Tuesday, February 23, 2010



[prohindu] A) There's a Trojan in the EVM!; B) A 'moth-eaten' India?

Krishan Bhatnagar Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 7:17 PM
Reply-To: prohindu-owner@yahoogroups.com

Here are two serious articles for circulation:

A) There’s a Trojan in the EVM!
A Surya Prakash
Pioneer, Feb 23, 2010

B) A ‘moth-eaten’ India?
Chandan Mitra
Pioneer, Feb 21, 2010


A) There’s a Trojan in the EVM!

A Surya Prakash
Pioneer, Feb 23, 2010

The debate on the integrity of the electoral process when electronic voting machines are used to cast votes got a fillip recently when a group of concerned citizens organised workshops in New Delhi and Chennai and invited some international experts who have played a part in the abolition of electronic voting in some countries of Europe and in a majority of the States in the US.

Among these experts was Mr Rop Gonggrijp, a computer hacker from the Netherlands who hacked a machine on a live television show and became instrumental in the banning of EVMs in his country; Mr Alex Halderman, professor of computer science at the University of Michigan and an authority on electronic voting security; and, Mr Till Jaeger, the attorney who argued against the use of EVMs before the German Federal Constitutional Court leading to the order banning of these machines in Germany. The Indian viewpoint on the vulnerability of EVMs was offered by Mr Hari Prasad, a noted ‘hactivist’ from Hyderabad, who first raised the red flag about the integrity of the EVM-based election process.

According to Mr Gonggrijp and Mr Halderman, EVMs can be tampered with either at the manufacturing stage or when they are stored in State capitals for deployment in elections or at the polling booths. They are convinced that Indian EVMs are no different from those that were deployed in the Netherlands, Germany or Ireland, before they were discarded in those countries. One of the ways to rig an election is to introduce a Trojan in the display section of the control unit. This chip would give ‘fixed’ results on the EVM screen. In other words, whatever the voters’ preference, the control unit would display numbers as per the hacker’s plan.

Mr Gonggrijp is a prominent campaigner for election transparency and verifiability, and his technical opinion appears to have clinched the issue against electronic voting in Germany as well. “When the vote count happens inside a machine and there is no way in which the result can be cross-checked, the election ceases to be transparent,” he says. The lack of transparency appears to be the Achilles heel of electronic voting. Nobody knows what goes on inside these machines. This is the point on which the German Constitutional Court has held the deployment of EVMs as un-constitutional. It says the Constitution emphasises the public nature of elections and requires all essential steps to be open to public scrutiny.

While all these experts are categorical in their rejection of electronic voting devices, EVMs enjoy a great deal of credibility and public trust in India. This is so because the campaign about the unreliability of these machines is yet to get off the ground. However, politicians of various hues appear to be wary of these machines and have even accused rivals of ‘manipulating’ them, albeit without a shred of evidence to establish mischief.

However, there are those like Mr Hari Prasad who have been demanding that the Election Commission offer opportunities for them to demonstrate the vulnerability of EVMs. The EC initially went along with the idea but developed cold feet and abruptly stopped one such exercise by Mr Prasad and his colleagues last September. Why did the EC back out?

Two other Indians who have plunged into this campaign are Mr Subramanian Swamy, whose petition against EVMs is currently before the Delhi High Court, and Mr GVL Narasimha Rao, election analyst and author of Democracy at Risk — Can We Trust Our Electronic Voting Machines?. This book outlines the story of EVMs in India, Europe and the US, and describes how the non-response of the EC to questions raised by Mr Gonggrijp and Mr Hari Prasad has contributed in no small measure to the growing concern in political parties about the reliability of voting machines.

According to Mr Rao, among those who have raised doubts about EVMs are Mr LK Advani, leader of the BJP, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister and Congress leader who attributed his party’s defeat in Odisha last year to “manipulation” of EVMs, Mr Prakash Karat, general secretary of the CPI(M), Mr Sharad Yadav, president of the JD(U), Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, president of the SP, Ms Mamata Bannerjee, president of Trinamool Congress, Mr Chandrababu Naidu, leader of the Telugu Desam, Ms Jayalalithaa, leader of the AIADMK, and leaders of the Pattali Makkal Katchi. One look at this list and you realise that there is a doubting Thomas everywhere — in every one of the three known national coalitions and in different regions.

