Of late, political parties have been constantly complaining about tampering and rigging of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). However, the CMD of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), M.V. Gowtama, has claimed that EVMs just cannot be tampered with under any circumstance.
Interestingly, BEL is the main manufacturer and supplier of EVMs to the Election Commission of India besides the Hyderabad-based ECIL.
“The 'loser' political party will have complaints about EVM tampering, but they (EVMs) cannot be tampered with, both electronically and physically. People of India have full confidence in them, and many other countries are looking at them to use in their election system. Recently, Namibia conducted their election using EVMs manufactured by us, and even Nepal is seriously looking at them to conduct their elections. Machine failure of EVMs is not tampering, and it is our constant endeavour to make EVMs more robust in the near future,” remarked Gowtama.
He further explained that primarily there were two grades of machines manufactured at BEL—the military grade machines that were tested for difficult environment and extreme conditions, and commercial machines such as the EVMs. “A military grade machine will have the ability to withstand severe environmental conditions. EVM is a commercial item and low priced, costing less than Rs 10,000 each. Even in day-to-day life there could be defects in commercial machines, but the defects in the machine does not mean that it can be tampered with,” noted Gowtama.
BEL manufactures its EVMs at different locations in Bengaluru, and during the last fiscal year 2017-18 it supplied around two lakh machines to the election commission. This current fiscal, BEL is planning to supply around 10 lakh machines to the Election Commission. “The new model of EVMs is expected to have much more add on features that will help it secure further. Even if one tries to physically tamper with them, they would stop functioning. Even if a person uses high intensity laser, he will not be able to tamper with the EVMs. In order to cater to international requirements, we have a separate team as the EVMs that are used in India cannot be the same for international purposes. Our R&D team is constantly working on adding more features on the EVMs,” A.T.Kalghatgi, director, (R&D) Bharat Electronics Limited, told THE WEEK.
Apparently, this PSU spends is one of the highest amongst the PSUs on its Research and Development (R&D) efforts. Last fiscal, it spent around Rs 988 crore on R&D and this fiscal year the company outlook is to spend around 9-10 per cent of its overall revenues on R&D—around Rs 1,000 crore. The company's overall turnover last fiscal registered a 14 per cent growth over the previous year and reached Rs 10,085 crore (2017-18) from Rs 8,825 crore (2016-17). The export turnover of the company was $ 26 million. The future thrust areas of BEL will be Cognitive and Artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Cyber Security, Cloud Computing and Data Analytics.