of state-owned Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd (MPVL) are having sleepless nights working over the past two months to produce the ink for the Lok Sabha elections. The black mark on the fingers of all those who have cast their votes is also a symbol of pride. 'Kala tika', as has been espoused in a TV commercial, is the symbol of exercising your franchise. Polls mean overtime for this 77-year-old public sector company in Mysore. Over the decades, MPVL has been tasked to manufacture indelible ink used to mark the voter’s finger.
The election fever has already gripped the entire nation. Over a billion voters will cast their votes to elect 543 Members of Parliament. The Election Commission of India is busy making preparations for the big show. But apart from all those engaged in poll duties, Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd is equally busy manufacturing the indelible ink for the voters.
The state-owned company is producing indelible ink for 81 crore voters, says MPVL managing director MV Hemanth Kumar.
Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, the erstwhile Mysore king, established the company way back in 1937. It was converted into a public sector undertaking in 1947. The PSU specialized in manufacturing and supply of quality Indelible Ink, in association with the Election Commission of India, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), and National Research Development Corporation (NRDC). It is the sole authorized supplier of this type of foolproof Indelible Ink in India having exclusive license granted by National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), New Delhi since 1962.
Apart from supplying indelible ink to Indian elections, MPVL has been exporting the indelible ink to 28 countries across the world since 1976. Turkey, South Africa, Nigeria, Nepal, Ghana, Papua-New Guinea, Burkina Faso, Canada, Togo, Sierra Leone, Malaysia, Cambodia are some of the countries receiving the indelible ink that has over the decades emerged as the sacred symbol of the exercise of universal adult franchise.
“We have received orders for manufacturing 21.65 lakh vials of ink for the coming elections. Already, 14 lakh vials have been supplied to 20 States, and the remaining will get their supply before March-end. Each vial contains 10 ml of ink,” Kumar said. “The production is in full swing,” he said.
Kumar said the company had supplied 19.4 lakh vials of ink for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. There is a 10 percent increase for the elections this year, he said.
Each vial costs Rs 142 (excluding excise duty and VAT). Each 10-ml vial can be applied on about 500 voters. It has a shelf-life of six months and it remains on the finger for about three weeks, he said. The MPVL is the sole supplier of ink for elections in the country. The indelible ink is made of a special chemical combination formulated by the National Physical Laboratory.
Today, MPVL is one of the profit-making and dividend-paying company. Some of its key customers include government establishments and PSUs such as Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), BHEL, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Chennai Port Trust and BSNL.
So, till the electoral process gets over, the 200 odd employees of the PSU will have to work overtime to ensure that all eligible voters can exercise rights to elect the most suitable candidate.