Mr Karat has formally written to the EC. He has said there are several questions in regard to the reliability of EVMs. Among them are: Possibility of incorporating a Trojan in the chip; possibility of manipulation of the chip at the manufacturing stage; lack of EC control over the technical process; and lack of third party inspection. He has said the EC must control the manufacture of EVMs, allow third party inspection and randomly shift EVMs from State to State.

After talking to experts, Mr Rao lists eight situations in which EVMs can be rigged. The EC has sought to counter these arguments by saying that the Indian EVMs are standalone machines which are not part of any network. Therefore, any surmise based on operating system based EVMs would be completely erroneous.

These arguments have been countered by Mr Ulrich Wiesner, a physicist and software engineer, who was the petitioner before the Constitutional Court in Germany. In a statement that is part of the rejoinder affidavit filed by Mr Swamy in the Delhi High Court, Mr Wiesner has said that EVMs in the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland were also standalone machines with no connection to the Internet. He says, “It is common sense that someone who has sufficient access to open the machines and replace the software or hardware can implement virtually any functionality … that would not be spotted by tests.

The EC is a public body with a fat budget. If it is to command the confidence of all stake-holders in the democratic process, it must function in a transparent manner and answer the questions raised by these citizens and experts. The inflexible and non-transparent attitude of the commission is lending credence to the argument that possibly it has no answers or, worse, it has something to hide.



B) A ‘moth-eaten’ India?

Chandan Mitra
Pioneer, Feb 21, 2010

A small but influential section of public opinion in India has been pleading for “flexibility” in the Government’s approach to the Kashmir issue. Some important opinion makers have, in fact, gone on record to suggest that India will gain, not lose, stature if it gives up the Kashmir Valley in order to buy peace with Pakistan. At any rate, we will stop bleeding in the Valley and the world would look upon us as a mature, self-assured, emerging global power once the “thorn” of Kashmir is removed. They argue that none other than Jawaharlal Nehru internationalised the issue by scurrying to the UN in 1948 and pledged India to conduct a plebiscite in the State.

After losing nearly 1,00,000 lives in 22 years of insurgency, isn’t it high time that Delhi considered this “out-of-the-box” solution? And if that is not quite practical yet, what about joint sovereignty? Why can’t undivided J&K have a united quasi-Parliament thereby abolishing borders and giving equal say to India, Pakistan and the “people” of the State over its destiny? Washington, which loves such complex arrangements that facilitate a permanent foothold for itself in strategic regions, (erstwhile Yugoslavia being a case in point) has privately pushed this line for long. There may not be too many takers for such abject capitulation, but the fact that these views are increasingly aired in public appears to have put the Government on the defensive. Under pressure from Washington, New Delhi stonewalled the legitimate demand to call off the proposed Foreign Secretary-level talks despite last week’s blast in Pune.

This section of appeasement peddlers are, therefore, certain to overlook the menacing threat conveyed earlier this month by Jamaat-ud-Dawa (euphemism for Laskhar-e-Tayyeba) deputy chief Abdur Rahman Makki. Speaking at a Kashmir Day rally in Islamabad on February 5, the fire-spewing Makki not only let slip that Pune was on their radar, but also declared that jihad was also to be waged against the alleged denial of river water to Pakistan. This is a very significant addition to Pakistan’s agenda, doubly important because it is a “secular” inter-governmental matter rather than emotional or Islamist. The annexation of Kashmir on grounds of its denominational character is a declared jihadi objective. But Talibani/jihadi forces had so far refrained from dovetailing this issue with other disputed matters between India and Pakistan.

