Lok Sabha Election 2024: The Logistics of Election Material

India is the world’s largest democracy and the Lok Sabha elections are a big event by any means.

Lok Sabha election involves almost every adult voter and a full-time and many months’ deep engagement for leaders, supporters, media, and many more. Many works behind the stage/camera remain less noticed. Logistics of goods managed by the government for election is an example.

Huge logistics arrangement is also made by different political parties/groups for campaigns eg. banners, posters, pamphlets, badges, flags, etc. to name a few. Any roadshow/rally requires a huge inventory, conveyance, food/ water, audio, vehicles, etc.. and everything is highly time-sensitive.

The government needs to manage a huge scale of logistics arrangements for inventory management. I admire the government’s capability created over the decades to get things moving in a structured flow even with relatively poor infrastructure and technology. Many examples deserve appreciation.

Massive Operation of Indian Railways, great network and connectivity of India Post, large number of branches managed by SBI, territory mapping by municipal corporations, e-commerce volume handled by IRCTC Train Ticketing, etc. Indian Army & BRO knows how to work in tough terrains.

A quick look at example items used in any poll booth that MUST reach on time:

Big bamboo ropes for barricading and small bottles of indelible ink were procured from Mysore. This tiny 10 mg vial is enough for 700 voters and there is a need of above 26 lakh vials. Many items are customized for specific booths like the printouts of the voter list, EVM, etc. All these are managed by government officials who are from different unrelated departments, for instance, school teachers.

Few examples of inventory required in most of the booths:

Customized EVM Sets, Indelible ink, Voter Slips, Electoral Rolls, Several types of Tags, Seals, Stamp Pads, Dozens of Forms, Multiple Sizes of Envelops, Sign Boards, EVM fencing boards, above 2 dozen stationary items ( Pens, pins, Duster, Tape, Match Box, Gum Paste, Wax, etc). Overall the SKU count exceeds 100 for every poll booth. NB …above 10 Lac booths.

All these SKUs move through all stages of Centralised/ De centralised procurement, storage, Packing, and distribution till the last mile. Many of these are customized, time and security-sensitive. Leaves hardly any room for an error or negligence. Any compromise in Security or inventory mismatch may lead to agitation and serious consequences.

  • 55 Lac EVM Sets in Above 10 Lacs Polling booth.
  • 97 Crore Voters supported by above 1.5 Cr Poll Officials.
  • Every Voter Slip is Unique. Wow .. 97 Crore…
  • 543 constituency covering all 806 districts.
  • Literally touches All Villages/ remote locations having population.
  • Tashigang (H.P.) booth is at 15,200 ft above sea level (the world’s highest poll booth)
  • Baneshwar Mahadev Temple in Gir Forest, Gujarat – 10 poll officials travel 25 km for a single priest resident.
  • The poll team travels 300 Miles in 4 days for the Mologaon Booth in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • An island in the Adamans having 9 voters, welcomes the poll team.
  • A village near Badrinath needs 8 km of tracking on Hills to reach.
  • Zanskar, Ladakh is probably the toughest terrain to reach for a poll booth.
  • Usage of horse-backs, elephants, and a helicopter – really multimodal.
  • Kamsing Village Riverline Poll station needs escort by divers – 69 km from Jowai in
  • Meghalaya is accessible by small boats only.
  • Sea container use in Islet as a temporary arrangement as Poll booth I Gujarat.
  • Lacs of old-age voters ( 85 years) opt for Door collection of ballot by poll officials.

Like an examination answer sheet, many items like EVM move under tight security to designated strong rooms and later to the counting stations. Most of the used/ unused items need to be returned back intact with count to the controlling offices.

Keywords of logistics in practice here include purchase, storage, inventory management, distribution to/fro, most spread/scattered/odd 1st and last mile, security, confidentiality, record management, long time safe storage, risk of Act of God and Risk of State Enemy, and what not.

A big salute to the system which manages it with precise perfection. No appreciation of logistics but one error can be a Headline in the next day’s newspapers. To sum up, as a citizen at least one contribution is expected from all, Please Vote….

This article has been written by Mr. Amit Kumar (VP Retail, Safexpress Pvt Ltd.). The views expressed in the article are his own and expressed in his individual capacity. The information is indicative and collected from different reliable sources.

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