Campaign VATAN in Andaman & Nicobar Islands
The Andaman & Nicobar Islands experience turned out to be one of the unique and inspiring stories of the Lok Sabha elections 2014. Apart from the obvious challenges posed by nature with crocodile-inhabited link rivulets, the wrath of the sea, deep forests and populations scattered in 37 inhabited islands across an area of 8249 sq. km, the UT faced unexpected problems. The dim presence of private media channels, lack of major newspapers and big hoardings, and great dependence on the national and mainland based TV channels, were coupled with the failure of the main INSAT satellite which significantly interrupted phone and internet services around the election period.
However, the connectivity and communication crisis was well dealt with, and SVEEP came up with greater force to engage voters in the electoral process. Building upon the traditional forms of communication like ‘Jatras’ and ‘Nautankis’, a Voter Awareness Team for Andaman and Nicobar Islands (VATAN) was created, comprising of local performing artists, college students and volunteers who moved from place to place, singing songs, enacting plays and encouraging people to vote. Each VATAN team had approximately six members including a trainer who was trained by a master trainer at the district level, identified by the Department of Election. The 25 VATANs covered all the polling stations and were exceedingly popular. As they went through the islands, they distributed pamphlets, put up posters and banners and passed on information to people about local level initiatives that they could take up.