Excavate a mountain to find a mouse

Today’s times of India has a story titled “We can make a mark.” The internet version does not include the following information  in a box on hard copy:

 “It has taken more than 200,000 man hours of on-the-ground effort by over 400 community volunteers called Area Voter Mitras and a dedicated 25-member Janaagraha team working in close partnership with the Election Commission and BBMP staff to update and clean up the Shantinagar voters list.”

Considering 40 hours a week and 48 work-weeks per year, 2,00,000 person-hour is about 105 person-years. Add 25 member dedicated working on the task for 3 years. This is a whopping 180 person year effort. If this is spread over 3 years, we have a work force of 60 people working full time on the task, in addition to the work done by BBMP and CEO staff.

The article estimates that 20,000 records would require editing in a constituency with 2,00,000 voters. For Shantinagar with 1,54,000 records, this would translate to 15,400 records in a year. If we require 60 people working full time to make changes to 15,400 records with 7 simple fields, I leave it to the reader to calculate the efforts spent in updating one voter record.

Of the 1,93,431 voters from the constituency, 28,756 were deleted in July with reason as ‘shifted residence.’ Janaagraha has got 10,000 of them re-instated. Despite them working closely with CEO and BBMP, such a mass illegal deletion occurred. Even after restoring 10,000 voters, are we sure that all the voters illegally deleted are restored?

CEO and BBMP repeatedly stated that dead voters do not move out of the electoral rolls. In July, there were only 454 voters deleted from Shantinagar constituency with reason as death.

General overview does not indicate higher quality in Shantinagar electoral rolls. They have :

    • 1,087  blank voter IDs
    • 48 voter IDs are re-allocated, a serious error allowed by software and committed by inefficient data entry operators
    • 46 duplicated voter IDs and several other easily identifiable duplicate entries
    • 15 voters less than 18 years
    • 7 voters older than 120 years – two of them aged 242 and 357 years
    • 540 male voters whose relatives are their husbands
    • 1,333 houses with more than 10 voters, and a single house with 265 voters
    • 217 parents who are less than 13 years older than their children
    • 277 bigamies
    • 27 cases where the voter name and relative name are exactly same
    • records with no voter name, one character names, etc.

I am certain that with proper application of technology we can do better with far less efforts.

खोदा पहाड, निकला चूहा (Khoda Pahad, Nikla Chooha) – I excavated a mountain and out came a mouse – is a Hindi proverb. Have we put in mammoth efforts to leave the electoral rolls with absurd errors and system unresponsive? Are we assuming that because we have spent so much efforts, we have done a great job?


About pgbhat

A retired Naval Officer and an educationist. Has experience with software industry. A guest faculty at different institutes and a corporate trainer with software development companies.
This entry was posted in eGovernance, Social Issue. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Excavate a mountain to find a mouse

  1. kartik says:

    Agreed. Sometimes people are too scared of technology to consider it. And sometimes decision-makers are too indifferent to problems to consider solving them.


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