Made in India EVMs in demand abroad

April 6th, 2009 - 11:51 am ICT by IANS  

By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) Bhutan got them for its elections last year and Nepal has acquired them too. Indian-made Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) are making waves abroad, not just in our neighbourhood but right up to the African continent.

The Namibian government has placed orders for the voting machines, while Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria have evinced interest as have neighbours Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Amol Newaskar, general manager of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bangalore, which is one of the two public sector companies manufacturing EVMs for the Election Commission, said they had supplied 470 EVMs to Nepal about a month back.

“Only recently we supplied EVMs to Nepal through the ministry of external affairs. As of now, talks are on with Namibia and a contract has been signed. They want 2,000 EVMs, but the production has not yet begun,” Newaskar told IANS on phone from Bangalore.

Malaysia, he added, has also shown interest in acquiring the machine.

Although BEL has been manufacturing EVMs for years now, the batches from 2007 onwards have improvised features such as in-built clocks which make the machine much smarter.

“The new EVMs don’t just record your ballot, but also the exact time when you cast it. It also gives hourly polling updates. Therefore if someone says that his or her vote was being tampered with, the time when they cast their vote can be found out.

“All of this ensures that balloting is more tamper proof,” Newaskar said.

Besides BEL, Hyderabad-based Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) also manufactures EVMs. And both have been supplying the machines to the election commission. ECIL manufactured EVMs have also been supplied abroad by the Indian government.

According to K.S. Rajasekhara Rao, chairman of ECIL, in the Bhutan elections last year, around 4,140 EVMs manufactured by the company were supplied.

“Many others countries like Sri Lanka, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria and Bangladesh have expressed a keen interest in acquiring these machines too,” Rao said.

Although the new EVMs have improvised features, most countries want the machines with further modifications.

“The EVMs that we supply and which will be used in the April-May general elections have a number of new features like in-built clocks and Braille markings for the blind. But many countries which are interested in these machines want modified features to suit their needs,” Newaskar said.

The machine is priced around Rs.9,800, inclusive of taxes. Although the officials refused to quote a price, they said the EVMs supplied abroad are priced in the same range.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.p@ians.in )

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