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27 March 2017 Question Bank


27th MARCH 2017


(2 Questions)

Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.

Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.


1.     Are EVMs in India reliable? What steps need to be taken to further ensure their reliability?


Reliability of EVMs

1.      The Election Commission of India (ECI) has time and again demonstrated, through increased and transparent measures, the reliability and fool-proof nature of the electronic voting machine (EVM).

2.      With EVMs being blamed after the results of five State elections were declared recently, the ECI issued a detailed press note reiterating that EVMs are standalone machines and are not networked either by wire or by wireless to any other machine or system. Hence, they cannot be influenced or manipulated by signals from mobile phones or any other source.

3.      The software in the machine is burnt into a one-time programmable chip or masked chip and can never be altered or tampered with. The source code of the software is not handed over to any outsider.

4.      The ECI also cited judgments of different High Courts and the Supreme Court of India that upheld the reliability of EVMs.

5.      An oft-fired standard, but blunt, weapon employed in the losers' armoury is the reference to names of some countries where electronic voting has been given up. The Netherlands and Germany are cited without either knowing or deliberately concealing the vital fact that in the former it was a networkable PC-type of machine running on OS, while in the latter, their Supreme Court had disallowed electronic voting because their law did not have the enabling provision. Such a situation arose in India too when in 1984, the Supreme Court barred the use of EVMs as the law at that time had provision for use of only ballot paper.

6.      That in the U.S. such a networkable DRS (Direct Recording System) machine is still used extensively across the length and breadth of the country, with no significant doubts expressed about its fidelity, is conveniently glossed over.

SOP proposed by ECI

  • The ECI has prescribed a series of steps in its standard operating procedures to enhance transparency and provide an opportunity for political parties and candidates to participate in testing the reliability of the machines.

1.      During the first-level of testing before the machines are allotted to various constituencies from storage points, party representatives are invited. They can select at random 5% of the machines in which up to 1,000 votes will be polled to demonstrate the reliability and fidelity of the machines. A computer programme allocates, at random, machines to constituencies.

2.      The second-level of testing is done when, from the constituency headquarters, machines are allocated - again at random, using a computer programme - to polling stations. At this juncture, the candidates - who by now come on the scene - are allowed to test the machines at random. The serial number of the machine sent to each polling station is shared with the candidates, who can pass on this information to their representatives in the respective polling stations.

3.      Finally, before the start of the polling process on the day of the election, each presiding officer conducts a mock poll to demonstrate the "correctness" the machine in recording votes. When absurd allegations were floated that the machine has been programmed to record votes to the same candidate who gets the first 50 votes, the ECI mandated using 100 votes in the mock poll on polling day.

Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)

  • The introduction of VVPAT or Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail is certainly a step in the right direction, further strengthening transparency.
  • But full coverage with VVPT is expected by 2019.





1.     Should India revisit its Nuclear Doctrine? Clearly state your stand with justification.


  • Calls for reassessing India's nuclear doctrine are a regular feature of our strategic landscape.
  • India reserves the right to nuclear retaliation "in the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons".
  • Nuclear weapons deter other nuclear weapons. To require them to do more is to imbue these weapons with even more political meaning than they now carry.
  • This ultimate weapon is already a political force: from the limited number of states who can possess them, to the devastating generational and environmental consequences of their use.
  • That is why a policy of No First Use works well: it builds stability into deterrence by credibly promising nuclear retaliation in the face of extreme provocation of a nuclear first strike by one's adversary.
  • It promises to take both you and your adversary to the abyss and raises the cost of the adversary's first strike immeasurably. That is all we need these weapons to do militarily.

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