected by lottery system. Those whose name will come in lottery will have to appear in an exam before a panel. Exam time, date and place will be communicated. If failed then the harshest punishment will be awarded like FIR or suspension.

         The idea of lottery made officials serious. They are fearful. Lottery can name anyone for exam. MTs gave feedback because of this idea trainees are serious to learn and practice in order to pass lottery exam. To implement this idea lottery exam plan is chalked out.
          In second training a new initiative is taken. An affadavit proforma is developed. Affadavit is a written declaration made under oath before a notary public or other authorised officer. All personnel are giving affadavit in second training. This declaration makes all associated, involved and committed. This give a good pshycological impact to coduct free,fare and peaceful election. With this they bind themselves with election. 



           On poll day first two hours are very troublesome. Different varieties of problems are reported from booths by booth polling officials. A panic atmosphere is created as per experience. To avoid this and to have a smooth polling and peaceful election, we need to train officials rigorously and accurately.
           We always keep in mind to enhance the public faith  in election system by our transparent and impartial activities. All doubts are clarified as soon as they are brought to our notice. Trained officials are a great help and a big connect in this endeavour. These  trained personnel act as election resource point. 
Heera Lal ( views are personal and based on experience)