Over the past few weeks, TV news and English dailies spent a lot of airtime and column space respectively on Vinayak Damodar ‘Veer’ Savarkar. Understandably, the coverage attracted views and criticisms from various sections of society. But is TV news justified in the blanket coverage accorded to the freedom fighter and an icon of the Indian Right?
How do Indians see him? Do they recognise him? Do they see his place in history? Prashnam decided to find out how many people remember him as a figure in the Indian freedom struggle and how important it is to discuss and recognise him.
Prashnam asked the following questions to about 12,344 respondents spread across 14 states – Bihar, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal.
As it is clear from the results, over 70 per cent of those surveyed had no idea about who he was.
To those who identified Savarkar in the first question, we asked:
- How important is it to discuss and recognise Savarkar now?
Of the people who recognised him, nearly 67 per cent think it is important to honour the freedom fighter.
If we combine the results of the two, we can see that nearly 80 per cent of the respondents don’t care about Savarkar. So it is worth asking if the amount of coverage provided to Savarkar is a waste of precious airtime, especially when there are more pressing matters facing India.
We see interesting variations state-wise. Awareness about Savarkar is very low in the heartland states and predictably very high in Maharashtra and Goa.
As expected, even across states, the people who acknowledged awareness of him felt that it was very important to honour and acknowledge him.
Prashnam, in keeping with its principles of transparency and integrity, makes available the entire raw data of this survey here for analysts and researchers to verify and analyse further.
Rajesh Jain is founder, Prashnam, an AI technology start-up that aims to make opinion gathering more scientific, easy, fast, and affordable. He tweets @rajeshjain. Views are personal.
The article is part of ThePrint-Prashnam Vox Pop series.