THe Blog

July 21, 2017

Colourism in Indian Politics

The authors in this Hindu BusinessLine article study electoral consequences of candidate skin colour, in Indian politics. 


"During elections, typical voters are not well-informed about candidates. As a result, voters typically use shortcuts to make broad judgements about candidates most likely to represent their interests, paying attention to factors such as party affiliation, caste, religion, and/or gender. Our research found that Dalits (and the poor, in particular) express support for dark-skinned candidates more frequently than the rest of society — findings that were later published in the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics in 2016...


The election of substantial shares of dark-skinned politicians associates dark skin with power and prestige in the public sphere, and can therefore potentially reduce the longstanding stigma associated with dark skin tones in India. Our study raised as many questions as it answered. Going forward, it will be crucial to examine whether or not this bias in favour of fair skin manifests similarly between rural and urban areas, North and South India, and male and female candidates."


Read the full article here

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