(by Apurva Chaudhary and Nikhil Pahwa)
Rajesh Jain backed online media company Niti Digital has launched an elections data site called Indiavotes.com. Indiavotes has data on Lok Sabha (parliamentary) elections since 1952 and all state elections since 1977, while it is, at present collecting and processing elections related information, the plan is for IndiaVotes to, in the future, also allow voters to add information on issues affecting their constituency. Niti Digital also runs a right-of-center online publication called Niti Central.
The timing of the launch of IndiaVotes is worth noting: it’s been launched just before the Gujarat Elections take place. The choice of name for the website – Indiavotes.com – is also an interesting one, particularly since the last Lok Sabha elections, IndiaVotes was a popular hashtag on Twitter.
On The Portal & Data
Users can directly search for data from Lok Sabha elections or state elections by submitting year, state and the constituency name. Apart from that, users can also look up for candidates name for the parliamentary constituency (PC) and assembly constituency (AC).
The search results are categorized based on PC/AC name, type, state, winning candidate, party, electors, voters, turnout percentage, margin percentage. The data is interconnected – you can view information on constituencies over the years, performance of various political parties etc.
What’s Missing & Comparison With MyNeta.info
We found the data easy to comprehend, however, while it might be useful for a media company, we don’t really know how knowing which candidate won when and by how much actually helps citizens make informed decisions. Granular data on the performance of MPs, promises made by candidates (and parties in manifestos), their criminal records and more is needed, which is where digitization of records and addition of user generated content might come in.
The search result does not include any information on the by-elections that had been taken place. The company also does not make it clear whether they would include by-elections information in their database in the future. Apart from that, the database also does not reflect the alliances formed between parties or individuals at the time of going to polls. This is necessary considering the coalition taking place in the parties for voters to make an informed decision. However, the company claims that it would soon include the information about alliances.
Another site which provides election and candidate related information is MyNeta.info*, which appears to have more much more data: such as information on the assets of various candidates. For example: they have information on assets of various candidates (movable and immovable), as well as information on criminal cases, level of education, declaration of interests etc. In terms of candidate information, IndiaVotes currently has only has election results info (See: Kapil Sibal on IndiaVotes and MyNeta). MyNeta also has some social media integration (though they could do better), while IndiaVotes has none; MyNeta has SMS integration, which, surprisingly since Rajesh Jain also owns Netcore, IndiaVotes doesn’t.
However, the ease of usage, search, and presentation of data in case of IndiaVotes is far superior, and with time, IndiaVotes could collect and digitize data, make it more easily share-able and integrate mobile functionality. It’s a good start for the site and we hope to see it populated with more and more useful data.
*Disclosure from Nikhil Pahwa: I’m related to Jagdeep Chokkar, one of the founders of the Association for Democratic Reforms, which runs MyNeta.info.