In an interview with Subhomoy Bhattacharjee, Bruce Stokes, director of Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Centre in Washington, answered several questions about the results of a recent Pew survey. The survey gave an 88 per cent approval rating to Prime Minister Narendra Modi across the country, and has since been the target of scrutiny by the opposition parties. Stokes took on the questions regarding the survey’s legitimacy and has emphatically backed the results.
On the timing of the survey results, coming a month before the Gujarat elections – hence generating positive momentum for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – Stokes said India has several state elections scheduled through out the year, so it’s indeed difficult to time a survey or it’s results.
On the question of the survey being conducted before the goods and services tax regime was implemented, Stokes said that the questions in the survey were wide in scope, including a lot of demonetisation, and were worded carefully enough so the impact was minimal. Also, the survey being carried out face-to-face in India ensures that the sample’s sentiment is captured correctly, he said.
However, the biggest criticism that the survey had to face was its sample size. A total of 2,464 participants had been surveyed and those unhappy with the results claimed that the sample doesn’t represent the 1.2 billion Indian population. Stokes refuted such claims and pointed to care taken in drawing up the sample, which takes into account state, language, age and several other factors before choosing a participant. Notably, in a survey conducted over a similar sample before the 2014 general election, Pew was able to correctly gauge the mood of the nation as was later evident from the election results.
Stokes also highlighted that Pew employs local partners with the survey being conducted in eight different languages. He said a system of checks and balances was put in place to rule out anomalies in the methodology, expressing optimism about Pew’s future projects in India.
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