(Survey and original Tamil article by Vinavu, Translation also by Vinavu)
Three weeks after BJP government’s demonetization announcement, we decided to conduct an opinion survey in Tamil Nadu. After analysing media reports, our own experiences, people’s opinion expressed in various places, etc we short-listed 25 questions and reduced them to 13 after a few rounds of discussions.
Our objective was to find out exactly what people know about black money, what they think about Modi’s diktat, what changes they think this measure would bring about or not bring about. At the same time, instead of using the usual tactic of capitalistic media-institutions of leading questions engineered to get the desired result, we prepared the questionnaire accommodating all sorts of opinions, so that we can get a true picture.
Next came the question of target population. We planned to reach the majority, including common people, middle class, high salaried, low salaried, daily wage earners, students, house wives, small traders, etc. We thus chose areas in Chennai, Vellore, Trichy, Coimbatore, Tanjore & Madurai.
The following are the places where we conducted the survey. In Chennai, MMDA Colony and Maduravoyal MMDA Colony, in both localities, public places like market street, bazaar, etc; In Trichy, residential areas, bazaars, ATM queues in sub-urban localities like Thiruverumbur, Subramaniyapuram, Vayaloor and Bishop Heber College; In Tanjore, New Bus Stand, Market street, Construction workers, Manojipatti residential area; In Madurai, Court campus and residential areas, bazaars, ATM queues in Magavupalayam, Ellis nagar & Palanganatham; In Coimbatore, residential areas of Sulur, Kavundampalayam &Thudiyalur; In Vellore, Old bus stand, & New bus stand.
In total 85 comrades worked for the survey. It took one day in some places, two in some places. In Chennai, it was conducted on the day before the cyclone, on 12/12/2016; in other places, on the same day and following two days. Experienced comrades coordinated the survey.
In Chennai, comrades of Vinavu’s journalists group, PALA & RSYF and in other places comrades of PALA did the field work. The areas were allotted in such a way that the political background of the workers is not known to those surveyed. Only three among the respondents could identify the surveyors as ‘so and so’. Even then, they filled-in the questionnaire without altering their opinion anyway.
We did the filling-in for some people like house-wives and common people after explaining the questions to them. Middle class did the filling-in themselves. Those who waited in ATM queues filled-in voicing their minds with anger aggressively. Two transgender persons and a few Tamil speaking other state persons also participated in this survey.
Surveyors were divided into many small groups. They were directed to conduct the survey in such a way that age, gender, job and political affiliations of the respondents be taken into consideration and that all sections of the people get their say.
In addition to collecting opinions and publishing it, even if the result is not to our liking, our aim was to analyse why such opinion influence people and its socio- political background. This part of the survey will be published in the next part. Let us first see the figures of from whom, from where, from which section the survey was taken.
Composition of survey respondents
Total respondents in the survey
Male 2392 – 75.8%
Female 783 – 24.1%
Third gender 2 – 0.1%
Distribution of respondents, placewise
Chennai 902 – 29%
Trichy 343 – 11%
Madurai 555 – 18%
Thanjavur 225 – 7%
Coimbatore 308 – 10%
Vellore 154 – 4%
Other cities 250 – 8%
Small cities 292 – 9%
Villages 87 – 3%
Other states 41 – 1%
Survey respondents, age wise
Age 20-30 1208 38%
Age 30-40 784 25%
Age 40-50 542 17%
Above 50 623 20%
Distribution by respondents’ income
Low salaried 961 31%
High salaried 616 19%
Students 419 13%
Unorganized job 400 13%
Small trade 326 10%
House wife 325 10%
Business 110 4%
Survey respondents’ urban & rural percentage
Other states 1%
Percentage of Survey respondents with Newspaper reading habit:
Men – 79%
Women – 56%
Combined – 74%
Percentage of Survey respondents with TV News watching habit
TV News viewers : 91%
(Same distribution for men and women)
Survey respondents with both Newspaper reading & TV News watching habit
Male : 75%
Female : 54%
Both Newspaper reading & TV News watching habit in 3157 respondents
(Third gender 0.1%)
Survey respondents’ political party affiliation
DMK 11%, ADMK 16%, Congress 0.6%, Communist 0.4%, BJP 4%, No Party 63%, Other parties 5%
Logistics and budget
The Himalayan task of capturing the questionnaire data in the computer loomed large next. Cyclone Vardha on the very next day hampered our task. Then we prepared the software tool and many comrades carried out the data-entry after their office work. Some had put in particularly hard work. After the completion of entry and various checks, the task of analysing the results started. Finally the rendering of the data into images was done which are available below for your scrutiny.
The total expense of this survey from all the places, including that of questionnaire set-up, papers, pens, food and beverages, comes to just Rs 6000. Many Chennai comrades could take their breakfast and lunch in ‘Amma’ canteens, that too, for free following the death of Jayalalitha.
Usually the expense of the opinion surveys is determined by the number of respondents at a certain amount per head. The capitalistic world has come with various varieties of surveys like Overview survey, detailed survey, In-depth survey, etc and rates for them. If we compare Vinavu’s survey with them and if we take Rs 1000 per head, the expense comes to 30 lakhs. But we give to you for just Rs 6000.
