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Playing on with India tournament stirs anger” screamed the headline in the Financial Times on 1 May. The reference was to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament while the nation is ravaged by the coronavirus.

Should the IPL go on as planned or should it be cancelled? The question was on top of most debates, articles and opinions in the media.

As always, while commentators and experts opined, we believed it was best to go to the people and ask them for their views. Which is what Prashnam did last week.

Prashnam asked nearly 3,000 Indian adults across seven states – Bihar, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh — two questions:

The IPL cricket tournament — what is your opinion?

  1. IPL should be cancelled in view of the Covid-19 situation
  2. IPL should continue as planned
  3. Do not have a view

Q2. Did you watch Friday’s match between Punjab and Bangalore? (since the survey was done on Saturday, 1 May)

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Do not want to answer

Respondent profile: 2,961 adult Indians responded to this survey. They were from seven states covering 248 districts. 72 per cent were male and 28 per cent female. 54 per cent were youth (<40 years), 36 per cent middle aged and 10 per cent seniors (>60).

All India number is calculated based on population weighted average of these 7 states surveyed.

Also read: IPL took ‘show must go on’ too seriously. But even bio-bubbles can’t keep away Covid reality

Hindi-speaking states want IPL scrapped

A significant majority of nearly 60 per cent of people in the Hindi-speaking states wanted the IPL to be scrapped. While a majority of 54 per cent in the southern states wanted the tournament to continue.

Overall, 50 per cent of people surveyed (weighted by population) wanted the IPL to be scrapped, 33 per cent wanted it to continue and 17 per cent didn’t care either way.

Specifically, nearly 70 per cent of Rajasthanis wanted the IPL to be scrapped but a majority of 56 per cent of Kannadigas wanted it to continue. The cliched north-south divide seems to show up again in cricket interests too.

Evidently, the Covid-19 situation is far more dire in the Hindi-speaking states and hence the responses may be reflective of the situation there vis-à-vis the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Also read: Covid hits IPL as KKR’s Chakravarthy, Warrier test positive, match with RCB postponed

Significant viewership persists

Nearly 32% (or nearly one third) of people watched the 30 April IPL match between Punjab and Bangalore (weighted by population).

Expectedly, since the match involved the Bangalore IPL team, a majority of people surveyed, 53 per cent, in Karnataka claimed to have watched it. IPL interest seems high in TN (40 per cent) and in Uttar Pradesh too (33 per cent).

It is evident that it is not true that a significant majority of Indians wanted the IPL to be scrapped as the media narrative claims. IPL elicits great interest in the South and also records significant viewership. It also proves yet again the tyranny of distance for India’s supposed ‘national’ media that tends to be largely reflective of just North India.

As a matter of rigour and transparency, we have made available the entire raw data of this survey for interested people to verify, test and validate.

Rajesh Jain is founder, Prashnam, an AI technology start-up that aims to make opinion gathering more scientific, easy, fast, and affordable. Views are personal.

The article is part of ThePrint-Prashnam Vox Pop series.

Edited by Anurag Chaubey

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