The Election Commission of India has increased the number of Voter Verifiable paper audit trail machines it has in reserve by 10% for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, The Indian Express reported on Sunday, quoting a note from the poll panel. The decision comes in the wake of several incidents of these machines malfunctioning during recent Assembly elections.
The Election Commission said it was allocating more machines for the Lok Sabha elections as there was a possibility of “high failure rate due to manual intervention” since many states would be using it for the first time. “With intensive training and structured capacity building programme, the percentage of VVPAT failure can be reasonably expected to be reduced by 1%-2% only,” the poll panel said in a note. “Despite this reduction, the overall failure rate of VVPATs is likely to remain around 8%-9%, which is 7%-8% higher than EVM [Electronic Voting Machines] failure.”
The poll panel ordered 1.3 lakh Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail Machines on June 20, besides the 16.15 lakh machines it has already ordered. This will increase the election body’s reserve from 25% to 35%. The total number of VVPAT machines ordered has now gone up to 17.4 lakh.
The EC has set a deadline of October 30 for the delivery of the new machines, which is expected to cost Rs 250.16 crore. The Bharat Electronics Limited in Bengaluru will produce an estimated 79,000 VVPAT machines, while the rest will be made by the Electronics Corporation of India Limited in Hyderabad.
In July, the poll panel admitted that the delivery had been delayed as a technical experts committee was analysing “technology stabilisation issues” in the machines and incorporating design improvements. However, the poll panel said that the machines will be delivered before the end of November.
On May 28, VVPAT malfunctions were reported from many polling stations in the Kairana and Bhandara-Gondiya bypolls. In Maharashtra’s Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency, polling was suspended in 35 booths. In the Kairana Lok Sabha bye-election in Uttar Pradesh, Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate Tabassum Hasan wrote to the election panel after polling began, complaining that voting machines and voter-verified paper audit trails were malfunctioning at nearly 175 booths.
The Samajwadi Party also alleged that EVMs were tampered during the Noorpur Assembly bye-election. The party’s leader, Akhilesh Yadav, alleged that he had received complaints about thousands of faulty voting machines.
After the complaints, the EC had to replace 20.8% of VVPATs deployed in Kairana and 19.22% in Bhandara-Gondiya. This led to re-election in 73 polling stations of Kairana and 49 in Bhandara-Gondiya.
A VVPAT produces a printout of the vote cast using an electronic voting machine, which can be displayed to voters. The printout is then stored in a box and can be used to resolve disputes in the future. Last year, the poll panel had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court and said it would introduce VVPATs in all polling stations for the 2019 general elections.
Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”
The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.
This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.
All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.
The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.
There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.
Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages.
Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.
But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.
“Nice girls don’t do that.”
“So I’m a bad girl.”
“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”
“Bad girls get in trouble.”
“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”
“What bad things?”
“Very bad things.”
A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.
This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with.
It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.
“Have some shame!”
“Oh for shame!”
“Do not bring shame upon…”
Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.
It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.
And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.
The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!
Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).
Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:
This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.