The Centre for Policy Research (CPR) has been one of India’s leading public policy think tanks since 1973. The Centre is a non-profit, independent institution dedicated to conducting research that contributes to a more robust public discourse about the structures and processes that shape life in India.
The key idea of the video is that the urban-rural divide in Indian politics is complex and influenced by factors such as caste, religion, engagement with the state, urbanization, globalization, communal violence, and the BJP’s strategies.
00:00 📚 The video discusses the urban-rural divide in Indian politics, highlighting the lack of comparative studies on voting behavior, lower voter turnout in urban areas, increasing competitiveness of rural seats, anomaly of BJP’s performance, and potential impact of rapid urbanization on political engagement.
1.1 The video discusses the urban-rural divide in Indian politics, with Professor Ashutosh Vashne and Rahul Verma providing insights and framing the conversation.
1.2 The video discusses the urban-rural divide in Indian politics, highlighting the lack of comparative studies on urban and rural voting behavior, the lower voter turnout in urban areas, the increasing competitiveness of rural seats, the anomaly of the BJP’s performance in both urban and rural constituencies, and the potential impact of rapid urbanization on political engagement.
1.3 The speaker discusses the boundaries of their remarks, stating that while they have published on urban-rural struggles in India, they have not done primary research on voting, which is different from development and public service delivery, and they mention the lack of a book called “The Indian Voter” but acknowledge the creation of a massive database on Indian elections by the csds team since 1993.
1.4 Party identification and strategic voting play a significant role in Indian politics, with the proportion of strategic voting being uncertain but acknowledged as a factor that can greatly impact election outcomes.
1.5 Cities are characterized by citizens who have a bundle of rights and direct access to public services, while rural areas rely on traditional categories and have differential rights for different groups of people.
1.6 In both India and other countries like America and Europe, there is a common pattern where citizens, particularly marginalized groups, access the state and its services through intermediaries rather than directly.
15:57 📊 The urban-rural divide in Indian politics is shifting as caste and religion play a different role, with urban residents being more religiously observant, the BJP gaining a larger share of the rural vote, and questions arising about the distribution of BJP votes compared to the Congress and the potential revival of strength for Regional parties.
2.1 Caste and religion historically played a significant role in Indian politics, but as urbanization progresses, the hierarchy and ritualistic aspects of caste have weakened, and there is a debate on whether caste and religion have become weaker in urban India.
2.2 Ambedkar opposed an elected third tier of government at the village level in India because it would reproduce social patterns of exclusion and dominance, and this opposition would also extend to the city level.
2.3 Caste in Indian politics has transformed from a ritualistic aspect to an interest group focused on extracting resources from the state, with movement politics preceding electoral politics in the South and Maharashtra, while the North lacks a comparable transformation; the key question is whether caste hierarchy is returning in urban India under Hindu nationalism, and data shows that urban residents in contemporary India are more religiously observant than rural citizens.
2.4 There is a difference between the role of religion in the US and Western Europe compared to India, as Western Europe experienced a political rebellion against the Catholic ecclesiastical establishment while India does not have a single religious establishment, making a direct clash between religion and politics unlikely.
2.5 The BJP’s penetration of rural constituencies has increased, with the combined vote of the BJP and Congress surpassing 50% for the first time since 1996, raising questions about the distribution of BJP votes compared to the Congress and the potential revival of strength for Regional parties at the state level in upcoming elections.
2.6 The BJP has significantly penetrated rural India, gaining a larger share of the rural vote than the Congress party in both the 2014 and 2019 elections, indicating that it is no longer just an urban or upper caste party.
33:03 📚 The urban-rural divide in Indian politics is complex, with issues of caste, dominance, and alliances playing a significant role, and the emergence of an India Alliance may be key in reversing the BJP’s influence in rural areas.
3.1 The categorization of dominant castes as OBCs is not accurate, as it fails to capture the dominance of certain castes like Reddys, Kamas, and Nairs, and calling them OBCs in certain regions like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh would be misleading.
3.2 OBC and Dalit votes increased for the BJP in the 2019 elections, while the Muslim vote remained static, and the BJP received more than twice as many votes from the poor compared to the Congress.
3.3 Caste hierarchy is potentially resurfacing in urban India under Hindu nationalism.
3.4 The possibility of upper caste dominance being re-established through Hindu nationalism and low caste assertion of equality is conceptually difficult, but the empirical evidence is inconclusive, and it remains uncertain whether regional parties will revive their strength without an alliance or remain prominent at the state level.
3.5 Can the emerging India Alliance reverse the BJP’s penetration of rural India in order to win enough seats, and can urban issues and electoral politics become more important before urban India becomes 50% of the total vote?
3.6 The speaker discusses the definition of urban and rural in India, the differences between urban and rural voters, and the potential similarities and differences between urban voters in different regions such as America and Latin America.
43:04 🏙️ The urban-rural divide in Indian politics is driven by the difference in engagement with the state, with rural areas having a greater vested interest in making the state perform, and as rural areas become more urbanized, these differences may blur.
