Weekend research updates

I fell off the blogging train this week, and am now trying to get back on. At midnight on a Friday.

This week, I have been sifting through the data files from previous Bihar elections. We have data from the Vidhan Sabha (state legislature) elections of 1995, 2000, February 2005, October 2005 (no government could be formed after the February election so fresh elections were held later that year), and 2010. We also have data from the Lok Sabha (national parliament) elections of 1999, 2004, 2009, and 2014. My Lokniti colleagues are publishing a series of articles in The Indian Express about the different factors that will matter in the Bihar elections. The first article was a broad overview, while the second was a look at how the upper castes vote. More articles to come next week for all you Indian politics junkies out there.

In addition to picking through these datasets, I sat in on discussions for the questionnaire design of CSDS’ pre-poll survey of Bihar, and also learned more about how different assembly constituencies (ACs) are selected for the survey sample. Here, I must issue a corrective to a previous post: ACs are drawn through systematic random sampling, not simple random sampling. By which I mean a fixed interval is determined based on the number of ACs to be sampled (60 for Bihar, of 243 total) and a starting point randomly selected. The fixed interval is repeatedly added to select all the ACs to be included in the survey. CSDS does this three times to have three potential samples; the sample that most closely matches the scheduled caste (SC) / scheduled tribe (SC) share, vote share distribution from the previous election, and geographical distribution is selected for the survey.

I also have made contact with CVoter, the second research affiliate with which I am working while here. I will be returning to their office, which is all the way out in Noida (still part of the National Capital Region, but in the state of Uttar Pradesh), next week to observe some of their Bihar pre-poll operations.

I watched a moving documentary, Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hai, screened at the CSDS office today. The documentary covers the events and consequences of the 2013 communal riots between Jats and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. You can watch a (12+ minute, wayyyyyy too long) trailer for the documentary hereMuzaffarnagar explores changing religious identity in India, how castes structures village life, sexual harassment of women, and the sense of “honor” placed on women that is used to justify communal violence. One cannot finish the film without pangs of concern for India’s Dalit and Muslim communities and a fuller appreciation for the challenges women face in Indian society.


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