On 2–3 November 2017, the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Indian International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Management (IIIDEM) organized a Building Resources in Democracy Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) showcase and implementation workshop in New Delhi with the support of International IDEA and the Australian Election Commission (AEC). The workshop marked the first BRIDGE event that the ECI and IIIDEM has implemented to date.
Following an International IDEA & ECI consultative workshop in July 2017 entitled “Leveraging Electoral Training Facilities in Democracies”, the ECI and IIIDEM invited BRIDGE partners, International IDEA and the AEC, to help run the workshop. The objective was to assist the ECI and IIIDEM to better understand the BRIDGE methodology in practice as well as how BRIDGE can be integrated with or complement IIIDEM’s existing training programme, delivered in India and internationally.
According to Shanti Ram Bimali, Accrediting BRIDGE facilitator, International IDEA, “the showcase workshop aims to familiarize participants with what BRIDGE is (its scope and flexibility), and how to best implement it.”
BRIDGE is a modular professional development program with a particular focus on electoral processes. It is “committed to an activity based, ‘inquiry learning’ approach based on adult learning principles, flexibility, interactivity, informality as well as awareness of diversity and differences in expectations.” said Erik Asplund (Programme Officer, International IDEA).
“Typically, a BRIDGE showcase and implementation workshop covers BRIDGE content, materials and methodology in order to expose key players and decision makers to relevant aspects of BRIDGE so that they can make an informed choice on its applicability” said Peita Mamo, accrediting BRIDGE facilitator and Acting Director, AEC. It also aims “to provide guidance to individuals and organizations responsible for designing and setting up training programs that use material taken from the BRIDGE curriculum.”
The workshop was attended by approximately 25 participants comprising of decision makers, potential BRIDGE Facilitators and Implementers from the ECI, IIIDEM, Administrative Training Institutes of the provinces, National Level Master Trainers and State Level Master Trainers.
The workshop was inaugurated by ECI Chief Election Commissioner, A. K. Joti; Election Commissioner, Om Prakash Rawat; Deputy Commissioner, Suvdeep Jain; AEC Acting Director, Peita Mamo; and International IDEA Programme Officer, Erik Asplund. ECI Director, Vivek Khare and member of the International IDEA Board of Advisors, S. Y. Quraishi also attended the workshop and offered their remarks during the closing ceremony.
“There is a singular acceptance of the BRIDGE methodology by countries across the globe which is quite fascinating. It shows that BRIDGE recognizes that the context of training has to be different for different countries” said Om Prakash Rawat, Election Commissioner (ECI).
Moving forward, the ECI and IIIDEM will take stock of the workshop’s findings and discuss possibilities for further scoping and BRIDGE implementation in 2018 and beyond.
BRIDGE represents a unique initiative, where five leading organizations in the democracy and governance field have jointly committed to developing, implementing and maintaining the most comprehensive curriculum and workshop package available, designed to be used as a tool within a broader capacity development framework. Since 2001, 2,167 BRIDGE workshops have been conducted in more than 100 countries, with over 15,000 participants. As at November there have been 147 BRIDGE modules delivered at 83 workshops in 2017 alone.
The IIIDEM was established in 2011 by the ECI as its training , education and resource facility, tasked to “cater to capacity building requirements of officials as well as to assist other Electoral Management Bodies in need of technical and capacity building assistance.” Since its establishment, a total of 202 domestic and 30 international programmes have been conducted. Existing international courses include courses on: electoral management, voter registration, voter education, technology in electoral management, inclusive voting and grievance redressal mechanisms. The IIIDEM is currently housed within the main ECI building in New Delhi but will be move to a new dedicated campus in 2018 close to the capital.
For further information about the event, see the ECI press note “Two-Day BRIDGE Showcase and Implementation Workshop held at IIIDEM”
 IIIDEM Brochure http://iiidem.nic.in/PDF/IIIDEM%20Campus%20Brochure.pdf