4.1 The distinction between urban and rural areas in Indian politics is driven by the difference in engagement with the state, as the state in rural India is more visible and tangible, while in urban India it is more complex and invisible due to the multiplicity of agencies providing services, leading to a greater vested interest in the rural voter to make the state perform, and as rural areas become more urbanized, these differences may blur.
4.2 The differences in electoral and voting behavior in India are largely driven by the environment in which people are engaged, as seen in the higher and more dependable turnouts in Panchayat elections compared to urban local body elections.
4.3 The speaker discusses the issue of migration and its impact on electoral participation, questioning whether urban migrants should engage more in the electoral process and highlighting the potential blending of citizenship notions due to circular migration; they also inquire about the relationship between riots and urban/rural dynamics in politics.
4.4 The categorization of rural and urban voters depends on the type of constituency they live in, as different segments within a constituency can have varying characteristics and behaviors.
4.5 The urban-rural divide in Indian politics is influenced by the different ways political parties are organized and mobilize voters, but with the rise of social media, this distinction may be blurring, and there is evidence to suggest that Hindu nationalism and social justice are no longer overlapping categories.
4.6 BJP voters from different social classes in India have similar positions on certain ideological issues, suggesting a possible alignment between their voting choices and their pre-existing beliefs.
58:34 🏙️ Urbanization in India leads to a different political behavior compared to rural areas, with a focus on size and density rather than diversity and occupation, resulting in a lack of knowledge and understanding regarding empirical data and its significance in comparing voting patterns.
5.1 Urban definitions can vary, but in the context of Chinese urbanization, the Deputy Administrator of Beijing’s municipal office stated that urban is what the Communist Party defines it as.
5.2 India, Indonesia, and China have different definitions of urban, making it difficult to determine an objective definition, but the speaker does not have a solution to this problem.
5.3 Urbanization leads to anonymity and a departure from intimate knowledge of fellow villagers, resulting in a different political behavior compared to those in rural areas.
5.4 Ambedkar’s argument against a third-year elected government in India in 1950 was based on the belief that it would reproduce political legitimacy and social relevance, which is supported by the urban definition in Indian politics emphasizing size and density rather than diversity and occupation.
5.5 Rural citizens in India have greater rewards from engagement with the state, leading to different political behavior compared to urban citizens, and the surface area of the state is a new variable that affects voting patterns.
5.6 There is a lack of knowledge and understanding regarding the empirical data and its significance in comparing motors and reviews, which is an important question that needs to be addressed.
01:08:20 🌆 The urban-rural divide in Indian politics is influenced by globalization, with rural areas having stronger local governance and a focus on villages, but there is potential for convergence in notions of citizenship between urban and rural areas.
6.1 The urban-rural divide in American politics is stark, with rural areas and small towns being predominantly red and cities being predominantly blue, but the divide is not solely based on religious beliefs.
6.2 Globalization led to the devastation of the industrial Middle Belt in America, while benefiting the coastal elites and cities, which in turn influenced political outcomes such as the election of Trump and the Brexit vote.
6.3 Latin America did not benefit as much from globalization as China and India, resulting in high inequality, while China’s poverty rate significantly decreased due to globalization.
6.4 Rural local governance is stronger in India than urban local governance, and the focus of Indian politics and elections is still primarily on the villages rather than the cities.
6.5 Secular migrants living in cities and voting in villages may have their notions of citizenship, both urban and rural, converge, which could potentially reduce the stark differences between urban and rural notions, an idea worth exploring through empirical research.
6.6 Rural areas have a significantly lower percentage of deaths compared to urban areas due to the scale and lack of anonymity in small villages.
01:17:50 📺 The prevalence of anonymity in riots and the shift from riots to pogroms and lynching in India’s communal violence, along with the urban-rural divide in Indian politics and the mobilization of lower castes under the leadership of the upper class in the BJP, are discussed.
7.1 The speaker discusses the prevalence of anonymity in riots and the different types of violence, such as civil wars, riots, pogroms, and lynchings, highlighting their conceptual differences.
7.2 India’s communal violence is shifting from riots to programs, where the state either looks away or participates, and lynching is becoming a more prevalent form of violence.
7.3 Communal violence in India has taken the form of lynching, with incidents primarily involving Dalit men trying to marry or have relationships with upper caste women, and there is no evidence of Hindu-Muslim lynching.
7.4 There is a significant divide between urban and rural areas in Indian politics, with rural areas experiencing a higher proportion of criminal violence and having stronger village administration compared to urban areas.
7.5 WhatsApp and social media are blurring the urban-rural divide in Indian politics, and there is a need for empirical evidence to support the claim that the ideologies of the mundle voter and Hindu nationalist voter can be brought together.
7.6 The speaker discusses the urban-rural divide in Indian politics, specifically the mobilization of lower castes under the leadership of the upper class and the acceptance of vertical hierarchy in the BJP, but the basis for their support is still unclear.
01:33:01 📺 The urban-rural divide in Indian politics explores the connection between caste, Hindu nationalism, and voting patterns, as well as the impact of urbanization on voter participation and the BJP’s strategies for penetrating urban politics in South India.
