‘SMS’-ing countrymen about their highest democratic right – in case if they forget

THE Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has approached the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) requesting all the cellular service providers to send short messaging services (SMS) to their consumers on polling day requesting them to exercise their franchise.
In a statement, the chamber has said that the SMS will not convey any affiliation to a political party, but would only request the voters to go out and vote. The COAI consumer base is estimated at about 3.5 crore. While the first SMS merely saying `Please exercise your right to vote' will be sent out at 9 a.m. a second message will go out at 2 p.m. asking the customer `Have you exercised your right to vote.' The move is part of an effort being made by the chamber in association with the Election Commission to spread awareness among young voters to get registered, exercise their franchise and improve the awareness of voters. Besides, as part of its corporate social responsibility programme, the chamber will organise events to encourage people, especially young voters, to exercise their franchise. The statement said that the chamber's regional offices are also engaged in generating awareness through poster campaigns and setting up touch screens terminals/desktops and dissemination through retail outlets in major cities. Touch screens/desktops have been installed in Bangalore. Besides, desktops have been set up at the Deputy Commissioners' Office primarily to target the rural population in the outskirts of the city. In addition, touch screens have also been put in place in Chennai and Hyderabad while a 20-seater call centre has become fully operational in Bangalore, the statement said. The touch screens terminals/desktops provide information on the elections, including how to use the electronic voting machine.