Scheduling and conducting India’s General elections efficiently — some lessons from Operations Research..

What an amazing paper from Bodhibrata Nag of IIM Calcutta. He uses optimization techniques in Operations Research to help make  India’s General elections more efficient.

He points to how Centre’s police forces are required to support the State polie forces to conduct the general elections:

The Constitution of India mandates that maintenance of law and order is the responsibility of  the States. Thus while all States maintain police forces totaling about 1.5 million, the average  police-population ratio for all the States is only 133 police per 100,000 (National Crime  Records Bureau 2010) in comparison with average international ratio of 342 (Stefan Harrendorf 2010). The Central Government therefore maintains Central Police Forces at  various bases spread across the country, to complement the State police, whenever and wherever required.

The Central Government therefore maintains Central Police Forces to  complement the State police, whenever and wherever required. The Central Police Forces  numbering about 800 thousand comprise: (i) Central Reserve Police Force having strength of  about 260 thousand (ii) Border Security Force having strength of about 210 thousand (iii)  Central Industrial Security Force having strength of about 110 thousand (iv) Railway  Protection Force having strength of about 69 thousand (v) Assam Rifles having strength of  about 65 thousand (vi) Sashastra Seema Bal having strength of about 55 thousand and (vii)  Indo-Tibetan Border Police having strength of about 57 thousand(Bureau of Police Research  & Development).

However, since it is a huge exercise

However, the number of Central Police Forces that can be spared for deployment during the  elections are not enough for manning all the polling stations of the 543 constituencies. Thus  General Elections are spread over different days with each day covering a few states only,  such that the required number of Central Police Forces can be deployed across all polling  stations of all constituencies of those states. The days of elections are spread a few days apart  to allow re-deployment of paramilitary personnel and allow them to be familiar with their  constituencies. However, elections for all constituencies in a particular state are held on the  same day. For example, the 2009 General Election was conducted in five stages on 16 April,  23 April, 30 April, 7 May and 13 May.  

The movement of Central Police Forces from their bases to the polling stations in the  different stages and their subsequent return to the bases is a gigantic exercise, requiring  coordination between different agencies such as Central Police Forces’ operations, Election Commission and State Chief Electoral Officers, District Election Office rs, Railways, airlines and the Indian Air Force. In the 2009 General Election, 119 special trains, 65 sorties by  Indian Air Force transport aircraft, 600 sorties by Indian Air Force helicopters and Air India chartered flights were used for the cross-country movement of Central Police Forces(Election  Commission of India 2009)

Hmmm..Superb all this..

So the author proposes a research methodology which minimses the distance travelled by the central police forces and conducts elections in mimimal time.

However the process of scheduling the elections and movement of police personnel is done manually by the Election Commission. This paper proposes an operations research  methodology to enable conduct of the General Elections for all the 543 parliamentary  constituencies in the minimum possible time, with the available Central Police Forces and  with minimum police movement. The author is not aware of any previous published work of  this nature.

The model says:

The total number of polling stations of all the 543 parliamentary constituencies, spread over 36 states is 833,701. If 4 Central Police Forces personnel are deployed at each polling station, the total requirement of police personnel is 3.3 million. Since, only about a  quarter of Central Police Forces can be spared for deployment during the elections it is not possible to conduct elections for all the 543 parliamentary constituencies on a single day. Thus elections will have to be  conducted in phases, with Central Police Forces personnel movement between constituencies in the phase intervals. The proposed method assumes that the Central Police Forces personnel movement will be entirely by air, except the ‘last mile’ movement to and from the constituencies.

While conducting the elections in phases, the following two principles are observed by the Election Commission to the extent possible: (a) Elections for all constituencies in a State are  held on a single day (b) As far as preferable, elections for contiguous States must be held  simultaneously. The proposed method attempts to incorporate both the principles in the model.

He divides the states into three cohorts based on above constraints:

Solving the model, we obtain that election requires to be conducted over the following three phases, each comprising of the following cohorts:

Cohort 1 comprises the 8 States of Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland,  Orissa, Tripura, West Bengal and Chattisgarh which have 154 constituencies &  238,308 polling stations

Cohort 2 comprises the 9 States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Manipur, Punjab,  UttarPradesh, Jharkhand, Dadra&Nagar Haveli and Daman&Diu which have 195  constituencies & 299,555 polling stations

 Cohort 3 comprises the 18 States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Haryana,  Himachal Pradesh, Jammu&Kashmir, Maharashtra, Meghalaya,Mizoram, Rajasthan,  Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttarkhand, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Delhi, Lakshwadeep and Puducherry which have 194 constituencies & 295,838 polling  stations

Next bit is to understand the sequence of cohorts. Should it be One followed by Two and then Three or some other combination?  Further constraints of mimimum miles of Central police leads to the following:

Solving the model, we obtain a solution of 1.847 million men-miles for combination I. The model takes about 25 seconds for processing and solution using IBM ILOG CPLEX 12.1.0  on a 1.6 GHz computer. Solution of similar models gives 1.787 million men-miles for combination II and 1.712 million men-miles for combination III. Combination III is thus the  optimal schedule, wherein the first phase elections are held in the 9 States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Manipur, Punjab, UttarPradesh, Jharkhand, Dadra&Nagar Haveli and  Daman&Diu; followed by second phase elections being held in the 8 States of Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Orissa, Tripura, West Bengal and Chattisgarh; followed  by third phase elections being held in the 18 States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat,  Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu&Kashmir, Maharashtra, Meghalaya,Mizoram,  Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttarkhand, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh,  Delhi, Lakshwadeep and Puducherry.

Fascinating to say the least. Haven’t read anything like this…

Further the author says the technique can be used for any such planning:

In this paper, a two-stage methodology is proposed and demonstrated for obtaining the optimal scheduling and logistics planning of the Indian General Elections. The method can  be utilized for scheduling and planning any nation-wide event requiring scarce resources.

Just amazed to read the paper and its scope. wondering the views of Election Commission on this…

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One Response to “Scheduling and conducting India’s General elections efficiently — some lessons from Operations Research..”

  1. daripada Says:

    General election always become the hottest issue in india

    regards,
    Olahraga Untuk Mengecilkan Perut

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