In India, show the finger after voting, get cheaper gas and food

NEW DELHI Thu Apr 10, 2014 3:02pm IST

A woman shows her ink-marked finger after casting her vote at Makum village in Tinsukia district of Assam April 7, 2014. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

A woman shows her ink-marked finger after casting her vote at Makum village in Tinsukia district of Assam April 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Showing the finger can get you a punch in the face in many parts of the world. In India, during this general election at least, it can earn discounts at gas stations, restaurants, spas, stores and hospitals after voting.

India's polling stations mark each voter's left forefinger with an indelible dot of a silver nitrate solution after casting the ballot to guard against voter fraud.

In a move to increase political involvement, Young Indians, a group linked to Confederation of Indian Industry trade association, launched the "Show the ink, See prices sink" campaign, which gives discounts and other incentives to people who vote.

"Among youngsters it's become a cool thing to flaunt their fingers after they've cast their vote," said D.N.V. Kumara Guru, national chairman of the group, saying more than 100 businesses had signed up for the campaign.

"There is a lot of momentum across the country."

At the last general election, only about 58 percent of the electorate voted, with many urban Indians in particular apathetic.

During this year's election, which began on Monday and runs until May 12, 815 million voters will be eligible to participate. Besides the discounts, the Election Commission has issued newspaper advertisements using celebrities like Virat Kohli, the cricket star heartthrob of millions, to exhort people to vote.

In the capital, New Delhi, which went to the polls on Thursday, people who show the marked forefinger can get a discount of about 0.7 percent on petrol at any one of 67 pumps in and around the city during the day.

"It's our moral and social duty to motivate citizens of India. After a long freedom struggle we got this right," said Ajay Bansal, general secretary of the Federation of All India Petroleum Traders.

Gas station owners wanted to share the cost of travelling to a poll booth by offering this measure, Bansal said. They also wanted to encourage youngsters because in India people can start to vote at the same age they can begin to drive a car.

In the tech capital of Bangalore, the Sakra World Hospital is offering a 10 percent discount on outpatient services such as health check-ups and consultations between April 18 and May 1 to people with an ink-marked finger.

Virgin Atlantic Airways VA.UL, known for its unusual promotions, announced voters have the chance to win cabin upgrades, lounge access and goodie hampers in a lucky draw.

But there's a catch - they need to be travelling a bit farther than the distance to the polling station, they have to be booked on a Delhi-London flight with the British airline.

(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

FILED UNDER:

Reuters Showcase

Land Ordinance

Land Ordinance

Modi says willing to make changes in land decree  Full Article 

Sahara Woes

Sahara Woes

SEBI cancels Sahara's portfolio management licence  Full Article 

Gold Demand

Gold Demand

India gold demand muted, eyes cut in import duty  Full Article 

Coffee's Hot

Coffee's Hot

IPO could value Cafe Coffee Day at $1 billion  Full Article 

Sahara Salaries

Sahara Salaries

Some staff say Sahara has not paid salaries for months   Full Article 

DLF Fined

DLF Fined

DLF says reviewing $8.4 million SEBI penalty  Full Article 

Rail Budget

Rail Budget

Breakingviews - India goes back to future with $137 bln rail push  Full Article | Full Coverage 

Clean Energy

Clean Energy

India says clean energy a $160 billion opportunity over five years  Full Article 

Global Markets

Global Markets

Global investors lift exposure to stocks as major markets touch record highs  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage