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A Guide to Political Research


Rajeshwari Deshpande

MEASURING VOTING BEHAVIOUR IN INDIA
By Sanjay Kumar and Praveen Rai
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 175, Rs. 350.00

VOLUME XXXVIII NUMBER 3 March 2014

The book under review is an import- ant contribution to political research in India for two reasons. The first is about the structuring of the discipline of political science in Indian universities. To a large extent, the discipline of political science in India is what Yogendra Yadav mentions in his foreword to the book, ‘methodologically illiterate’ and as a result has not been able to develop a robust body of evidence based research. A related problem is about the hierarchical internal structuring of the discipline of political science in particular and of the Indian social sciences in general. In the context of these hierarchies, doing quantitative research is always looked down upon and such bias further contributes to the methodological illiteracy mentioned above. Without engaging in these controversies, the authors of this book have put together a very useful guide to doing voting behaviour studies in the Indian context which will definitely contribute to necessary awareness about doing technical, evidence based and methodologically sound political science in India.   The utility of the book however is not confined to academic practioners. It addresses some of the key issues that have been at the centre of media and (media centric) political discussions over the past few years. Indian democracy has always been a vibrant and volatile one given its vast scale of operations; its context of social inequalities and the resulting patterns of intense political competition. During the past two decades or so, the democratic dynamics has acquired several new dimensions with the emergence of a true multi- party system, with regionalization of the political process and with the participatory upsurge of the marginal social sections. With the arrival of multiple and contentious ideological frameworks in Indian politics since the 1990s electoral competition has become more fluid and electoral outcomes have become difficult to predict. The changes have brought in a completely new set of discussions and debates around Indian elections. Elections have become the main window to decipher Indian politics and electoral outcomes have aroused interest among wider sections of Indian society. Frequent opinion polls conducted by the media houses represent the more visible aspects of this interest whereas the revival of the tradition of election studies under the leadership of the Lokniti, CSDS represents the more academic side of it.   Debates and discussions on Indian elections at the popular levels, however, are often not complemented by any informed perspectives on ...


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