Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited is a company located in the city of Mysore, India. It is the only company in India authorised to produce indelible ink, which is used in elections to prevent people from voting multiple times. The company is owned and operated by the Government of Karnataka under the chairmanship of Mr. Anantha, Ex-Mayor Mysore City Corporation.
The company was started as the Mysore Lac and Paints Limited by the Maharaja of Mysore, Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar in 1937 for manufacturing paints and related products. It became a public sector company when India gained independence in 1947. In 1962, it was selected to manufacture indelible ink, which was first used in the third general election in India. The manufacturing process is a closely guarded secret and is based on a chemical formula devised by the National Physical Laboratory of India.
Indelible black ink was initially manufactured by the company to meet the needs of the Indian elections. It is usually applied on the finger nail of the voter and leaves an indelible mark which is not easy to erase. The mark stays on the finger for nearly 20 days. This prevents the voter from exercising the franchise again and hence checks fraud. One of the major customers for this ink is the Election Commission of India which places orders based on the number of voters involved in the election. The ink is then supplied to the Chief Electoral Officers who further distribute it to individual voting centres. The indelible ink is supplied in vials having volumes of 5 ml, 7.5 ml, 20 ml, 50 ml and 80 ml. A 5 ml vial can be used for about 300 voters. It is estimated that around 300 million people have had this ink applied over a period of 45 years. The ink is also exported to countries like Thailand, Singapore, Nigeria, Malaysia and South Africa. It has also started manufacturing marker pens containing this ink for easy usage and this has also been used in elections held in Afghanistan. The company also manufactured indelible ink for Cambodian elections in 2008 and 2012.