Monday, January 19, 2015

Know Your Babu: CEC Harishankar Brahma, his tech priorities, and views on doubtful voters

Taking Charge: New CEC Brahma
LAST week, 1975-batch former IAS from Andhra Pradesh cadre Harishankar Bramha took charge as India’s 19th Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) succeeding VS Sampath, also a former IAS from Andhra Pradesh cadre. Brahma, who is the second person from the North-East to become CEC after JM Lyngdoh, originally hails from…
Assam and belongs to a plains tribe called Bodo. After assuming charge, Bramha announced that on January 25, which is celebrated as National Voters’ Day, the Election Commission of India will launch nationwide Electronic Roll Management System (ERMS) providing a country-wide voters list thereby enabling voters to see their details. His personal endeavour will be to use the latest technologies so as to improve the quality of election management, he added.
Before taking up the job of an Election Commissioner, Brahma had served as union power secretary. The other important posts that he had held as a bureaucrat included the posts of joint secretary (border management), special secretary and additional secretary in National Disaster Management Authority, a body that falls under the ministry of home affairs.
He also served as member secretary of the State Electricity Board, Andhra Pradesh and Commissioner in Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad. In Andhra Pradesh, he was also commissioner (transport) and ex-officio secretary (transport, road and building) and principal secretary (environment, forest, science and technology).
A product of Don Bosco School, Guwahati, Brahma graduated from St. Edmund’s College, Shillong, and completed his post gradation in political science from Gauhati University.
Despite working mostly in Andhra Pradesh and Delhi, he remained connected to the issues concerning his home state, Assam. Even as an Election Commissioner, he wrote a piece in The Indian Express (July 28, 2012) where he had blamed illegal immigration from Bangladesh for the 2012 Assam violence where Bodos and Muslims clashed.” …the clashes were not wholly unexpected…Assam has been virtually sitting on a huge tinderbox,” he said.
In fact, he took a strong position against the illegal migration to the country. He argued in the article that even the Election Commission of India is not immune to this problem of illegal migrants. “It (EC) has to tackle the problem of D-Voters (doubtful voters), numbering approximately 1.5 lakh, while preparing the electoral rolls of Assam. The subject matter is sub-judice. This also poses a very serious security threat to the country.” Brahma's views are clear: all pending cases lying in various courts and tribunals need to be disposed of within a definite timeframe. And those who are found to be illegal migrants by these tribunals should be deported.

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