By: Dr. Gautam Pingle
The now notorious Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) poll for CNN-IBN called the State of the Nation Survey (SoNS) 2011 published in the Hindu of 12th August 2011 surprised everyone when only 48% the sample of Telangana respondents indicated support for a separate state. Following all the criticism, CSDS, as its reputation was at stake, appointed a Committee to review its survey with respect to the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh portion. The Committee consisted of Prof. Pradeep Chibber (University of California), Prof. K. Srinivasulu (Osmania University) and Prof. K. C. Suri (Hyderabad University). The Report is on the CSDS web site.
First, the most important key finding is that with regard to the Telangana sample, the final results did not include two of the sample districts (Ibrahimpatnam and Mahabubabad) as the “investigators were not able to carry out their work”. The report admits that people in these two districts were a major support base for Telangana and as such “ this increased the weightage of the sample from Hyderabad and its environs”. That is the Hyderabad and environs sample showed lower support – settler effect, perhaps. It added: “Ideally CSDS could have anticipated the consequences of this”. The consequences were that it showed lower support for a separate state in Telangana.
Secondly, the report considered that “the complicated question wording and responses were perhaps too complex”. It put the knife in by adding: “ a simpler question might have yielded different results. In fact, CSDS’s own surveys (such as 2009 SoNS) show that where a differently worded question with similar intent was posed the responses were different and support for a sepearte Telangana state was higher”. So the questions were tricky and different on this occasion. Made to order?
Third was the issue of 27% in the Telangana sample ticked off in the “Don’t know/ No Opinion” category by the interviewers. On this: “The Review Committee found that a significant proportion (one-third) of those who said “Don’t Know /No Opinion” to the question of a separate state for Telangana expressed a political preferences for Telangana Rashtra Samithi if elections were to be held in Andhra Pradesh.” Please remember that the respondents don’t normally fill up the form but the interviewers do and there is no way a respondent can check what has been ticked off!! And since most of the interviewers were Nagarjuna University students (very likely all from Coastal Andhra) working under the direction of the Honorary Convener of the Joint Action Committee for a United Andhra Pradesh (known before the survey by CSDS), one can imagine the rest – no prizes for that!
Since the TRS has only a single point agenda of a separate state, which the people supporting it are aware, a third of 27% (being 9%) should then be added to the 48% who categorically stated their support for separate Telangana. The support figure would then be 57% and adding an (unknown) element that would have come from the Mahabubabad and Ibrahimpatnam sample, a plularity of Telangana respondents sampled can be said to support separate statehood. The same poll then gives opposite results when dissected. Poor CSDS has been taken. Eternal vigilance is the price of credibility. But nonetheless congratulations to CSDS in investigating and publicizing the dissection of its survey.
Those depending on these polls should be aware of the issues here revealed after six months. The only real poll will be the election of supporter of Telanagana statehood to the Assembly and Parliament when the occasion arises. [From the HANS India]
The writer is the Director of Center for Public Policy and Governance, Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad
Read Mission Telangana.com’s Expose of CSDS Telangana Survey Fraud Here: