November 2018
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Nehru's Spectacularly Indian Vision and the Wrath of the RSS

The Modi government's efforts to 'democratise' the Nehru Memorial and Museum and Library (NMML) by embarking on, among other things, building a 'Museu

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Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections: Farmers’ Issues Vs Religion in Hindutva Heartland

The elections to the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly are likely to be a toss-up between matters of faith and issues affecting day to day lives of

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Winning Voter Confidence: Fixing India’s Faulty VVPAT-based Audit of EVMs

As the world’s largest democracy gears up for a season of elections, including the 2019 General Election, there is an urgent need to examine the integrity of the electoral process. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are ‘black boxes’ in which it is impossible for voters to verify whether their votes have been recorded correctly, and counting mistakes and frauds are undetectable and unchallengeable. The ‘voter verified paper audit trail’ (VVPAT) is an additional verifiable record of every vote cast that allows for a partial or total recount independent of the EVM’s electronic count. It is a critical safeguard that can help detect counting mistakes and frauds that would otherwise go undetected. The success of the VVPAT audit, however, depends on a proper, statistically acceptable, and administratively viable sample plan. The Election Commission of India (ECI)’s prescription of a uniform sample size of just “one polling station (i.e. one EVM) per Assembly Constituency” for all Assembly Constituencies and all States stirs up an avoidable controversy and diminishes voter confidence. The ECI has not made public as to how it arrived at this sample size, and it has also not clearly specified the population to which this sample size relates. The latter is important because in the event of a defective EVM turning up in the sample, the hand counting of VVPAT slips will have to be done for all the remaining EVMs of the specified population. In this Policy Watch,  K. Ashok Vardhan Shetty, a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer , demonstrates that the sample size prescribed by the ECI for VVPAT Audit is a statistical howler that fails to conform to fundamental sampling principles, leading to very high margins of error which are unacceptable in a democracy. By failing to detect outcome-altering miscounts due to EVM malfunction or fraud, it defeats the very purpose of introducing VVPAT. Spending hundreds of crores of rupees on procurement of VVPAT units makes little sense if their utilisation for audit purposes is reduced to an exercise in tokenism. This Policy Watch suggests statistically correct—and administratively viable—sample sizes to eliminate the risk of electoral fraud and infuse public confidence in the electoral process. It suggests ways in which the ECI can set the controversy at rest and make a beginning with the elections for five States whose counting is scheduled for December 11, 2018. Click to read this Policy Watch (HTML) [PDF 1.08 MB] Related Article Shetty, K.A.V. 2018 . Making Electronic Voting Machines Tamper-proof: Some Administrative and Technical Suggestions , The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, August 30.

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Winning Voter Confidence: Fixing India’s Faulty VVPAT-based Audit of EVMs

As the world’s largest democracy gears up for a season of elections, including the 2019 General Election, there is an urgent need to examine the integ

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Dissolving the J&K Assembly - A Continuing Political Farce

A former Advocate-General of Jammu and Kashmir described the surprise dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly as being unconstitutional. But the

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Deconstructing Ayushman Bharat and Infusing Institutional Reform

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government recently launched Ayushman Bharat (AB), promising it would revoluti

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Some Views on Public Policy Outcomes in India - Is it the Message or the Messenger?

How has India been doing on the economic and social fronts? The picture that emerges—from casual empiricism as much as from careful analysis of facts