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India’s King of Crude Troubled by Oil Investments in Africa

Luke+PateyRead the latest India in Transition (IiT) publication “India’s King of Crude Troubled by Oil Investments in Africa” written by Luke Patey, the author of The New Kings of Crude: China, India, and the Global Struggle for Oil in Sudan and South SudanHe writes about India’s international oil projects through the nationalized ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL) in Sudan and how they have been hurt by instability in the region as South Sudan separated in July 2011. He argues that India’s “unorthodox approach and tactic of investing in oil producing countries with little western competition ended up working” until the situation began to collapse in the region. He further explains the Indian government’s failure to invest in diplomatic engagement with the region:

“New Delhi has been helpful in assisting OVL and other Indian national oil companies enter new markets overseas, but what remains lacking is the Indian government’s ability to ensure the sustainability of such investments in the face of political upheaval. India needs to actively shape incentives and support stability in overseas countries where its companies are invested prior to the outbreak of conflict or political change.”

 Read the full analysis here. 

Contact or follow Luke at @LukePatey

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TOI Series Article 4

Corruption and Access to BenefitsRead the final installment of the Sunday Times of India four part series “The Indian Lok FoundationVoter: Inside Out” this time written by Dr. Rajiv Lall, the founder of the Lok Foundation. In the article, Lall reconciles conflicting findings from the Lok Surveys about the importance of caste and economics to the election. He argues that the Lok Surveys reveal an Indian voter  that is “very pragmatic… looking to make an electoral choice in pursuit of his or her economic interests by relying on candidates and parties that he/she thinks will deliver results in a context marked by weakening institutions, poor governance, and increasing competition for upward social mobility.” 

Read the article here or on

Learn more about the project and our findings.

Read about our research methodology.

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Carnegie Event Videos

Panel 1

Thank you to those who attended our events this week. If you didn’t get a chance to attend, check out these videos from the Carnegie Endowment’s March 25th event “India Decides 2014: Assessing the Elections and Beyond.”

Panel 1: Introduction and Presentation of Survey Results

Featuring Jessica Tuchman Mathews, George Perkovich, Milan Vaishnav, Rajiv Lall, and Devesh Kapur

Panel 2: Implications of the 2014 Election

Featuring Devesh Kapur,  Ashley J. Tellis, Arvind Subramanian, and Ravi Agrawal

You can also view Milan’s presentation here.

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Milan Vaishnav on Charlie Rose

Watch Tuesday’s episode of Charlie Rose on PBS which includes a discussion about the upcoming Indian election with Milan Vaishnav from the Lok Survey project team, Sadanand Dhume, Professor Arvind Panagariya and Jonathan Shainin. The discussion begins at 28:17. You can also watch the video on

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TOI Series Article 3

Discrimination chart

In this Sunday’s installment of our Times of India four-part series on the Indian voter, authors Devesh Kapur, Milan Vaishnav, and Neelanjan Sircar take a look at how voters actually feel about dynasty and criminality in Indian politics using data collected from the Lok 2014 pre-election survey. They also examine caste-based discrimination and caste affinity (see charts), finding that 57% of people would be troubled by a candidate from a different caste winning the election. You can view the article here or directly on TOI’s website.

Don’t forget to also read the first two installments of the series, “NDA makes gains with urban, OBC voters” and “Growth is No. 1 poll issue for voters, survey shows.” Detailed information on the Lok survey methodology and weighting is available in this note. If you are in the Philadelphia or DC area, be sure to attend our events this week. Most importantly, keep following to Transitions for more pre-election analysis and commentary.

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Following the 2014 Election through Data-Driven Blogs and Articles


The last few years have seen the introduction of data analysis for election coverage into the public sphere. In the US, from the Nate Silver phenomenon to the team of “quants” that helped Obama get re-elected in 2012, data and numbers have wormed their way into the public discourse. In India, a lively debate is taking place on the role of opinion polls in voter behavior, as well as the transparency in reporting the results of the polls.

More than ever before, people are asking:

1) What are the numbers saying?
2) How do I interpret these numbers?
3) What other information do I need to believe these numbers?

The run-up to the 2014 general election has seen the emergence of quite a few impressive data-driven blogs and articles analyzing Indian political data. We are active readers of each of these authors, and we encourage you to follow them as well.

Below is a list of what we are reading these days:

Amitabh Dubey [@dubeyamitabh] at — Original analysis from multiple sources often leads to new, insightful conclusions

Puram [@puram_politics] at — Sharp prose and wit in analyzing election data from a Madras perspective

Rukmini Shrinivasan [@rukmini_shrini] at — A seasoned data writer for the Hindu delivers her thoughts with a penchant for clearly explaining and interpreting the data

Karthik Shashidhar [@karthiks] at — Author at Mint and data scientist with particularly careful analysis of Elections Commission and polling data

Here are some slick sites that provide a nice way to visualize political data: — Provides analysis and nice visuals. See the maps on tainted MPs and rallies! — One of the most beautiful sites out there, provides fantastic interactive data visualization

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It’s the economy, stupid

This post was written by Milan Vaishnav of the Carnegie Endowment, a member of the Lok survey research team.

In our second piece (of our four-part series with the Times of India), we discussed the issues that matter most to voters in India’s 2014 elections.  The Lok survey asked all respondents the following question:

“I want to ask you about the upcoming Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2014. These are the MP elections for electing the Central Government in Delhi. Which of the following issues will influence your voting choice the most? Pick ONLY ONE”:

The chart below displays the responses.  Economic growth was the number one issue, followed by corruption and inflation/price rise. The only other issue to break double digits was “changes in personal family income.” The dominance of economic concerns is striking: three of the top four issues are economic in nature (and it could be argued that the fourth, corruption, is linked with the economy).

Figure 1

Yet what is not clear from Figure 1 is how issue preferences vary by state. To understand the variation in issue preference across India, we created a color-coded matrix of the top three election issues by state. The dominance of the top three issues—growth, corruption and inflation—holds even when we disaggregate by state.

Growth was a “top 3” concern in nearly all states except for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (UP). Bihar and UP are moved first and foremost by concerns with corruption, with is understandable perhaps given their reputations for poor governance, followed by law and order (Bihar) and personal income (UP). Inflation ranks third in both states.  What is remarkable is, across all states, how few respondents identified issues related non-corruption related issues of governance or personal standing as priorities.

Figure 2

What does this chart tell us?

First, voters are angry about the state of the macro-economy and are much more seized with what political scientists refer to as “socio-tropic” economic concerns rather than pocketbook issues. Given that these issues fall within the purview of the central government, this is not good news for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Second, despite the occasional bursts of protest and media attention on issues of pubic safety, law and order does not seem to be a top issue in most Indian states, with the exception of Bihar and Kerala.  Interestingly, despite their many differences, voters in Kerala are equally bothered by corruption and are the only two states to identify law and order as a priority concern.

Third, Neelanjan commented on the low ranking of identity issues in his previous post (and we will have more to say about this in next Sunday’s Times of India piece). But one issue which does not figure into any state’s list of top 3 priorities is “leadership.” It could be that the concept is too vague for voters to grasp, but its low rating seems odd given the association of this attribute with BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.  What this perhaps reveals is that voters are not looking for a strong leader in the abstract; it’s really direction on the economy they are looking for.  Thus it appears that in India, as in the United States, it really is about the economy, stupid.