Apr 20, 2024, 05:54 PM IST

Story of indelible ink used in Indian elections

Shweta Singh

Voters, especially first-timers, often display a broad smile, flaunting their left index finger marked with indelible ink after exiting polling booths. This ink signifies the exercise of one's franchise, preventing multiple voting attempts.

The indelible ink, also called voter’s ink, is manufactured by Mysore Paints and Varnishes Ltd (MPVL), a Karnataka-owned public sector company established in 1937 by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the erstwhile Mysore king.

Since 1962, MPVL has been the sole supplier of this ink to the Election Commission of India (ECI), which is used in all Lok Sabha, Assembly, and local body elections.

Additionally, MPVL exports the ink to 28 countries, including the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Turkey, Denmark, and Pakistan, among others.

Each 10 ml vial of ink costs around Rs 142 and can mark the fingers of approximately 500 voters. The ink takes about four weeks to fade from the finger once applied.

In the upcoming general elections, a staggering 814 million voters will participate in choosing representatives for the Lok Sabha.

During the 2009 general elections, MPVL supplied approximately 2 million vials of 10 ml each. Uttar Pradesh alone consumed 2.88 lakh vials.

The electoral ink contains silver nitrate, which stains the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet light, creating an indelible mark.

Typically violet in color, the ink is applied on the voter’s finger in the form of a line from the top end of the nail of the left forefinger.