Indelible Ink What’s The Mystery Behind its Stubborn Mark

Indelible Ink: What’s The Mystery Behind its Stubborn Mark?



  • Historical context of the ink’s usage in Indian elections since 1962.

  • Which company has been the sole supplier of indelible ink in India since 1962?

  • Why is the ink used during elections?

As the capital of India gears up to vote for the next Prime Minister, there’s a familiar buzz in the air. Election season brings out the selfie enthusiasts who proudly pose with inked finger on Instagram and WhatsApp stories. But have you ever wondered about the story behind that indelible ink? 

Why does it stick around for so long and refuse to wash off? 

Voting in Phase 6 for Lok Sabha Elections will happen on 25th May. The symbol of Indian Polls is visible everywhere- a left hand with only its index finger extended, marked by a purple-black indelible ink. 

Who makes this ink? When & Why did it start?

The Mystery Behind The Indelible Ink

The blue indelible ink is produced in Mysore, Karnataka. The company Mysore Paints & Varnishes, has been India’s sole supplier of indelible election ink since 1962. Moreover, the company informs DD News that around 26.5 lakh phials or small bottles will be made this election cycle. Furthermore, A total of 700 voters can be indelibly marked using a 10 ml bottle.

Additionally, every year the number of voters rises with every election, and the demand for the indelible also goes up. “The order we received from the EC for the general elections is the largest order so far. We have delivered most vials to the northeast and Jammu & Kashmir. We are now producing the ink for Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana said MVPL managing director K Mohammed Irfan.

Furthermore, the company is also exploring the option of creating marker pens to replace the glass vials containing the ink. Even though this is still in the development stages.

But it didn’t start with indelible ink. In 1937, the then Maharaja of Mysore province, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, founded the company under the name Mysore Lac & Paint Works. Its first product was lacquer sourced from the sprawling forests near Mysuru and Nagerhole.

Also Read: Can Marketers Take Notes From Elections Playbook?

What makes the ink indelible?

The ink contains a chemical compound silver nitrate, which causes a purplish stain when it comes into contact with skin and gets exposed to sunlight. It stays resistant to soap, liquids, home cleansing, and detergents for up to 72 hours.

Why is the ink used during elections?

Indelible Ink

The ink prevents a person from casting more than one vote. It has a long history of use in Indian elections. Moreover, it now travels to other parts of the world for use in their elections too. Today, the company ensures the smooth running of elections in 30 countries including India, Thailand, Singapore, Nigeria, Malaysia, Cambodia and South Africa.

During India’s inaugural general elections in 1951 and 1952, officials embraced the use of indelible ink to prevent fraud and ensure fairness. The decision came from the humungous challenge of a population lacking birth records or identification and the widespread movement of refugees. Moreover, all voters irrespective of their background had to stand in the same line to get their fingers marked. 

Who makes the indelible ink for Indian elections?

The indelible ink was first manufactured at the ECI’s request by the government’s Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). Then the research work on formulating the ink began in the 1950s in the erstwhile chemical division. National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), New Delhi patented it later

Subsequently, Mysore Paints & Varnish Ltd. has been licensed to manufacture the ink and has been in the business since 1962. Currently, each phial is sold at a fixed rate of Rs 174. However, the procedure to apply the ink differs according to the country. For example, in Cambodia and Maldives, voters need to dip their finger into the ink. In Burkina Faso, the ink is applied with a brush, and nozzles are used in Turkey.

Bottom Line

The ink that stays on your finger after voting is important for fair elections. It’s made in Mysore and used all over the world to make sure people can’t vote more than once. So next time you proudly show off your ink-stained finger, remember the journey of this tiny mark.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who manufactures indelible ink?

Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited is authorised to produce indelible ink. It is used in elections to prevent people from voting multiple times.

Is silver nitrate harmful to the skin?

Silver nitrate when used topically has been noted to cause irritation and redness.

Which solution is used in voter ink?

Industry-standard electoral ink contains 10%, 14%, or 18% silver nitrate solution, depending on when the mark must be visible.

Who is eligible to vote according to the constitution of India? 

Every citizen at or above the age of 18 years is eligible to vote.

Must Read:


Leave a Reply