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regular-article-logo Monday, 26 February 2024

Election Commission releases Chacha Chaudhary comic book under campaign to educate voters

Chacha Chaudhary aur Chunavi Dangal (Chacha Chaudhary and the electoral bout) is a 60-page comic book published by the Election Commission of India (EC) as part of its Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme

Pheroze L. Vincent New Delhi Published 23.09.23, 11:41 AM
Election Commission of India's comic book Chacha Chaudhary aur Chunavi Dangal, released on September 20 by CEC Rajiv Kumar at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi.

Election Commission of India's comic book Chacha Chaudhary aur Chunavi Dangal, released on September 20 by CEC Rajiv Kumar at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi. Photo courtesy EC

The giant Sabu bashes up hoodlums Gobar Singh and Dhamaka Singh when they try to rig polls and bribe voters. Chacha Chaudhary reports them on the C-Vigil App. Billoo registers as a voter on his 18th birthday on nvsp.in.

These are snapshots from Chacha Chaudhary aur Chunavi Dangal (Chacha Chaudhary and the electoral bout), a 60-page comic book published by the Election Commission of India (EC) as part of its Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme.

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The EC will be distributing 10,000 copies of the comic book in schools, colleges and libraries in the Hindi-speaking states, an official told The Telegraph. “We plan to translate the comic book into Bengali, Marathi and English if the feedback of the Hindi version is encouraging.”

In 2021, the poll panel had published a general comic book called Chalo Karein Matdaan as part of the SVEEP programme. This time, however, it has used a popular comic character — the red-turbaned do-gooder senior citizen Chacha Chaudhary.

A hugely popular comic character for more than half a century in North India, Chacha Ji has remained in vogue even after his creator Pran passed away in 2014. A company now run by his family brings out these comics, and Chacha Ji has been a mascot for the Centre’s Swachh Bharat and Namami Gange schemes.

The SVEEP programme, launched before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, focuses on public events and outdoor publicity which is mostly sponsored by local advertisers at the district level. These include, for example, a marathon where runners wear vests with stickers that promote the EC's message or fuel station attendants wearing t-shirts asking the electorates to vote. These broadly fall under the information-motivation-facilitation paradigm — which the EC continues to do.

It was revamped last year to strengthen the outreach on education, engagement and empowerment with the focus on categories of voters, and booths where turnout is below average. The comic book is targeted to motivate young and future voters.

Although the EC has been criticised in the recent past for not stalling the influx of untraceable wealth to enter the poll process via electoral bonds, the comic book focuses heavily on electoral manipulation by money and muscle power. It also touches upon the facilitation of disabled and elderly voters and even encourages rural women, and illiterate citizens to vote.

The EC said in a statement: “On the occasion, CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar said that comics as an outreach medium is relevant and irreplaceable, even in this age of digital media… With a significant following among children and teenagers, this medium enables the Election Commission to effectively engage with the youth, fostering a sense of informed and responsible citizenship from an early age.”

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