Tiruchi Siva: “Draft citizen volunteers for poll duty”

The Government plans to withdraw teachers from poll duty. A welcome decision in view of the alarming vacancy of teachers, but what are the alternatives, asked DMK MP Tiruchi Siva

Photo by Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Political Bureau

Text from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP’s intervention in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament last week


In the United States of America, local citizens above the age of 18 may volunteer to serve as election officers at a local polling station. These volunteers are given special training which would enable them to discharge their duties efficiently.


According to a report ‘Innovations in Election Administration’, released by the Federal Election Commission of USA, ' One of the most surprising aspects of the volunteer programme is that requesting volunteer support actually appeals to people who otherwise may not consider working at a polling place. This opens up a whole new population of potential election workers, far beyond the limited resource base of retired senior citizens.


In Australia, the Australian Election Commission employs around 80,000 Australians on a short-term temporary basis for electoral events and duties, and they are remunerated accordingly. Citizens of Australia, above the age of 18, can register with the Election Commission, and are thus deployed on election duties. Why can’t our country follow the same?


Moreover, apart from the unemployed youth, retired teachers also can be employed. Those who are already experienced in the election duties could be employed.

“I would urge that keeping in view the interest of the nation, the future of the children who are in schools, and, the pain and suffering, which the teachers are undergoing while they are engaged in other non-teaching duties, this Bill should be passed. Due to these duties, teachers are not able to concentrate on teaching the students, thereby diminishing the already-declining standard of education in our nation.”
Tiruchi Siva, MP

Recently, in a press note, the [former] Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Shri [Ram Shankar] Katheria, said, "The Government is planning to relieve the teachers from the poll duties." This is a welcome decision in view of the chronic shortage of teachers in the country.


Recently we learnt that in Madhya Pradesh 4,000 schools don’t have even one teacher. A total of 9,07,585 posts of teachers are vacant in the country. Day before yesterday also, a question came that even in the Central Universities, posts of some 6,000 professors are vacant. The Delhi University itself has got 3,000-odd vacancies.


In Uttar Pradesh, vacancies against sanctioned SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) posts, are 1,24,196. And vacancies against total posts sanctioned under state programme were put at 45,334, totaling 2,69,539 vacancies in Uttar Pradesh alone. In Bihar, it is 2,19,066; in West Bengal, it is 1,05,200. In Jharkhand, it is 69,163.


I would urge that keeping in view the interest of the nation, the future of the children who are in schools, and, the pain and suffering, which the teachers are undergoing while they are engaged in other non-teaching duties, this Bill should be passed. Due to these duties, teachers are not able to concentrate on teaching the students, thereby diminishing the already-declining standard of education in our nation.

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Published: 06 Feb 2017, 4:22 PM