EVM Debate: Musk Is Factually Incorrect, Everything Can’t Be Hacked, Says Rajeev Chandrasekhar

New Delhi: A day after his debate with Tesla chief Elon Musk on X, former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Monday shared an analogy of a calculator and toaster to prove his point why Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in India cannot be hacked.

Chandrasekhar said an Indian EVM has very limited intelligence device to be hacked and so Musk’s claim that anything can be hacked is wrong.

“While I respect Elon Musk and what he has achieved, I think he is factually incorrect in saying that anything can be hacked. A calculator or a toaster cannot be hacked. Therefore, there is a limit in terms of where this paradigm of hacking can extend,” he said.

Chandrasekhar said during an interview with ANI that Indian EVMs are not connected to Wifi, 5G or internet, and the system and the product have been designed in such a way that they cannot be reprogrammed anywhere else.

The former Union minister said Musk’s statement was far too sweeping.

“I am not an Elon Musk. But I also have a certain understanding of technology to claim that there cannot be any secure electronic or digital product in the world. It is just the same as one can say that every Tesla car can be hacked. I think that is like stretching the limits of what people understand of technology today.”

This comes at a time when a political row has erupted in Maharashtra over allegations that a relative of Mumbai North West MP and Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena leader Ravindra Waikar used a mobile phone to generate an OTP (one-time password) that unlocked an EVM during counting on June 4.

Other leaders have also responded to the EVM debate.

“Elon Musk is a big name in AI & robotics…If such a person makes a comment on EVM which creates confusion about EVM, it is a big thing. The comment or statement should not be taken lightly. The EC & the government should investigate it and the investigation should be transparent…When confusion increases, everyone’s trust in democracy reduces,” NCP-SCP leader Rohit Pawar said.

Shiv Sena (Shinde) MP Milind Deora, on the other hand, said Musk should not meddle in India’s democracy. “I’m a fan of Elon Musk as an innovator, but not of Silicon Valley’s Big Tech billionaires meddling in India’s democracy. Still, I asked ChatGPT, co-founded & funded by Musk, about EVMs. Here’s their take,” he wrote on X and also posted ChatGPT’s response.

“Do India’s EVMs use a SIM card?” he asked.

Replying to Deora’s question, the chatbot answered: “No, India’s Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) do not use SIM cards. They are standalone devices that are not connected to any network, making them immune to remote hacking. The design and function ability of EVMs ensure that they operate independently without the need for any external connectivity, which enhances their security and reliability in conducting elections.”

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