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From Songs And Comics To Posters And Cinema: How The ECI Has Raised Electoral Awareness With Its Creative Campaigns

The Election Commission (ECI) has taken impressive steps forward in launching creative campaigns asking people to fulfil their democratic duty while ensuring a safe and sound election season.

NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images
A man rides past an election awareness poster displayed along a street ahead of India's upcoming general elections, in Hyderabad on March 26, 2024 Photo: NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images
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In a recent promotional video for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the Chief Electoral Officer of Tamil Nadu, Satyabrata Sahoo can be seen singing a song, the words of which ask the youth to exercise their democratic right dutifully, reject and stand against malpractices, and inspire others to do the same. The officer who had no intention of singing initially, chanced upon the idea while visiting the studio during the production of awareness videos, and suggesting changes. 

However, this is not the first time the Election Commission (ECI), the bulwark against electoral malpractices, has taken impressive steps forward in asking people to fulfil their democratic duty and ensure a safe and sound election season. This year, the ECI has designed campaigns and initiatives across social media platforms with the overarching theme of ‘Chunav Ka Parv, Desh Ka Garv’. The campaigns employ the use of comics, animation and include measures to counter spread of fake news and include interactive and informative means like stories called Chunavi Kisse, a word play called Word Play With ECI, the A-Z of elections and visual stories to connect with voters across the country.

To appeal to a wide cross section of people, the EC has always, through celebrities and stars, spread important messages of awareness. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani, Arshad Warsi, Rajkummar Rao have come forward to collaborate with the ECI to help the spread of these advertisements across the length and breadth of the country.  

This year, the ECI has launched the ‘Turning 18’ campaign which has gained popular traction. Addressing the very important role of voting for the first time, the campaign employs various compelling themes and strategies to amplify its appeal. According to the Press Information Bureau, the campaign is designed around strategies involving branding of individual series with thematic logos for easy identification and association, while the campaign also “portrays a comparison of past and recent elections, as ‘then vs. now’ to underscore the progress made over time”. The emphasis lies on the immediacy and the importance of voting upon turning with the campaign seeking to inspire a sense of “civic responsibility" among young voters. Furthermore, infographics, highlighting the growing participation of the women electorate, especially in the age bracket of 18-30 showcases the inclusivity of India's democratic process”.

Gearing up for the elections, the ECI has also launched the ‘You Are The One’ campaign. The initiative highlights the invaluable contributions of “various stakeholders involved in the electoral process including voters and political parties to Booth Level Officers (BLOs), ground staff, polling parties, administrative personnel, media professionals, central forces, and security personnel”. With the help of creative devices and captivating visuals, the campaign highlights the dedication and commitment of these individuals, inspiring pride in their roles and responsibilities within the democratic framework. It also involves interesting anecdotes, and stories from the elections of the past, and digital content that show how the polling teams work behind the scenes overcoming numerous hurdles to make sure every voter is reached.

Last year, in preparation of the assembly election and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the ECI in collaboration with the Subhash Ghai Foundation released a song called ‘Mai Bharat Hoon’ which informs every one of their electoral rights and vote irrespective of differences in caste, language, gender and was launched as a part of the ECI’s systematic voter’s education and electoral participation (SVEEP) programme and promote the organisation’s motto, “No Voter to be Left Behind”. Under the SVEEP, the ECI also released a special edition of Chacha Chaudhary as a part of its outreach programme called the 'Chacha Chaudhary aur Chunavi Dangal', to appeal to young voters.

In 2023, in another creative bid to enhance voter awareness and participation in the Rajasthan assembly elections, ECI started a creatively ingenious campaign in Bhilwara where they employed famous Bollywood film dialogues like from iconic films like Sholay and Mr. India, on posters which encouraged them to exercise their right to vote.

In another similar exercise, in 2017, the ECI in a social media campaign motivated the people of Punjab to cast their vote in 2017 assembly polls with an animated video featuring the character of Gabbar from Sholay by craftily fusing the iconic dialogues from his interaction with Samba and other underlings, to relay important information regarding voter turnout in the last assembly polls. “Bahut nainsaafi hai, es baar poora Punjab vote karega,” declares Gabbar in the video.

As part of Voter Awareness campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the ECI and the Indian Railways came together to design voter awareness adverts and related messages to be used on long distance Trains to carry, including contact details, the Voter Helpline number and the National Voters’ Services Portal besides motivational messages which asked the people to exercise their democratic right. 

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