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Rediff.com  » News » Not all bad guys: The real story of Indian politicians' ethics

Not all bad guys: The real story of Indian politicians' ethics

Last updated on: July 17, 2014 21:13 IST

Indian politicians are often dubbed as criminal and corrupt. We've all been appalled and, begrudgingly, even accepted this oft repeated claim as fact. But how much of these attention-grabbing stories are accurate?

The Rediff Labs team decided to dig deeper and bring you the data.

We have looked at affidavits filed with the Election Commission of India by each Member of Parliament before the Lok Sabha election earlier this year. In this affidavit, each candidate declares details of criminal cases filed against them.

Here it is important to note that these charges against politicians are just charges. They have not been upheld in the judicial system and as per Indian law the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Arguably, claiming that someone has a 'criminal record' before a court conviction goes against presumption of innocence.

Since the charges also have a wide range of seriousness -- some earn a nominal fine (as in the case with traffic violations) while others can result in long jail terms -- it would be a gross misrepresentation to place all MPs with charges against them in the same bucket without factoring in the seriousness of the offence.

To correctly represent the ethics of India's MPs the data science team at Rediff built an ethics profile for each politician based on the sentence they could get if the charges against them were upheld by a court. This ethics profile has a four-point scale: Excellent (no charges), Good, Passable and Controversial.

It is clear from the visual above that large parts of the country are led by MPs with no charges against them.

The map of Indian politics then, contrary to popular perception, is dominated by MPs with excellent ethics.

For more data-driven journalism, check out Rediff Labs