The specific reference to river waters suggests that despite pretending to have no truck with jihadis, the Pakistani Government is covertly in cahoots with them and could well have prompted the hardliners to raise the water issue to bring additional pressure on India. Further, it is also likely that the jihadis believe it is a matter of time before Pakistan’s civilian Government collapses and hard-line groups seize power in Islamabad with the support of ISI. They have thus initiated the process of understanding matters of statecraft so they can play an effective role in a future Government — a chilling prospect indeed.

This brings us to the fundamental question: Will Pakistan’s blood-feud with India ever end? Will Islamabad be satisfied even if, for argument’s sake, Delhi agrees to part with the Kashmir Valley? All these years, Pakistani leaders across political hues kept harping primarily on Kashmir, former President Musharraf candidly declaring it to be the core issue. After resisting this classification for some years, India succumbed, saying it was ready to discuss Kashmir if Pakistan addressed our concern over cross-border terror.

At Sharm-al-Sheikh, India bent down further agreeing, first, to delink terror from talks acknowledging Pakistan too was a victim and, second, to bring Balochistan on the table. Events of the last few months culminating in Delhi’s latest genuflection clearly establish that the Sharm-al-Sheikh joint declaration was not a case of “bad drafting” as the Government wanted us to believe. It was, in fact, a formal statement of India’s revised position which also amounted to quietly admitting Pakistan’s charge that we have fomented disaffection in Balochistan.

A pattern is now rapidly falling into place. First Pakistan forced us to agree, howsoever reluctantly, that Kashmir was indeed the “core issue”. Second, it got us embroiled in the problem of Balochistan whose mere mention in an official document was sufficient for Islamabad to claim victory.

And finally, by getting jihadis to talk about the water dispute, Pakistan has ensured that the arena of its conflict with India continues to widen. As it gets its way on one, it pushes forward a second and then a third. Shrewdly assessing the Obama Administration’s burning desire to exit Afghanistan soon, Pakistan is cunningly seeking to get more and more pressure mounted by Washington on Delhi.

Meanwhile, India’s humiliation at the London conference and the conclave in Turkey confirms Islamabad’s resounding diplomatic success in excluding India from the core group on Afghanistan. Having convinced the West that it is as much a victim of jihadi terror as India, Pakistan has also managed to put India on the back-foot over Kashmir. The US is breathing down our neck to concede “something” on J&K without insisting on visible progress in clamping down on the masterminds of 26/11. It is a measure of Delhi’s pathetic helplessness that JuD/LeT supremo Hafiz Sayed, his No 2 Rahman Makki and all luminaries of the Rogue’s Gallery of terror cock a snook at us and hold public rallies pledging a bloodbath for Kashmir’s “liberation”, while India meekly pleads for immediate resumption of talks with a triumphant Pakistan!

As far as the issue of water is concerned, there is frankly nothing to discuss. The Baglihar Dam on the Chenub was referred to the World Bank by Pakistan and the independent arbitrator gave a go-ahead to India with a few suggested modifications. Under the Indus Water Treaty of 1955, India is entitled to the use of the waters of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej while Pakistan has legitimate rights over Jhelum and Chenub, but the usage is subject to certain conditions. India has adhered to these in constructing the Baglihar Dam, which will generate 450 MW of electricity for power-starved Kashmir, but the flow of Chenub waters to Pakistan will not be blocked.

The jihadi threat to forcibly extract more water from India clearly flies in the face of international agreements and counter-guarantees. In any case, jihadis probably neither comprehend the details of such binding agreements, nor do they care for international opinion. The opening of the water front by jihadi groups is aimed solely at aggravating alleged Pakistani angst against India, thereby legitimising their ongoing campaign of terror. Makki’s bloodthirsty diatribe, saying that “denial” of water justifies targeting cities like Delhi, Kanpur and Pune, that is, places way beyond Jammu and Kashmir, gives the game away.

Who knows what more will be added to the jihadi wish-list in the years to come? Hyderabad, Junagadh, Assam, Kolkata? Jinnah complained in 1947 that he had been tricked into accepting a “moth-eaten Pakistan”. The jihadis are carrying forward the promised 1,000-year war to reduce India to a moth-eaten entity, within and without.


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