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Dynastic politics are here to stay

This morning the Washington Post published an article, India’s new parliament is not as new as you think about the continuing hold of dynastic politics in India. The author contextualizes dynasticism in politics by comparing it to the US and discusses reasons why Indian voters might prefer dynastic candidates. He pulls from the research of Fall 2013 CASI Visiting Scholar, Patrick French, who has done extensive research on political dynasties in India including for his his 2011 book India: A Portrait. Read his January 2014 India in Transition article on the subject.

The new attention to dynastic politics emerges after a recent preliminary report that at least 130 of the new MPs elected in the 2014 election are from political families indicating little deviation from previous years. This was anticipated in our own pre-election research which found that 46% of Indian have no problem with supporting a dynastic candidate. The reasons given for supporting dynasticism are listed in the table below.

Source: Lok Pre-election Survey 2014

Source: Lok Pre-election Survey 2014

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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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5 Big Indian Election Myths- Financial Times

Financial Times ran a recent story about the Lok 2014 Pre-election Survey results titled, “India elections, survey shatters five big election myths.” The “5 Myths of Indian elections” is in reference to a recent presentation of survey findings by Devesh Kapur of CASI and Milan Vaishnav of the Carnegie Endowment. In it, they busted the following widely held misconceptions about the Indian voter:

  1. Regionalism is surging
  2. Good economics DOES NOT equal good politics
  3. Voters are fed up with dynasties
  4. Lack of information breeds criminality
  5. Vote your caste, not cast your vote

Over the next few weeks, we will highlight how data from the Lok 2014 Pre-election Survey debunks these myths so stay tuned and follow this blog.