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Elections and Voting in India

Richard Sisson

By Iqbal Narain , K.C. Pande, M.L. Sharma, & Hansa Rajpal 
Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1978, Rs. 40.00

VOLUME III NUMBER 4 January/February 1979

This book, as noted in its preface, is ‘an Evaluation Report on the Elections and Voting Behaviour Studies conducted in India since the first general elections’ commissioned by the Indian Council of Social Science Research. It surveys and codifies this wide ranging, vast and dis­parate literature and includes the results of a survey of scholars concerning their appraisals of the state of the art, and conducted by the author. It concludes by suggesting what are proposed as viable route of inquiry for the future. The judgements and appraisals offered by the authors concerning this body of scholarship are not particularly sanguine. Implicit in the drift of observation and argument in the book is that with a few notable exceptions, the state of election studies in India is at best inadequate, at worst dismal. Those studies devoted to the first general elections, the authors opine, employed elementary statistics, made ‘generalizations too sweeping to bring out the intricacies of election politics,’ and endeavoured to ‘emulate American models of voting behaviour studies without much success in terms of breadth or depth of treatment.’ Studies of 1957 and 1959 elections are judged ‘inferior both in sub­stantive and methodological terms to the studies of the 1952 elections.’ While the authors see studies of the 1962 elections making ‘considerable headway,’ it is then suggested that ‘the studies have been rather weak from the point of view of theoretical perspective and methodological rigour.’ While there are no general sum­mations of the studies of 1967, 1969, and 1971 and 1972 and the commentaries be­come somewhat thin in the final chapter entitled ‘Towards a summing Up’ the authors propose that in addition to the faults noted for earlier inquiries electoral studies have tended to ignore relation­ships between elections and inter-election politics, have not given adequate attention to political performance, and are inordi­nately imitative of western models in terms of theoretical frameworks, methods, and techniques. With the exception of several unpublished studies conducted by Bashiruddin Ahmed, and equivocal judgements of studies by Roy, Sirsikar, and Varma and Bhambri among others, most are judged as woefully wanting in terms of· theoretical import, clarity of focus, appropriateness and sophistication of method· or some combination of the same. For those interested in studies of Indian elections, the book possesses several uti­lities. It covers a wide range of studies and orders them in an intelligent manner. These include analyses of elections at the level of ...

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