Allegedly Opinion

Are you EVM-positive?

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You might be stunned to hear this, but most Indians have no idea what to do if they find an EVM in their car, their bedroom, or in their head, for that matter. According to a study conducted by the Phew Research Center (PRC) in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Collapsing Societies (CSCS), 7.5 out of 10 Indians don’t know what ‘EVM’ stands for, let alone the protocol for managing EVMs that flee the polling booth and infect people’s cars, homes, and hearts.

For instance, one gentleman from Valasaravakkam, quoted in the PRC-CSCS study, believed that the full form of EVM was ‘Extra Vote Machan’, which is patently incorrect. Nor does EVM stand for ‘Excellent for Vote Manipulation’, as some people on social media have been saying. So what exactly is an EVM? What does it do? And most important, can it be relied upon to safeguard the glorious Indian democracy from the efforts of Opposition parties to win elections? The answer to all these questions is ‘Yes!’ But sadly, these are the wrong questions. They won’t come in the Board exam.

The real question, as usual buried by mainstream media, is why are EVMs spreading so much faster than the coronavirus? According to reports in alternative news sites, the most affected States right now are Assam and West Bengal. In Assam, for instance, one of these super-spreader EVMs went to the extent of hijacking a car linked to a BJP leader, causing a repoll and the suspension of four polling officials.

Sceptics explain away this dangerous proliferation of EVMs by arguing that elections make EVMs go viral. But that doesn’t explain how EVMs, which are supposed to exist only inside polling booths or other EC-authorised premises or transport vehicles, are turning up at odd places even in States that are not in the middle of elections. Take me, for instance. I live in Delhi. There are no assembly elections going on in Delhi right now. Not that it would matter since the Delhi government, by definition, is not a body of individuals voted to power by the people of Delhi but an unelected bureaucrat — exactly like in the good old days under the East India Company, when ordinary people did not have to travel all the way to a polling booth only to find that the unhackable EVM was sitting in their own imagination all along, right beside free and fair elections.

Asymptomatic car

In my case, when I took my car for an RT-PCR-EVM test, I was certain it would test negative. But to my shock, it tested positive for EVMs. It was, however, asymptomatic — there was no sign of any actual EVM, either on the seats or in the boot. Nonetheless, given how fast these EVMs spread, as a responsible citizen, I put out a social media post announcing that my car had tested positive for EVM. I requested all car owners who may have used the same roads as me on the same days I did to have their vehicles tested for EVM and quarantine them in any case, if they wished to avoid what I had to undergo.

Though I had immediately put my car in quarantine, last Tuesday our kitchen tested positive for EVM. We realised something was wrong when the cake my wife baked came out lotus-shaped even though the mould was heart-shaped. We tried different shapes of cake moulds — oval, square, hexagon, pentagon, dodecahedron — but every time we took the cake out of the oven, it was lotus-shaped.

I then called the oven manufacturer’s helpline. They sent over a technician, who took one look at the oven, then at our lotus-shaped cakes, and shook his head dolefully. After taking our permission to inspect the house, he went from room to room, checking out the ceiling, looking behind doors, under the bed, beneath the carpet.

The real patient

“What’s going on?” I said. “You are only supposed to fix the oven.”

“I’m sorry,” the technician said. “Not only is your oven infected, your entire house is EVM-positive.”

“What!” I screamed. “How could that be? My EVM-positive car is standing 20 metres away, and that too parked half-illegally, in Mr. Sambasivam’s designated slot.”

“It’s not your car,” said the junior technician. “It’s you.”

“Excuse me?”

“You believe in EVMs, don’t you?” he asked.

“Well, I do, but everyone believes in EVMs!”

“I know,” he said, “That’s why it’s called a pandemic.”

“But it’s not my belief alone,” I said. “It’s an objective fact that EVMs are unhackable, tamper-proof, and make elections faster, efficient, and immune to booth-capturing, rigging or any other form of electoral fraud.”

“That’s a very, very pat response,” he said. “Typical of a patient who is EVM-positive.”

“So what happens to me now?”

“You might come down with a fatal case of electoral autocracy.”

“Oh my god! Is there no vaccine for this?”

“There is,” he said. “It is called ballot paper. But unfortunately, in India, vaccine hesitancy is extremely high.”

G. Sampath, author of this satire, is Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

sampath.g@thehindu.co.in

This column is a satirical take on life and society
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Printable version | May 11, 2021 7:44:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/satire-are-you-evm-positive/article34279103.ece

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