An IiT Blog

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How India’s parliamentary elections work

India’s parliamentary elections begin tomorrow! Learn more about how India’s parliamentary elections work….Infographic: How India's Parliamentary Elections Work

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India’s new voters: We are connected

EconomistThe Economist has dedicated significant coverage in their April 5th issue (including their cover) to the Indian elections. Check out their briefing on the youth vote in India which features data from the Lok Surveys. They argue that India’s political climate is undergoing dramatic shifts due to changes in the electorate (more young people and female voters), rapid urbanization, and rising incomes. The article also discusses the cult of personality around Narendra Modi and the voter’s prioritization of economic growth. Vaishnav and Swanson’s graph, highlighted in the issue, shows how voters today, more than in the 1990’s, are making their decisions on whether to re-elect incumbents based on the economic growth over their term.

The trend is towards pragmatism, says Rajiv Lall of the Lok Foundation; politicians need to focus more on delivering development. Not everyone welcomes that. A political commentator in his club in Kolkata—West Bengal is India’s strongest bastion for lefties—harrumphs that “the post liberalisation generation, the 22-year-old, thinks there is only one God, that is GDP.” Read more…


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The rural/urban divide dies out

Neelanjan Sircar and Milan Vaishnav from the Lok survey team have released new analysis of the survey data in a recent guest post on the beyondbrics blog at

Come election time, a standard trope goes that India is engaged in a relentless tug-of-war between its rural and urban populations. On the one hand sit urban metropolises like Mumbai and Bangalore, whose cosmopolitan citizens rail against corrupt politicians, fetishise growth and care little for parochial concerns, like caste. On the other hand sits India’s vast rural hinterlands, where caste dictates social relations and corruption takes a backseat to basic sustenance. Yet if this divide did once provide an accurate description of the country, there is good reason to doubt it as India heads to the polls in 2014. Continue reading…fig-1-vaishnav-gp

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Finding better leaders

Read CASI Director, Devesh Kapur‘s recent Business Standard article with Ananth PadmDeveshanabhan on the talent deficit for public institutions in India.

“India’s public institutions face major challenges in recruiting, motivating and retaining talent. The problem has been manifest in the core government bureaucracy for years. In 2012, the total authorised strength of the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service was 10,884, of which more than three thousand were vacant – 28 per cent of the total. In 2011, of the 100,000-odd Group A sanctioned posts of the central government, 15 per cent were vacant. In 2013, the army’s officer vacancies were nearly 10,000, while its annual recruitment was about a fifth of that (in 2012). In end-2012, against the sanctioned strength of 924 in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, 528 posts were vacant – unsurprisingly, India’s air safety was downgraded to category II by the United States Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year.

While the problems are significant at the entry level, they are manifestly more acute at the senior level. The absence of lateral entry at senior levels of the bureaucracy and the judiciary, the straitjacket posed by the seniority criterion and, of course, the “malleability” criterion imposed by the bureaucracy’s political masters have extracted a heavy price. As domain knowledge in a host of tasks becomes more specialised, the stranglehold of the generalist becomes increasingly self-limiting.”

Continue reading…

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Criminality in politics highlighted on Satyamev Jayate

Criminality in politics was highlighted in this Sunday’s episode of Satyamev Jayate, a hit talk show in India hosted by Bollywood superstar, Amir Khan. Watch for a special appearance by Milan Vaishnav at 32:00 minutes! You can also watch the video on Satyamev Jayate‘s website.