Questions asked in the survey and the answers given by the people:
1. ‘Why can’t you bloody stand in the queue while the soldiers are risking their lives for the country at the border?’ Is this a fair point?
2. Will Modi seize the black money of Jayalalitha, Sasikala, Sun TV Marans?
No idea 41%
3. Modi has announced last week that one can keep 50% of one’s black money on paying 50% to govt. Is it right or wrong?
No idea 12%
4. Do you know what is Participatory note?
Don’t know 84%
Know a little 11%
Know well 5%
5. Where is the most of black money?
Swiss bank 38%
Bed room 10%
No idea 18%
6. What is the nature of the salary of actors like Rajini, Amitabh, etc?
No idea 48%
Black money 37%
White money 15%
7. Can this action taken by Modi eradicate the bribery in government offices?
No idea 10%
8. How do you make your purchases in the neighbourhood shops?
On monthly account 12%
Using cash 73%
Debit/Credit card 15%
9. Will the compulsory donation in private schools/colleges collected without receipt be stopped henceforth?
No idea 27%
10. The donation given by businessmen to parties like BJP & Congress?
Black money 64%
White money 4%
No idea 32%
11. Why don’t you protest even when affected?
Fear of Police 8%
No avenue 46%
Trust in Modi 30%
12. Modi’s action has resulted in the loss of work to small companies, small shops and workers. What is your opinion on it?
No one is troubled 15%
Sacrifice for the nation 37%
13. How many days did you stand in bank queues?
Less than a week 35%
More than a week 35%
Not stood in queue 30
Some quotes from the survey
“Were the politician put under hardship? No way… Can you show one politician in hardship? Only the aged stand in queue and fall dead. Doesn’t he have empathy…? Won’t his conscience trouble him on the death of so many? What kind of a creature is he?”
“No madam, Modi himself is telling that such troubles are there for just a few days and that if we bear them, the future would be bright. Don’t we have to eradicate the black money?”
“Let him eradicate. Who objected? But is he the one who is going to do it? He came to Amma’s funeral, but he goes straight to Sasikala and stands there rubbing her head. How is he going to eradicate black money?”
– An opinion of a private school teacher during Vinavu’s survey.
Even if it’s a minority, a significant number of people believed that the “Modi’s action is for the eradication of black money”. Those with such belief as well as those who do not support Modi’s action are highly critical about the way the demonetization has been implemented. It is a surprise that even the BJP supporters and Modi’s fans agree that this action can’t eradicate black money.
A small section of working people says that they bear their daily hardship for the country’s sake. Anyway, most of the people are sure that Modi’s action is not for eradicating black money. They have come to this conclusion not based on the economical studies or newspaper articles, but based on their own life experience. At the same time we can’t deny the influence of the media that is shaping opinion favouring Modi.
In the beginning of the questionnaire, we collected the respondents’ background data like age, job, gender, party affiliation, habit of newspaper reading and watching TV news. The survey results based on that background info will be published in the next part.
“He says he is eradicating black money. Ok, but so far no bloody politician or college owner with black money has been arrested. See… it is Sunday today. I have no money to buy meat. Even those ATMs which worked for a few days are out of order now. Since morning I have searched street after street. See there… He is going by car. Do you thing he is in hardship?” decries Laxmanan.
An employee of a private company, Laxmanan voted BJP in the last election. As he speaks, a friend of him standing beside him called Manikandan interjected.
“Hey, wait, see Thinathanthi [A Tamil newspaper], Many crores have been seized in Vellore. Modi won’t spare even one person”. He then told us “Sir, how many have ruled since independence. Did anybody have the courage of Modi? You wait and see, now he has released 2000 note. In a few days when everyone has got it and hoarded it, he will also declare it invalid”.
“Hey, are we to keep falling dead? You know, seized notes are new. Without the knowledge of the government how he got hold of those notes? Are we fools?” Laxmanan retorted glaring at his friend. Then turning towards us, “Sir, how they changed the old black money to new black money is how they will change the new 2000 note if it is declared invalid tomorrow. Government itself is implicated in it”.
In order to avoid more conflict between the friends we moved away collecting the forms. We threw a glance at the Modi fan Manikandan’s form. He had ticked the box stating that the donation paid to schools will remain black even now.
Young respondents below 25 years were mostly apolitical or Modi’s fans. They too did not believe that this action will eradicate bribery and create ‘white’ India. A youngster told, “It is only an attempt, boss”. At the same time, it is also a fact that this section, particularly students, lacked general awareness of the happenings in the country. An analysis about this aspect will also figure in the second part.
While “any attempt is better than no attempt” is the thought of youth, housewives have diametrically opposite views.
“Brother, I deposited 13 thousands, trusting Modi’s words to deposit the money in the bank. Two days ago I went to bank but they refused to return the money. When I cried to the Manager, he agreed to give me 2000 per day. That day they give it to me as promised. Yesterday, I went there taking Auto up & down spending Rs 100, but they said they don’t have money”. This is the experience of 60 years old Fathima.
