A 13-year-old boy from a Maoist violence-affected district of Chhattisgarh has won the prestigious APJ Abdul Kalam Ignite Award for suggesting an idea for a software to instantaneously register a vote given through an electronic voting machine with the authorities.
Roshan Sori, a Class 6th student of Sukma district, came upon the idea after reading in the newspapers that Maoist rebels often loot EVMs on the way to counting centres, causing long delays and spiraling costs in the poll process. His parents are small farmers.
“I am very happy that my idea was selected for this award. I feel that people who come from far-flung areas to vote will not have to suffer because of EVM loot and re-polling,” said Sori.
Sori was called by district collector of Sukma last Wednesday and awarded. He studies in Boya Residential School and is resident of Burdi village.
“This is a really good and innovative idea and should be worked upon seriously. It is true that Maoists loot EVMs and then repolling is done. A Class six student giving such ideas for the strengthening of democracy is a great attempt,” said SR Bandhe, deputy secretary of the Chhattisgarh Election Commission.
Sori is one of three students from the state among this year’s 28 awardees. The other two students of Chhattisgarh are Himanshu Rateria of Janjgir Chanpa district and Indu Manikpur of Dantewada (Bastar region). Manikpuri’s idea was to develop a septic tank pressure record scale while Rateria wanted to create a medical alarm on TV for senior citizens.
“There are scientists and experts in the selection committee. They work on the selected ideas and try to replicate and develop. These ideas are based on their geographical areas, circumstances,” said M Sudhish, state nodal officer of the national innovative foundation.
He said the royalty of the equipment or developed model is given to the awardee and the patent registered in his name.
“I think that this idea will be implemented because there are a lot of incidents of EVM loot in every election and this idea could be very effective,” said Sudhish.
Maoists looting EVMs are a common practice across the state. In last assembly elections of 2013, four EVMs were looted in Kanker district. In the 2008 elections, 13 EVMs were taken away by Maoists.
“Roshan got this idea after he saw how booth officers in his village faced challenges during elections. And how many were killed,” said Ashish Shrivastava who proposed the idea of Sukma children in IGNITE Awards 2016 and running a organization for tribal kids –Shiksarth.
Shrivastva believes that children despite of their geographical constraints are full of ideas and equally competent to their counterparts in urban areas.