National Elections Quiz (NEQ) 2018, a pan-India knowledge venture on elections and electoral processes is perhaps the World's largest inter school quiz contest on elections witnessing an astounding participation of 13,63,982 students from 38,160 schools! A brainchild of the Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation SVEEP division of the Election Commission of India, it is aimed as an outreach initiative for the future electors of the country dedicated to ECI's theme for the year 2017, Empowering Young and Future Electors. NEQ is an extension of the Interactive School Engagement (ISE) programme (Phase I and Phase II) that covered more than 55 lakh students from nearly 30,000 schools. NEQ 2018, the integrated communicative effort that started in November 2017, concluded on the 16th of January, 2018 with the Grand Finale taking place at the Rajya Sabha TV Studios in New Delhi.
Planned in a ladder-like structure, the overall aim of the endeavour is- To engage high-school students from Classes IX to XII (in the age-group of 14-17 years) – the future voters of India, in a self-learning exercise about elections and electoral process and aid in building an aware and informed electorate of the future. Treading the length and breadth of the country, the structure of NEQ 2018 adhered to the following outline-
Level 1: The Intra-School Round
Scheduled between the 1st and 15th of November 2017, the Intra-School Round comprised a set of functional and essential questions testing the participants' basic electoral knowledge. The competition was organized entirely by schools within their campus ambits with content assistance from Election Commission of India and the District Election Officers. The winners advanced to the next stage of the Quiz.
Level 2: The District Round
Organized between 27th November to 3rd December 2017, the District Round was a collaborative effort shared by the District Election Officers (DEOs) and the District Education Departments. The participants competed through a written question paper of moderate difficulty. The two-member teams scoring the highest advanced to the State Round.
Level 3: The State Round
Planned around the year-end as the penultimate on-stage event with several rounds of rigorous quizzing, the State Round for NEQ 2018 witnessed the transfer of batons to the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) who served as bandmasters for the final level before letting the scene shift to the National Capital.
With the NEQ Nationals itinerary beginning from the 13th of January, 2018 (Saturday), the NEQ State acers were congratulated at the Commission Headquarters (NirvachanSadan) by Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha and Director (SVEEP) Padma Angmo who extended their best wishes before the participants were taken on a guided tour of the city- to the RashtrapatiBhavan and the Qutb Complex. Staggered across the following two days, the educative trip or, the Delhi Darshan, also included visits to popular places of attraction like, the Red Fort, Humayun's Tomb, Elections Museum, Gandhi Smriti and the Birla Mandir. As a bonus, participants also visited NEQ's partner- Facebook India's office in Delhi.
Taking place over the course of 3 days from the 14th of January, 2018 to 16th January, 2018 at the Rajya Sabha TV Studios in New Delhi and receiving content support from Jesus and Mary College and Ambedkar University, the Zonal Finals and the Grand Finale of NEQ 2018 included questions on the following themes and many more- Elections in India, The Election Commission of lndia, History of Democracies and Elections, Voting Processes, Voter Education and Literacy, National Voters' Day & its Inception, Electoral Technology, Electoral Terminology Rules- The Model Code of Conduct, Landmark Steps and Measures, Popular Stories, Personalities, Elections across the world, Electoral Management Bodies, Types of Elections, International Electoral Organizations and Foundations, Popular Culture and Elections, Election Symbols, Elections to Local Bodies, Women and Elections, Constituent Assembly Debates on Universal Suffrage, Famous Parliamentary Debates on Elections
Level 4: The Zonal Finals
Six in number and scheduled on just two days, the Zonal Finals witnessed some intense and high-octane quizzing from the 72 State Winners (36 teams) as they gave their all-in and battled for a berth in the Top 6. At the end of three exciting days of contest, teams from Manipur (from the North-East Semi Finals), Puducherry (from the South Zone Semi-Finals), Goa (representing the West Zone), Delhi (from the Special Central Zone), Jharkhand (representing the East Zone) and Jammu & Kashmir (from the North Zone) edged past 60 equally brilliant contenders to scalp a place in the much coveted Finale.
Level 5: The National Finals
Anchored by World Quizzing Champion (2014) Vikram Joshi, the Grand Finale of NEQ 2018 was easily a battle of nerves, wits and guts. Featuring some spectacular answering by the 6 teams, but marked by a consistent lead by the team from DPS, Ranchi representing Jharkhand, the Finale comprised 4 rounds- two general, an innovative grid round and one on the buzzer, with none of the 12 challengers leaving an ounce of space for error. Doing an encore of their Semi-Finals century record and scoring a stupendous 105 points in the mind-sport contest, team Jharkhand represented by Madhur Jain and AdityaKumar, eventually went to clinch a thriller trouncing everyone to seal their place as the first National Champions of the National Elections Quiz. Giving a tough-fight but finishing 2nd were R. Mithun Krishna and V.VishnuPriya from Puducherry with the all-boys team from Manipur comprising AshmaanMainali and Shangker Singh Laishram standing 3rd. Teams from Delhi, Goa and Jammu & Kashmir finished 4th, 5th and 6th respectively.
Organized on the evening of the 16th at NirvachanSadan lawns, the post-event presentation ceremony was graced by Chief Election Commissioner A.K Joti, Election Commissioner O.P Rawat and Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, who felicitated the winners drawing to a close the nearly 3-month long exercise.
A one-of-a-kind endeavour seeking to engage with and initiate a conversation with the youth of India on the fulcrum of Indian democracy, NEQ 2018- the World's Largest Quiz on Elections, should ideally be viewed as a part of an interlinked communicative project (including the Interactive School Engagement programme and Electoral Literacy Clubs) that strives to achieve the twin goals of habit-formation and behaviour-change specifically with regard to one of its core stakeholders, upon which hinges the destiny of the nation.
An event, supported by Facebook, watch the Grand Finale of NEQ 2018 via Facebook Live on our page India Votes, Facebook India and Governments, Politics and Non-Profits on Facebook in India and South Asia.
National Elections Quiz Audience Question Winners: