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India's 2014 Elections: Voices of the Diaspora

May 12, 2014|

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A photograph of Narendra Modi, the BJP candidate for Prime Minister of India. Image by Quinn Libson, Whippany, NJ, 2014.

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Attendees of the Shiv Maha Yagna, a religious ceremony sponsored by the Overseas Friends of the BJP in Whippany, New Jersey. Image by Quinn Libson, Whippany, NJ, 2014.

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A man chanting prayers for the victory of Narendra Modi, a candidate for Prime Minister of India. Modi's own connection with Hinduism has been a controversial topic on the campaign trail. Image by Quinn Libson, Whippany, NJ, 2014.

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A photograph of Narendra Modi, the man who could become the next Prime Minister of India. Image by Quinn Libson, Whippany, NJ, 2014.

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Attendees of the Shiv Maha Yagna burn offerings to Shiva as a prayer for the victory of Narendra Modi. Image by Quinn Libson, Whippany, NJ, 2014.

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Attendees spent hours in prayer for the BJP. Image by Quinn Libson, Whippany, NJ, 2014.

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A silver cow figurine used in the Shiv Maha Yagna to pray for the BJP and for Naredra Modi. Image by Quinn Libson, Whippany, NJ, 2014.

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Almost all attendees were adorned in saffron sashes in support for the BJP. Image by Quinn Libson, Whippany, NJ, 2014.

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A woman praying at a ceremony sponsored by the overseas wing of the BJP, a party that is tied to the Hindu nationalist movement. Image by Quinn Libson, Whippany, NJ, 2014.

As the six week-long 2014 Indian general elections draw to a close, the country stands at a crossroads. The Indian National Congress, a party that has ruled India for all but 13 of its 67 years of independence, is predicted to lose its control of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, to the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, a party that is connected to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh a hindu nationalist organization. Narendra Modi, a politician with fierce supporters and fierce critics, is the candidate for the BJP. He's running a campaign that promises development, foreign investment, and a more business-friendly India. Many things in India may change with this transfer of power and the Indian electorate is optimistic that this election may signal an upswing in the country's economic growth and a shift in the way the government deals with widespread high-level corruption.

People all over the world have been closely monitoring this election. But one group in the United States is particularly invested in the outcome of the polling—the Indian diaspora. Members of this community have family in India and feel tied to the country through heritage, culture, and religion. Indian Americans are participating in the Indian electoral process like never before, sending money, calling relatives and friends, and even traveling to India to campaign for their favorite candidates and parties on the ground. Why are Indian Americans so invested in an election halfway around the world, and what does this involvement mean for the connection between the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy?

In this podcast, the diaspora speaks for itself, exploring these questions and more.