Chetan Bhagat's Twitter poll on democracy: Please help us make sense of it

Opinion polls are a lot of fun.

In fact, making and taking opinion polls takes up a lot of our time at FP Special Forces.

And that's why the poll put up by author Chetan Bhagat — hold that thought. Yes, he's an author; in fact, we took exception to a member of our literary unit who questioned Bhagat's credentials as an author. It's the 21st Century, as we reminded our impudent colleague, and anyone can be anything. Cars can be robots, Donald Trump can be president and Bob Dylan can be a Nobel Laureate in the field of Literature.

Now where were we? Ah yes, it was our enduring love for opinion polls that drew our collective eye to Chetan Bhagat's Twitter handle on Tuesday morning.

Two things have to be said at this point:

First, Jiyo Cubeji, Jiyo!
Second, what on earth was that poll?

 Chetan Bhagats Twitter poll on democracy: Please help us make sense of it

File image of Chetan Bhagat. AFP

The first line is self-explanatory. After all, the man is a living legend.

The second line requires a bit more explanation. And this explanation will comprise five points.

First off, how does Bhagat quantify 'more democracy' and 'less democracy'?

The Economist Intelligence Unit has an entire team devoted to quantifying democracy and it does so with a variety of parameters including the holding of free and fair elections, freedom of speech, freedom of press, the influence of foreign powers on government and so on to provide countries with a rating that reflects their degree of democracy.

The Bertelsmann Stiftung's Transformative Index maps out a country's economic and political transformation over the course of a year — based on qualitative findings in a variety of areas — to map out its degree of transformation vis-à-vis being a democracy.

What parameters, if any, does the Bhagat meter of democracy take into account?

Second, is Bhagat conflating the notions of 'democracy' and 'freedom'?

Third, Bhagat draws a patently false binary in his attempt to do some 'research'.

We're not even going to get into the problematic idea of using social media to conduct research. The idea that Narendra Modi and 'more democracy' are either-or options is inherently flawed. It's like asking, "Would you rather that Ice Cube move boriya bistar to India or that Donald Trump decides not to be president after all?" And then when you say, "Well, of course, Trump deciding not to be president", the interviewer turns to you and says, "Ah-ha! You racist (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) pig! I always knew you hated black people!"

Fourth, the nature of this poll is biased and betrays its creator's personal view, much as he denies it in the tweet above. Just look at the second opinion poll he throws out there:

Even to the most objective viewer, these are loaded questions. And then, almost as if to justify these questions, Bhagat attempts to share with the Twitterverse his interpretation of his findings.

Valid criticism is a must. But the government has yet do anything even close to declaring an Emergency. So, is this hypothetical criticism valid? It's a lot like saying, "If you were to spill coffee on my brand new shoes, I'd hate you for life" and then being slapped with the title of being a 'hatemonger'.

And that brings us neatly to the fifth and final point: Look at what you've done, Bhagat! You made us go all serious and analytical and stuff. Shame on you!

But there is light at the end of the tunnel: If you enjoy opinion polls as much as we do, then you'll enjoy the one that follows, just to take this bitter taste out of your respective mouths.

Updated Date: Dec 27, 2016 11:44:59 IST