In Dadri, a village only 51 km from my apartment in Lajpat Nagar and 26 km from the CVoter office I have been visiting in Noida, a 50-year-old Muslim man, Mohammed Akhlaq, was beaten to death while his son Danish was also beaten severely. The reason these two men were removed from their homes and so viciously assaulted by an angry mob was a rumor in their village that they had eaten beef. Please read more about this story here in The Indian Express and an analysis of how beef and meat bans fit into India’s politics here in The Hindu.
Over the past two weeks, I have visited the CVoter office in Noida several times and met their CEO, Yashwant Deshmukh, for the first time. During these visits, CVoter was working on a pre-poll of the Bihar elections that was released by India Today last week. While this poll was conducted, I spoke with the staff about questionnaire design and fieldwork administration, and observed data punching and weighting. The results of this poll can be seen here. They are projecting a very close contest between the NDA and “grand secular alliance” in Bihar, with the NDA having a slight advantage.
This month will be an exciting one. From October 8-12, I will be traveling to Patna, Bihar’s capital, to observe the training workshop for the CSDS post-poll of Bihar right before the first phase of the election. Later during the month, I will return to Patna from October 22-26 to observe CVoter’s exit polls during the third phase of the election.
I had the good fortune to meet Dr. R.K. Thukral, the director of Datanet India, yesterday. His company is a tremendous data warehouse for government statistics and secondary data on India — from the national level to the state level to the district level to the village level. Datanet puts out bound volumes on electoral data for each state. Each one is a colorful compendium of beautiful maps and charts.
On the sightseeing front, I have continued to make visit different landmarks around Delhi. Two weekends ago, I visited the Lotus temple, the Mother Temple for the Baha’i house of worship on the Indian subcontinent, and went to a Japanese cultural festival that featured magnificent fireworks.
Last Saturday, I visited the Qutub Minar, the second tallest minar in India, and Kalkaji Mandir, a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Kali. Below are pictures of the Qutub Minar, though they will not do it justice. This stone pillar was built in the 13th(!) century by the Delhi sultanate. Amazing!
Last Sunday, I visited the Nehru Memorial and Museum Library, where Jawaharlal Nehru himself lived while he served as prime minister. The museum covers Nehru’s early life and has a detailed exhibit on the Indian independence movement. It’s very much worth a visit, though sadly there is almost nothing in the museum on Nehru’s government after 1947, though he was prime minister until 1964.
This weekend, I am heading to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. It is known for being the yoga capital of the world; the Beatles stayed at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram while there and wrote much of The White Album. Rishikesh is a pilgrimage site for Hindus that is also known as the gateway of the Garhwal Himalayas, since it is where the River Ganges descends from the Himalayas.