If you were to meet the stereotypical Muslim couple in Lucknow, she would be called Noor, he Mohammad (but prefer to abbreviate his name to Mohd or Md) and their last name would be Ali - these are the three most prominent Muslim names found on Lucknow's electoral rolls right now. The runner-ups are Nasreen, Naseem, Sima and Parveen on the female side, Abdul, Ahmad, Ali and Saif on the male side and Ahmad, Bano, Khatun and Khan as far as lastnames go.1 What is interesting is to see how the frequency of these names change over time - and how gender plays a role in this. Let's have a look at male firstnames first (click on the image for a larger version):

  • 1. I should clarify that single names - if found on the electoral rolls - count as lastnames here...

There was a time in the 1990s when political commentators joked about Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his attempts to woo Muslim voters by calling him a "Maulana", an Islamic scholar. With the recent assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the talk of "Muslim vote banks" returned with vehemence - and many political observers attributed the clear SP victory to a "return" of Muslims to the party. In their surveys, political scientists did, however, not find any evidence for such a return (see here and here).

In today's blog - based on a draft paper I presented last week at Aligarh Muslim University - I argue that this contradiction might be resolved through closer attention to the local level. Based on my work with electoral roll data (see here, here and there), I unpack the "Muslim vote" hypothesis at the example of urban Lucknow. There, Muslims indeed voted more for SP - but not more than they always did (which might be different at different times, in other parts of Uttar Pradesh, or even in rural parts of Lucknow). This localized perspective nicely complements, but also complicates, existing assesments of the "Muslim vote". Since I am currently broadening the analysis to the whole of Uttar Pradesh, today's post is thus also an appetizer for a larger argument in the making.

Since I cleaned up my data anyway, I thought I might also take a deeper look at an earlier suspicion about Lucknow's urban sprawl. So I mapped the boundaries of the same according to three different datasets - the official ward boundaries notified in the late 1990s (based on census data from 1991), the builtup area as seen from NASA's MODIS satellite in 2002 (which I used in all my maps so far), and now the area in which polling stations had more than one booth in the 2012 assembly elections (which tend to be urban, while rural Lucknow has one booth per station, and one station per village). Here is the outcome (larger version):

When I posted a draft map of Muslim life in Lucknow last week, I briefly mentioned that the newer parts of Lucknow seem more strongly segregated into Muslim or non-Muslim areas than the old city. Similar comments were made whenever I discussed the map with people here. For today's post, I thus dug a bit deeper into the data to see if dispassionate statistics support this impression. By and large, they do: not only do more Muslims live in the older parts of town - people in old Lucknow also experience a more diverse setup of residential pattern than those in new Lucknow. Two graphs shall illustrate the point.

Luckily, the server farms in Oxford remained unaffected by the huge electricity blackout rocking North India for the last 48 hours. Ever since my post on Muslim names, they stoically crawled through Lucknow's current electoral rolls to guess the religious community each voter belongs to. They identified 98% of all voters at the pace of roughly half a million names a day (for comments on the accuracy of this matching exercise, see below). And they thus enabled me to generate a draft map of Muslim life in Lucknow by caculating population shares (voter population shares, to be precise) on polling booth level and linking them to polling station locality (drawn from the National Informatics Centre).

Apart from the river (in blue), my own home (red dot), and the MODIS built-up area polygon already featured in earlier maps, the following visualization shows "Muslim name" density (background shade), Haj pilgrims (green circles; drawn from the 2012 Qurrah), and major Islamic institutions in Lucknow. The map is interactive: do zoom in for increasing detail, and click on the mosques to get to the respective institution's website (there is also a larger version):