Indelible ink: Know about the ink which has become symbol of elections in India

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New Delhi: The indelible ink has become a hallmark of the elections in India. People use the ink mark on their fingers to show that they have exercised their fundamental right to vote. Also, it is rightly flaunted as a symbol of democracy, where the ink finger proves that the power lies with the people when it comes to electing their leaders. The Lok Sabha elections in 2024 are just around the corner and political parties are gearing up to fight for the trust of the population. Ahead of the much-anticipated occasion, we take a look at the tryst of the indelible ink with India and how it has become a symbol of elections.

Indelible ink and democracy in India

The indelible ink shows India’s democratic values and it is used in many other countries to stop duplication of voting and other fraudulent activities. The ink is applied generally over the left index fingernail and cuticle. According to reports, the ink is safe for the skin and does not have any side effects.

What is the composition of the indelible ink?

The main ingredient of the indelible ink is known only to the Election Commission of India and the firms manufacturing it for obvious security reasons. As per the information available on government websites, the ink contains 10 to 18 per cent silver nitrate, dyes, aromatic materials and some other chemicals which have not been divulged. The stain produced by the silver nitrate alone can last for several weeks.

One cannot remove the ink for several days even if the person tries to do so with detergent, soap, oil or any other chemical. Once the ink is applied to the finger, it takes less than 40 seconds to dry out. The stain remains on the skin for about 72 to 96 hours and for two to four weeks on the fingernail and cuticle areas.

When was the indelible ink first used?

In 1957, the indelible ink was first used during a plebicite in Colombia and the formula of the ink was invented by Dr. José Vicente Azcuénaga Chacón.

When was the indelible ink first used in India?

The ink was first used in India during the 1962 general elections. Ahead of the polls that year, the Election Commission of India, the Ministry of Law and Justice, the National Physical Laboratory and the National Research Development Corporation gave the Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited (MPVL) for the supply of indelible ink for Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections. Since then, over the years, the ink has been applied to every voter in these elections, and it has become one of the symbols of democracy in India.

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