Cornell ID – 2316802
What ails Uttar Pradesh?
The states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Tamil Nadu (TN) reveal a marked north-south divide in India. Uttar Pradesh, which was ahead of Tamil Nadu in the 1960s, now lags behind in the same sectors where Tamil Nadu has made significant progress. If one were to study Indian history or politics, UP’s lag would come as a surprise. All but four Prime Ministers of India have come from UP. UP has the famous Taj Mahal, the ancient & holy city of Varanasi and the confluence of Ganga and Jamuna rivers in Allahabad. These sites are of great national and international importance. What then accounts for such a miserable record for UP? The long-term reasons are unclear, but the more recent causes are identifiable. We use game theory to explain some of these causes.
For roughly two decades until 2007, no government in UP lasted throughout its term and there was no political stability. In the state elections of May 2007, the victory of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a primarily Dalit (lower caste) party under the leadership of Mayawati, finally terminated the endemic political chaos and promised political stability. BSP won 206 of the 402 seats in the state assembly elections. Mayawati’s victory was based on an unusual social coalition. In 2007, every sixth Brahmin (higher caste) in UP voted for the BSP. Even in South India, where the non-Brahmin castes came to power in the 1960s, Dalits, the bottom of the social ladder, were never in the lead. Mayawati’s 2007 victory constituted a democratic political revolution of sorts.
The BSP’s rise to power created a window of opportunity for economic development. In a state haunted by endemic political instability, the very promise of political stability was a positive development. Mayawati’s victory, thus, opened the possibility of a dualistic political thrust. She had the opportunity to combine the politics of dignity, the core of BSP politics thus far, and the politics of economic development, which would make it possible to serve a larger social base.
But electoral realities meant that the BSP had to change their original political agenda – restoring dignity for the lower caste. It was no longer a party that catered only to the Dalits. Rather, its emphasis on the “poor upper castes” as well as Dalits and “lower OBCs” (Other Backward Classes) meant that it needed to cater to a larger social coalition.
But why did BSP cling to their tactics of the “politics of dignity”? We presume the BSP think-tank was caught in a situation where they had no incentive to deviate from their tried & tested stance of “Dignity”. We assume a sequential move game here. The players in this game were “BSP” & the “Voters”. BSP had two strategies to adopt – the strategy of “Dignity” giving them a payoff of 10 (say) when the Voters “Accept” this strategy or a payoff of 6 (say) when they “Reject” this strategy or the strategy of “Dignity & Development” giving them a payoff of 8 (lower than 10 because of the additional effort they have to expend in promoting development). The Voters will have a payoff of 3 when they “Accept” the strategy of “Dignity” & a payoff of 2 if they “Reject” it. They get a payoff of 6 when BSP follows the strategy of “Dignity & Development”. We construct our tree & game table below [The terminal histories for the tree is (Dignity, Accept), (Dignity, Reject) & (Dignity & Dev)] –
| | |VOTERS |(PLAYER 2) | | | |ACCEPT |REJECT | |BSP |DIGNITY |10*, 3* |6, 2 | |(PLAYER 1) |DIGNITY & DEV |8, 6* |8*, 6* |