Studying India’s Democracy with Data

An Ashoka University online course for high-school students.


Gilles Verniers

Course Dates

21 May – 31 May


INR 12,000 + GST


5 to 7pm

About The Course

There is today more data available than ever to study the functioning of India’s democracy. At the same time, there remains vast gaps in what we ought to know to study politics empirically. As a result, we tend to over-emphasise certain aspects of politics that are well documented – electoral outcomes, party performance – while neglecting others for which we don’t have the same level of granular understanding, such as the link between economic factors and elections. In this course, we will look at different ways of using data to think critically about Indian Politics. We will see that data merely helps us ask relevant questions and usually does not provide the information we need to answer them. We will learn that a data-driven approach to studying India’s democracy requires connecting empirical evidence with both context and theory, which we will do through themes and examples, including the study of the determinants of electoral behaviour, politicians’ careers, women’s participation in politics and the effectiveness of reservations.

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    Course Faculty

    Mahavir Jhawar

    Gilles Verniers

    Ph.D. Sciences Po
    Gilles Verniers is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Ashoka University and Co-Director of the Trivedi Centre for Political Data. His research interests include electoral and party politics in India, the mechanisms of representation and participation in Indian politics, Indian regional politics, democratisation in South Asia, the sociology of elected representatives and other public elites, controversies and problems in India’s democracy, identity politics and the intersections between gender and politics in India. 

    As Co-Director of the Trivedi Centre for Political Data, Gilles leads a number of research projects and data building efforts on contemporary Indian politics. 

    Gilles completed his B.A in Economics, Social and Political Sciences from the University of St. Louis, Brussels in 2000. He earned his M.A. in Political and Social Sciences with a specialization in International Relations from the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL), Belgium in 2004. He is a graduate from the Hoover Chair in Social and Economical Ethics, UCL. He completed his M.Phil in Comparative Politics and Societies with a specialization in Asia from Sciences Po in 2005. He completed his Ph.D. in Political Science from Sciences Po, affiliated with the Centre for International Research and Studies (CERI), Sciences Po. He is an Associate Researcher at the Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi, Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, and is a Non-Resident Visiting Scholar at the Centre for the Advanced Study of India (CASI), University of Pennsylvania. 

    Horizons Course Objectives

    Discover Your Interest and Aptitude

    Go Deep Into Specific Disciplines

    Learn with Amazing Peers from Schools across India

    Explore Unique Perspectives and Ideas

    Develop New Skills and Abilities

    Madhavi Menon

    Professor of English, Ashoka University

    Director, Centre for Studies in Gender & Sexuality

    Director of the PhD Programme in English

    Ph.D. Tufts University

    Madhavi Menon is an eminent theorist and scholar of gender, sexuality, politics, and identity. 

    She joined Ashoka University in 2013 as one of its founding faculty members. She went on to establish the university’s Centre for Gender & Sexuality Studies (CSGS), which is the first of its kind in India. Previously, she was a professor at Ithaca College and American University

    Most prominently known for her work on queer theory and Shakespeare, she has also edited the collection Shakesqueer and written three books on Shakespeare and sexuality. She is also most recently the author of Infinite Varieties: A History of Desire in India and Law of Desire: Rulings on Sex & Sexuality in India. 

    In addition to being Director of CSGS, she is the Director of the Ph.D. programme in English and Professor of English at Ashoka University.