November 04, 2015

Gushing Over Female Voter Turnout In Bihar Misplaced

In this IndiaSpend article, Praveen Chakravarty tries to understand the story behind the women voter-turnout in the Bihar elections


There may be a much simpler explanation if we believe the underlying data. Of the 12 largest states of India that account for 80% of all voters (UP, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, united Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Orissa and Kerala), Bihar has the lowest percentage of women who register themselves as voters.

As per census data, of the 77 million women in Bihar older than 18 years, only 38.5% have registered as voters. 41% of men older than 18 years in Bihar registered as voters. Even in the state of Uttar Pradesh notorious for its abysmal law and order situation, 41% of eligible women have registered as voters. With such a low percentage of women registering as voters, it seems plausible that there is a self-selection mechanism at play, i.e. only those women who are keen to vote, register as voters in Bihar and hence actually turn out to vote...

The fact remains that as a percentage of total population greater than 18 years, Bihar has the fewest men and women voting in an election. There could be various explanations for this by itself but none of which will also explain better law and order or male migrant labour or women empowerment etc.

While this doesn’t take away the fact that women turnout is higher in Bihar vis-à-vis men (as in Tamil Nadu), it is not clear that it necessarily signifies anything larger about law and order or Bihari society other than the fact that these women are very keen voters who take their franchise right seriously.


Read the full article here.

Topic : State Capacity / In : OP-EDS
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