Elections Workshop in South Asia examines elections in Pakistan, Nepal and India
On 16 November, scholars working on elections in India, Nepal and Pakistan gathered for a day-long workshop to comparatively examine electoral politics and culture in three South Asia countries – India, Nepal and Pakistan.
The workshop was organized by Professor Christophe Jaffrelot, currently a Global Scholar at Princeton University and researcher at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Dr. Sadia Saeed, Associate Research Scientist at the Department of Sociology at Yale University, and Professor Steven Wilkinson, Nilekani Professor of India and South Asian Studies and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs.
This was an exceptionally good time for holding a workshop on elections in South Asia. General elections were held in Pakistan in May of 2013. These elections marked the first civilian transfer of power following the successful completion of a five-year term by a democratically elected government. The Pakistani elections depicted some very interesting societal trends, of which the Imran Khan phenomenon in particular, and the proliferation of political parties in general, held special interest for conference participants. Other prominent themes on Pakistan included women’s presence in the Parliament through reserved seats, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s performance in Karachi. Participants who engaged with the Pakistan case included Adnan Nassemullah (JHU), Virginie Dutoya (Sciences Po), and Laurent Gayer (CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS).
The case of Nepal also figured centrally. A Constituent Assembly election will be held in Nepal on 19 November. Sara Shneiderman (Yale) and Jacob Rinck (in absentia) provided historical background to Nepal’s electoral system and elections.
Elections are also forthcoming in India. The current 15th Lok Sabha will complete its constitutional term in May of next year and general elections will follow soon after. Workshop participants spoke about various aspects of elections in India. A recurring theme was the choice of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to lead the BJP’s campaign. Christophe Jaffrelot (CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS and Princeton) directly addressed Modi’s performance in Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections of 2012. Madhavi Devasher (Yale) and Gilles Verniers (Sciences Po) discussed dynamics of ethnic and non-ethnic voting by Muslims of India. Gareth Nellis (Yale) shared his research results on the relationship between general and legislative assembly elections in India. Finally, Steven Wilkinson revisited his earlier work on the relationship between elections and ethnic riots.
The workshop was well attended and the conversation that followed each panel was exceptionally vibrant. The workshop was sponsored by the South Asia Studies Council at Yale and the Alliance program at Columbia University.