The Candid Eye

May 28, 2009

Electronic Voting Machines – Are they 100% tamper proof??

Filed under: Elections '09 — thecandideye @ 3:00 AM
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The AIADMK in TamilNadu has passed a resolution recently that the Election Commission should revert to voting through ballot boxes.Excerpts on the same with my emphasis.

Accusing the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam of using money power and malpractices to win the Lok Sabha polls, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam said the Election Commission should revert to voting through ballot boxes.

Taking stock of the Lok Sabha election results, the party’s executive council meeting in Chennai, presided over by AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa, passed a resolution, stating that some developed countries reverted to ballot system of voting due to irregularities in the Electronic Voting Machines.

While there are some incidents in which the EVMs malfunctioned and changed the results of the election in that consituency,still they are considered fool proof by many people.These EVMs are manufactured by Bharat Elecronics,Bangalore and Electronic conrporation of India, Hyderabad.Election Commisson of India says there are a number of benifits using Electrnic machines instead using old ballot boxes and measures are taken to avoid possible malfunctioning.But still, some questions naturally arise regarding the EVMs.They are:

1) Some of the EVMs are malfunctioning  even though it is manufactured by Navaratna status company BEL. What is the quality control being followed for these machines in these companies?Are these measures stringent enough to avoid malfunctioning of the machines?

2) Are the EVMs used in India sufficiently shielded against Van Eck Phreaking?

3) I believe calibration is done properly for these machines.Are recalibration facilities/methods easily and quickly available in the event of malfunctioning?There are repeated incidents of EVMs switching votes in India similar to the one happened in West Virginia in 2008. In Tamilnadu, the switching happened in favour of DMK led alliance in number of places.Why did this not happen for AIADMK led alliance?

4) What are the information exchange protocals/standards being followed for the EVMs used in India?Whether EVMs are using the standards such as Election Markup Language(EML)?

5) I don’t think that the voting machine software has been made available for the people to analyse and improve as it is done in Australia under free software license.

May 22, 2009

Origins of the Srilankan Civil War

Filed under: Sri Lanka — thecandideye @ 3:00 AM
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The agony and suffering of Srilankan Tamils due to war have caused so much agitation and in some places violence in TN.Periyar Dravida Kazhagam even attacked the convoy of Army trucks in Coimbatore some days ago.See the video here. This act of PDK against Indian Army definitely needs to be punished.Whatever be the cause, this cannot be justifiied.Even the election compaigns had seen so many twists and turns from all the parties on the Srilankan Tamils.Jayalalitha, the AIADMK supremo also joined those people who demanded Independent Tamil Eelam in Srilanka.Each party tried to make use of this Sri Lankan Tamil issue to its advantage in the elections.

It is also worth to know about the Srilankan Civil War.Information in Wikipedia says that the government of D.S. Senanayake passed legislation stripping the estate Tamils of their citizenship in 1949, leaving them stateless.

The effect was to tilt the island’s political balance away from the Tamils. In 1948, at independence, the Tamils had 33% of the voting power in Parliament. Upon the disenfranchisement of the estate Tamils, however, this proportion dropped to 20%. The Sinhalese could and did obtain more than a 2/3 majority in Parliament, making it impossible for Tamils to exercise an effective opposition to Sinhalese policies affecting them. The main reason for the imbalance was that several multi-member constituencies elected a Tamil member of Parliament in a majority Sinhala electorate. The idea in having multi-member constituencies was to prevent domination of minorities by a future nationalist government.

The SLFP government led by Solomon Bandaranaike was sworn into office on a platform that of helping the growing population of unemployed youth who despite general educational achievement were disenfranchised by the ‘Sinhala Only’ language policy. A majority of civil servants under colonial rule were Tamil whose positions benefited from free English-medium missionary schools in the north and east of the island. When Sinhala became the official state language, many Tamil workers in government employment who were not fluent in Sinhala lost their jobs. The Tamil Federal Party led a group of Tamil volunteers and staged a sit-down satyagraha (peaceful protest). This protest was broken up by alleged hardline Sinhalese nationalist gangs.

Importing Tamil language films, books, magazines, journals, etc. from the cultural hub of Tamil NaduIndia was banned. Sri Lanka also banned groups such as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham and the Tamil Youth League. Culturally, Tamil Sri Lankans were cut off from Tamil Nadu. Foreign exchange for the long established practice of Tamil students going to India for university education was stopped. Equally, examinations for external degrees from the University of London were abolished. The government insisted this was a part of a general program of economic self-sufficiency, part of its socialist agenda, however most of the Tamil population did not accept nor believe this.

During the 1970s university admissions were standardized. This initiative took place to rectify disparities created in university enrollment during colonial rule.Under the British, English was the state language and consequently greatly benefited English speakers. However, the majority of the Sri Lankan populace lived outside urban areas and did not belong to the social elite, and therefore did not enjoy the benefits of English-medium education. The issue was compounded further by the fact that in northern and eastern regions of the island, where a largely Tamil speaking populace resided, students had access to English-medium education through missionary schools regardless of their socio-economic status. This created a situation where the large proportion of students enrolled in universities were English speaking Tamils, particularly in professional courses such as medicine and engineering.

The government policy of standardization in essence was an affirmative action scheme to assist geographically disadvantaged students to gain tertiary education. The benefits enjoyed by Sinhalese students also meant a significant fall in the number of Tamil students within the university population.At first, Tamil politicians pushed for a federal system through the Federal Party. This was met with suspicion and resistance from many Sinhalese.

In the 1960s, the government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike proceeded to nationalize most missionary schools in the country, secularizing them and changing the language of instruction from English to Sinhala only. After this, it became rare for Sinhalese and Tamil children to attend school together. Unable to speak Sinhalese, it became increasingly difficult for Tamil youth to gain access to civil service jobs or attend univerisities, and unemployment rose.

A mob went on rampage on the nights of May 31 to June 2 burning the market area of Jaffna, the office of the Tamil Newspaper, the home of the member of Parliament for Jaffna, the Jaffna Public Library and killing four people.The destruction of the Jaffna Public Library was the incident which appeared to cause the most distress to the people of Jaffna. The 95,000 volumes of the Public Library destroyed by the fire included numerous culturally important and irreplaceable manuscripts. Witnesses reported the presence of uniformed police officers in the mob and their involvement in the deaths of four individuals.

The concept of a separate nation, Tamil Eelam, was proposed by the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) in 1976 . TULF was a coalition of parties who went on to campaign in the 1977 elections for an independent state for Tamils in Sri Lanka. They won most of the Tamil seats, but the government later banned them from Parliament for advocating an independent state.

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