Her house owner had come from Purasaiwakkam to collect the rent. He must be more than sixty.
Fathima was promising him and sending him off “Sir, don’t mistake me. I myself will come in two days and give you the rent”.
“If we can’t adjust this much between one another, how can we call ourselves humans,” saying this he left and after walking for a few feet he turned and told “As soon as you get the money, bring it to me. For this trip itself, I have spent 200 now”. After telling this he went his way.
Fathima told me, “Think of this, young brother. Now I have to spend for Auto to go and pay the rent. I have become old. I can’t go by bus. Luckily the the house owner is a kind man. He has not shouted for not paying even after 11 days”.
Many of the women who go to work in small companies to support the family expense have not been paid.
Pramila, a private school teacher, told us “Sir, our employer has told us that she can pay our salary only after setting aside a portion of the daily collection. Now where can we go for money? Will Modi pay us?”.
At the same time, we can notice that the women who are house-wives not going out to work are also backward in their political and general awareness. We can’t deny that their opinion is shaped by TV. A significant number of them support Modi’s actions. On the other hand, those who go to work oppose Modi vehemently. An analysis on this aspect also will follow.
We can clearly see that the people’s hardships are mounting day by day. We started the conversation with a chicken stall owner in Anna Avenue at Arumbakkam.
He told “Sir, nobody is ready to spend. Thinking ‘if we spend the money away, we can’t get it back’ people are holding on to their 100s and 2000s and starving. Our life has become miserable”.
He told us that some shopkeepers have closed their shops, “Sir, these chickens won’t last long. We need to push it off as they come. It they remain unsold, we will lose money from our pocket”. As he is still getting a few orders from neighbouring non vegetarian restaurants for reduced quantities, he is running his shop and managing somehow. We asked him why can’t he get a swipe machine and his reply was, “Sir, I went to school only up to 5th standard. I don’t know what the rules for that machine are”.
An agent of used bike buying and selling lamented that his bank has suddenly asked for the photocopies of the id papers of two of his customers who had purchased bikes using their card and he is at a loss as to where to find those customers. In addition, in many cases, he says he is getting the money in his account only after two days after the sale on card swiping.
“Ok sir, Modi is the PM. There must be a meaning in what he says. Can’t you strictly say your customers that you can sell only on card payment?”
He replied wryly, “Sir, for that, the internet has to work. Even if it works, the bank server has to up and working. Sir, it is like a machine to crush bedbugs. Even if we get the money in our account after two days, Modi has set a limit to withdraw. How can then we manage for the rotation? This is nonsense, that’s all, sir”.
While the people’s hardships are mounting day by day, the fact that there is hardly any protest and that the society is silent is frightening. There is a question in the form about this. Many have replied to it as ‘No other go’.
In Trichy, We had asked to explain both those who have ticked Right and Wrong for the 1st question. Their explanations were of three types.
The respondents of both ADMK & BJP parties told that there is nothing wrong in standing in the ATM queue while soldiers stand in the border.
The respondents without party affiliations like government employees, shopkeepers, middle class and those who have some political awareness explained that the soldiers are standing for their salary and asked why they should stand to get our own money and that they don’t have to leave their work and keep waiting in the queue here. How many big businessmen are waiting on the road leaving their cars on the road? You see yourself. Will Modi stand in the queue? No. This guy is not worthy for a management position. We have been made to stand in the sun just for this 2000.
Yet some other asked as whether we are making the survey in support of the government. On our reply of something like media research, a person scolded us that it is because of people like us that Modi could get to rule, that he just succeeded in propaganda and that we should first be kicked. Some said that the aim of Modi itself is to increase the tax.
Three persons advised us not to openly use the names of the political parties (the question on the donation to cong+bjp in black money) as they may attack us and to avoid the names. Some told us to include the question “Are the people waiting in the queue black money holders?” also.
When we were conducting the survey at ATM in front of the central SBI at Trichy, people used swear words to curse Modi. Particularly those from middle class told us that they are highly affected.
At the same time, in residential areas and Madurai court campus, there are also people who adore Modi. In Coimbatore, BJP respondents spoke just like the TV debaters. Yet, they did not say ‘Jai’ to Modi in all the questions in the form.
If we take party affiliation, 4% of the total respondents have declared as BJP supporters. Their way of giving opinion and that of ADMK do not differ much. But it is predominantly common people in ADMK while it is middle class in BJP. We can see that in the areas where DMK had good influence like Tanjore & Vellore, opinions differ from other areas.
We met in Chennai a mechanic with own workshop. He told us that his child is ill, that he is trying to withdraw money from the bank since three days, that he has been trying to borrow money from among the passersby, even those who could have smiled at him once, all in vain and that he has nearly become a beggar. His eyes had become wet then.
“Ok sir, you say you are in deep trouble. Many who we met have also told the same. But why don’t you come forward to protest?”
“I have no other way, sir” was his reply. After giving the form back to us he hung his head down.
In general we could see a big despair in the people. In addition, we could feel that there is a rumbling volcano inside whose eruption can’t be predicted.
To be continued.