8.1 Caste and Hindu nationalism cannot coexist, but caste is still a part of Hinduism, and if both caste and class are reasons for voting for BJP, then they should not be differentiated as they are ultimately connected.
8.2 The speaker discusses the impact of exogenous shocks on voting turnout and the relationship between urbanization and voting patterns in India, questioning whether urbanization will lead to decreased voter participation and if the ruling party will lose its rural support base, while also addressing questions about the revolt against Hindu nationalism and the BJP’s strategies for penetrating urban politics in South India.
8.3 Ambedkar argued that caste and Hinduism are interconnected, while Gandhi believed in reforming the caste system, leading to a disagreement between them, and the challenge now is to convince lower-caste individuals that justice and dignity can be achieved either by leaving Hinduism or by reforming it from within.
8.4 Migration from rural to urban areas in India has the potential to impact politics, particularly when the rural vote is evenly split, and as urbanization continues at a rapid rate, urban issues will play a significant role in the democratic context.
8.5 The video discusses the urban-rural divide in Indian politics and how people can vote against their own interests based on identity, similar to the phenomenon of blacks being Republicans in American politics.
8.6 The speaker discusses the need to empirically investigate the reasons behind the urban-rural divide in Indian politics, particularly in relation to social and economic factors, and suggests including these important questions in future surveys.
Changing Dynamics of Urban Politics
🏙️ With rapid and lopsided urbanization in India, the changing political engagement of urban areas will have a significant impact on the electoral arena, especially with the upcoming delimitation in 2026.
🏢 BJP can no longer be considered just an urban party, as it has successfully expanded its support base beyond the urban areas.
🗳️ The rural voter has a greater vested interest in making the state perform, as they see more to be gained from engaging with the state compared to the urban voter who can bypass public services.
🌍 The Brexit vote and support for Trump were driven by smaller towns and rural areas, highlighting the urban-rural divide in politics.
💭 The role of migrants and their disenfranchisement, as well as the tension between secular and more permanent residents, will be crucial in shaping the future politics and political parties in India.
Shifting Religious and Caste Dynamics
📈 The OBC and Dalit vote for the BJP increased significantly in recent elections, challenging previous assumptions and highlighting shifting dynamics in Indian politics.
🤔 The return of caste hierarchy in urban India under Hindu nationalism is a concerning issue.
🤔 The coexistence of Hindu nationalism and caste equality is conceptually difficult, raising questions about the potential return of upper caste dominance.
📊 Empirical data suggests that the categories of Hindu nationalism, majoritarianism, and anti-social justice are no longer overlapping in Indian politics, indicating a shift in public opinion and religious practices.
🗳️ The upper caste vote has managed to persuade a significant portion of OBCs, highlighting the complexity of caste dynamics in Indian politics.
Q1: What are the urban-rural differences in Indian politics discussed in the video transcript?
A1: The video transcript discusses several urban-rural differences in Indian politics. One key difference is that urban Indians are less likely to engage in the political arena compared to their rural counterparts. This could be attributed to the complexity of urban areas, where multiple agencies provide various services, making it harder to engage with the state. On the other hand, rural voters have more incentives to engage with the state due to limited access to services. Additionally, the salience of urban issues and politics has become important in India, highlighting the significance of addressing urban challenges in political discourse.
Q2: How has the BJP’s rural vote share changed between 2014 and 2019, and what does it indicate about the party’s influence in rural India?
A2: According to the video transcript, the BJP’s rural vote share increased from 30% to 38% between 2014 and 2019. In 2014, the Congress won 18.9% of the rural vote, while the BJP won 30.2%. These numbers indicate that the BJP has successfully penetrated rural India and is no longer considered solely an urban party. The increase in rural vote share by around 7.5 to 8 percent suggests that the BJP has been able to appeal to a significant portion of rural voters, solidifying its influence in rural areas.
Q3: What role does caste hierarchy play in Indian politics, and how has its influence evolved in urban India under Hindu nationalism?
A3: The video transcript acknowledges that caste hierarchy historically dominated social and ritual aspects in Indian society. However, it also suggests that caste and religious aspects are weakening in urban India, although this larger political question requires further examination to fully understand the extent of this change. Nevertheless, it is mentioned that caste hierarchy may be returning in some form in urban India under Hindu nationalism. Notably, the transcript references caste transformations that have occurred in certain regions, such as among the Nadars in Tamil Nadu and in universal Kerala. This implies that while caste hierarchy might be experiencing fluctuations influenced by Hindu nationalism, it is important to consider specific regional and contextual factors when discussing the role of caste in urban India.
Q4: How does migration impact politics and urbanization in India, as discussed in the video transcript?
A4: Migration has a significant impact on Indian politics and urbanization, according to the video transcript. Circular migration in India raises questions about which political field urban migrants want to participate in. This highlights the need to understand the preferences and engagement of urban migrants with the political system. Additionally, migration brings diverse populations into urban areas, contributing to the demographic and social changes associated with urbanization. These changes can have both positive and negative effects on politics, as urban areas become more diverse and face new challenges in terms of governance, service provision, and political representation. Understanding the dynamics of migration is crucial for comprehending the complexities of politics and urbanization in India.
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