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Sarthak Bagchi

PhD candidate

S. Bagchi
+31 71 527 2727

PhD research

Clientelism and Patronage in Indian Elections: A Comparative Study of the States of Bihar and Maharashtra 

Supervisors: Prof Dr Nira Wickramasinghe, Dr Ward Berenschot (KITLV) 

The proposed study aims to undertake a systematic comparative study of clientelistic politics in two different states of India, namely, Bihar and Maharashtra. The study further breaks down the analysis of clientelism as seen from three viewpoints – the voters (the client’ view), the mediators/middlemen/naya netas/fixers/ local leaders (the patron’s view) and the state level leadership and political experts (expert view). He aims to focus not only on the number of voters and politicians engaging in a clientelistic relation, but also on the intensity or degree of such clientelistic relations along with the obvious questions of why and how they engage in clientelism, if they do so. He would be at one hand studying the level of engagement in clientelistic politics by the voters and politicians, and on the other hand he would be aiming to study the nature and distinct features of such clientelistic relations in these two different states of India.


Fields of Interest

Sarthak Bagchi's research interests are in the everyday functioning of democracy in India. He is particularly interested in how maneuvering takes place in various state-society relations in everyday forms of politics. Also a keen follower and observer of elections, he wants to see these changing and metamorphosing forms of state-society interactions through the lens of elections, in the democratic set-up. Recent experiences have busted some of the myths in the way the state or agents of state try to maneuver with the society at large and people in particular. Therefore he believes a systematic study of both these agents and the society might help in a better understanding of the processes. 




  •  2013 - Completed M.Phil in Political Science from the University of Hyderabad, in Hyderabad, India, with a dissertation on the topic of 'Clientelism in Indian Elections: A study of 2009 lok sabha elections'.
  • 2011 - Completed M.A in Political Science  from the University of Hyderabad, in Hyderabad, India, with a dissertation on 'The decline of the Communist Hegemony in West Bengal'.
  • 2008 - Completed Bachelors in Mass Media from the University of Mumbai, with a specialization in Journalism and Reporting. 

Also attended summer schools and advanced workshops conducted by CSDS, New Delhi. 

Work Experience

  • 2012 - Did a one month internship at the lokniti program of CSDS (Center for Study of Developing Societies) New Delhi.
  • 2010 - Successfully completed a one month long social audit of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) with Prof. Jean Derez in Chhattisgarh, India.
  • 2008-09 - Worked for one year as news reporter for a 24x7 English News Channel, with a national coverage in India called, NewsX. Covered crime and politics news and events.



'Clientelism and Patronage in Indian Elections: A study of 2009 lok sabha elections', paper presented at the International Conference on Governance, Democracy and Political Parties, Hyderabad, from December 1-3, 2012 at the University of Hyderabad.

Grants and awards

Did fieldwork in Bihar by undertaking Electoral Ethnography in the elections to the state Assembly under London School of Economics and Political Science's Explaining Electoral Change in Urban and Rural India’ (EECURI) funded by the India-Europe research networking programme led by Mukulika Banerjee. 

PhD candidate

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  • SAS India en Tibet


No relevant ancillary activities

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