Key Facts About Indelible Ink

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As the Lok Sabha elections are round the corner, the classic symbol of Indian polls is visible everywhere – a left hand with only its index finger extended, marked by a purple-black indelible ink.

About Indelible ink

  • It contains silver nitrate. It is a colourless compound which becomes visible when exposed to ultraviolet light, including sunlight.
  • The higher silver nitrate’s concentration, the higher the ink’s quality.
  • For up to 72 hours after application it can remain resistant to soap, liquids, home-cleansing, detergents, etc.
  • This water-based ink also contains a solvent like alcohol to allow its faster drying… The precise protocol for making this ink including its chemical composition and the quantity of each constituent is, however, not known to many people.”
  • The indelible ink was first manufactured at the Election Commission of India’s request by the government’s Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).
  • Mysore Paints & Varnish Ltd. has been licensed to manufacture the ink and has been in the business since 1962.
  • It is exported to more than 25 countries that include Canada, Ghana, Nigeria, Mongolia, Malaysia, Nepal, South Africa and the Maldives
  • The Representation of the People Act (RoPA) of 1951mentions the ink.
    • Section 61 states that rules may be made under the Act “for the marking with indelible ink of the thumb or any other finger of every elector who applies for a ballot paper or ballot papers for the purpose of voting at a polling station before delivery of such paper or papers to him.”

Q1: What is Silver nitrate?

It is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula AgNO3. In its solid form, silver nitrate is coordinated in a trigonal planar arrangement. It is often used as a precursor to other silver-containing compounds.

Source: The story of indelible ink, a lasting symbol of Indian elections, and who makes it