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Mis-leading light!

2 February 2006
Posted in: Scratchpad, Social issues | 6 Comments

That the Indian media is more interested in pandering to the whims of sponsors and making money rather than doing responsible news coverage has been well established, and enough bloggers have ranted about it. That the Times of India (TOI) is a leading light in this phenomenon is also quite well accepted.

But what is really annoying is their impression of readers being too stupid to figure out the real news from the b*llsh*t. A prime example of this is the frequent surveys they carry out. The front pages have garish headlines crying out what the city’s youth think of pre-marital sex or how many teenagers have tried drugs or what proportion of parents think it is fine to cane their children.

In trying to pass these surveys off as the general reflection of the people, the media does a great dis-service to the country. Which, by the way, consists of a cross-section ranging from the homeless and hungry, through those people struggling to make ends meet, and right up to those spending their free time and surplus money at discos and malls.

If only one reads these survey reports carefully, one comes to know exactly what a huge con they are. Witness this one, carried out by the TOI as part of some campaign to make Delhi world-class in 10 years. They talked to people ranging in age from 15 to 55 and came up with the conclusion that compared to other major Indian cities, Delhi has made the best progress in the past half decade:

Three-fourths of the respondents believed that Delhi has the best roads in the country and almost a similar proportion had the same to say about Delhi airport…. [I]n terms of medical facilities, the city is way ahead of its rivals with 86 per cent of the respondents saying so.

And so on, with a colourful graph to support their findings that 89 per cent respondents believe the city has made good progress. However, it so happens that only Delhi residents were questioned in this regard! How is a local Delhiite supposed to come up with a fair and informed analysis of another city?

But the last straw is the survey sample. One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry upon realizing that these “89 per cent” Delhiites who believe their city has made “good progress” are represented among 301 respondents!

According to the last census (2001), the population of Delhi was 13,782,976. Which makes 301 people about 0.02 per cent of the population. There was no mention of any sampling method to make sure the selection of respondents was representative of a cross-section.

(And not to mention the fact that anyone who has lived in Delhi for the past five years with their eyes and ears open knows very well that progress is the last thing the city is making!)

So was this survey an accurate representation of the state of nation’s capital or an eyewash to make TOI’s own campaign look good?

~PD

6 Responses

  1. Marie says:

    First comment! Whoo-hoo!

    Polls are quite stupid, really. Sometimes I wonder if they just make them up or, alter the results to fit their intended story.

  2. Payal says:

    I think they make them up! I’ve seen these college-kid-age types sitting around filling up stacks of forms.

    Of course, I could be wrong. They could be filling university applications!

  3. Alpana says:

    Totally agree with you on surveys and especially those carried in the Times of India. But I do think that Delhi has made tremendous progress in terms of infrastructure – at least in roads. Distances that earlier used to take two hours to reach now barely take 40 minutes. That is progress of some sort.

  4. Payal says:

    That’s only for some areas. ITO, for instance, is just getting worse. Two years ago I could go from Dilshad to GK in one hour. Now it takes closer to TWO hours – and that’s when there are no traffic jams! As for the Metro… have you see what it’s done to CP?! I mean, yes, they are solving some problems, but just creating others.

    And we shall not talk about power, water and autowallas!!

  5. Proteeti says:

    I think you just answered the question you posed in the last sentence. These surveys are just an eyewash – they keep coming up with new ‘truths’ about India’s youth, but they take into consideration only a few young people in the cities, completely ignoring the fact that 70% of India is rural!

    And Delhi has made no progress whatsoever – not according to our definition of progress, at least – but what can you say to people who think building more malls every year is a sign of progress? As for roads, the situation has not improved in the least. Flyovers have made things more difficult in some areas (for example the Chirag Dilli and Savitri flyovers), and with more cars hitting the Delhi roads every day, chances of them geting un-clogged and the traffic situation improving is highly unlikely.

    Not to mention the disastrous drivers with truckloads of aggression on Delhi roads!

  6. Rick says:

    That’s not just India, my friend. That’s everywhere, esp. here in the U.S. of A. Sad thing is, many of my countrypeople actually ARE too stupid to glean bullshit from truth, if ever it is reported. Argh.

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