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A New Political Bifurcation of India?

Submitted by on May 21, 2014 – 12:25 pm 7 Comments |  
India 2004 election mapAs mentioned in the previous GeoCurrents post, the 2014 Indian election reveals a intriguing division across the country, one separating the greater southeast, where regional parties generally prevailed, from the rest of the country, where the BJP generally triumphed. There are, of course, a number of exceptions to this pattern, such as Punjab and much of the far northeast. It is also too early to tell if this division will persist, as many of the patterns evident in the 2014 electoral map are relatively new. As recently as 2004, Andhra Pradesh in the southeast voted fairly solidly for the Indian National Congress (INC) rather than regional parties, whereas most districts in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar did not support either the BJP or the INC. 2014 India Elections Regional Parties map 1To illustrate the current regionalist voting pattern in India, I have prepared three maps. The first shows the states where a single regional party took a majority of constituencies. As can been seen, this category includes three large and two small 2014 India Elections Regional Parties map 2states, all located in eastern India. In making the second map, I considered as well states in which several regional parties together dominated the election. Here he only addition was Andhra Pradesh, which has recently been embroiled in the movement to create the new state of Telangana. This map best fits the southeast/northwest bifurcation of India mentioned at the beginning of the post. The final map includes as well states in which regional parties took a significant 2014 India Elections Regional Parties map 3number of seats, but did not dominate the election. Here the simple split of India into two electoral regions is not so clearly evident. Two Indian state, Kerala and Bihar, exhibited particularly complex electoral patterns; they will be analyzed in a separate post. Three Simplistic Divisions of India MapFinally, and at the risk of undue if not grotesque simplification, I would note that this electoral division runs against two other bifurcations of the country. In terms of economic and social development, India is vaguely split into a more prosperous and educated southwest and a poorer and less educated northeast (but with much of the far northwest fitting in much better with the southwest). Linguistically and perhaps in broader cultural terms as well, the main divide is between the Dravidian south and the Indo-Aryan north. The second-to-last map juxtaposes these three admittedly simplistic macro divisions of the country. Although I don’t put much credence in this map, I do find it intriguing that the lines converge in the vicinity of Hyderabad, a city and region that nicely exhibit the diverse economic, cultural, and India per capita GDP by state mappolitical conditions of contemporary India

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  • dw

    The nationalists are closer to Pakistan.

  • Luke S.

    Why does Sikkim have such a high GDP?

    • Small population, with a lot of tourism (some of it focused on gambling) and some mining. I suspect that the the biggest factor is hydroelectric development and the export of electricity to the rest of India. The map below is from International Rivers (2008).

      • Luke S.

        Thank you!

    • Thierry Dodin


  • Jeronimo Constantina

    It is in the interest of the West, and many of the smaller countries of the world, for India to succeed. For one, it is a democracy, the world’s largest democracy, in fact, and therefore shares a common system and values with the Western democracies. It is largely free of the violent religious fundamentalism of many nearby countries. And it does not share the budding global imperialism of its still totalitarian northern neighbor, which is now locked in competing claims with countries sharing the same body of water, disputes which are escalating into annexations or war – or with still another, even more northern country, a former superpower, which has taken. India is a country which much of the world would like to succeed. It champions not just democracy, but the rights of ethnic and linguistic minorities. Significantly, many languages are featured in its currency, and have official status at the state level and are used in the educational system. A model country for the emerging global order, on so many levels.