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Why India Votes? (Exploring the Political in South Asia) Paperback – 14 Mar 2014

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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‘With a new approach to anthropology, Mukulika Banerjee combines intensive field work at local level with statistical materials at the national level. This is a unique study both for India and for democracies in general. It will inform and enlighten us all for years to come. If you are into India, get into this book.’ ― Meghnad Desai, Emeritus Professor, Department of Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science

‘"Why India Votes?" is a very good question indeed. Banerjee's enquiries are always interesting and illuminating, sometimes startling, and are laid out with great skill in this excellent book.’ ― Jonathan Spencer, Professor of the Anthropology of South Asia and Head of School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

‘This book revitalises the great tradition of political anthropology . . . by combining ethnographic methods with detailed comparative studies within one of the world's largest and most internally diverse societies. It should be read by all scholars of India and all scholars of democratic politics anywhere.’ ― Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University

"Banerjee (anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK) offers an anthropologist’s analysis of Indians’ high electoral turnout (60 percent) despite poverty and illiteracy.  India’s rural poor actually vote somewhat more than the urban middle class.  Banerjee disdains Western analyses that use quantified surveys to discern rational patterns but fail to capture the “messiness” of political life.  Instead, she had 12 ethnographers do “thick description” across India during the 2009 general election, interviewing voters in depth.  Non-Western feelings about democracy and voting, she claims, are varied and do not fit Western categories.  Consistently, Banerjee finds that Indians, especially lower castes and Dalits, love feeling free and equal, however briefly, when politicians have to court them face-to-face.  They know that politicians do little for them, but they enjoy the rallies, candidates’ charisma and handshakes, colorful posters, and the little payoffs candidates hand out.  Elections are fun and serve an entertainment function that affirms life and citizenship that the US could use.  Messy, yes, but India’s “vote your caste” jest shows a rational/instrumental streak.  In 2014, voters fed up with the Indian National Congress Party's failures on the economy and corruption shifted massively to Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, just like a Western electorate." --M. G. Roskin, Lycoming College

Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate, research, and professional collections. - CHOICE


About the Author

Mukulika Banerjee is Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, and Director of the South Asia Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge India; 1 edition (14 March 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1138019712
  • ISBN-13: 978-1138019713
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,67,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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