Digital India? An Email Experiment with Indian Legislators


Of the many tasks elected representatives perform, constituency service is among the most difficult to observe and, therefore, to measure. However, a burgeoning literature uses digital tools such as email to experimentally evaluate the responsiveness of political elites to requests for constituency service. To date, this literature has overwhelmingly focused on the developed world. In this article, we describe the results of an email experiment in which we sent plausible, but fictitious constituency service requests to national legislators in India to evaluate their responsiveness, helpfulness, and possibly discriminatory behavior. While the overall response rate to our request is quite poor, those that do respond tend to offer “meaningful” responses. We find scant evidence of legislators discriminating on religious lines.

India Review vol. 19 no. 3
Aidan Milliff
Aidan Milliff
Assistant Professor