The 2014 Indian Elections

The 2014 Indian Elections

L-R: Rajiv Lall, Executive Chairman, IDFC and Founding Chairman, Lok Foundation, Devesh Kapur, Director, Center for Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania,T.N. Ninan, Chairman, Business Standard Ltd., Meera Sanyal, South Mumbai Candidate for the Aam Aadmi Party and Milan Vaishnav, Associate, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

MUMBAI, March 14, 2014 - Asia society in partnership with the Lok foundation ,organized its fourth event in the series of discussions around the Indian elections to provide a nuanced and balanced platform for dialogue around the world’s largest election. 

The discussion was set off by Milan Vaishnav delivering a short presentation, on the patterns among voters in India. The presentation consisted of a consumer pyramid survey, with analysis of pre and post election changes in voting patterns. It also enhanced the discussion by providing a prelude and debunking the five most common myths about the Indian voter. The five myths outlined as, increasing prominence of regional parties, role of economics in politics, frustration among voters with dynasties, criminalization of politics, and role of caste identity in voting. The survey revealed that for voters in India the important issues that would help in determining their decision were economic. The myth that Muslim voters have distinct patterns relating to caste identity, was debunked. The emphasis was on the fact that voters in India are strategic actors who are very pragmatic.

Devesh Kapur pointed out that economy at large is a deep concern among voters and also touched upon the criminalization of politics. Meera Sanyal described the anti-political establishment wave going around in the world and put the issue of gender into perspective and related it to the voting pattern, while basic amenities such as access to water and sanitation taking precedence. T.N Ninan lay emphasis on the growth of regional parties , post 1989 and the lack of momentum post this phase. Rajiv Lall discussed the apparent contradictions in the voting patterns with electoral concerns of voters starkly different from the issues in actually casting their vote.  He stated that the middle classes were more volatile in their choices of who they supported and felt that Indian voting had been characterized by anti-incumbency, which has been its falling. He stated," There are less sharper differences between the rural and the urban voting patterns and there is change in the occupational structures in rural India."

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For more information on the programme, please watch the programme highlights included below.

Reported by Vishakha Wadhwani, Intern, Asia Society

March 15, 2014
by Radha Venkatraman