By Sourya Majumder:
Much has already been written and said about how PM Modi’s ‘bold’ demonetisation move, aimed at rooting out black money from the Indian economy, has negatively affected the common folk of the country. Over 2 weeks in, the move continues to create huge lines at banks and ATMs, and has racked up a considerable death toll. Over 50 people have reportedly died so far, for reasons such as elders collapsing in ATM queues, hospitals refusing patients and babies treatment over outdated notes, and housewives committing suicide after their extensive savings, built up over years, were suddenly rendered moot. While people are clearly suffering, the move has also become a flashpoint for debate and discussion, with many a loud display of nationalistic pride and fervour. People criticising the move are being labelled ‘anti-national’ or ‘black money hoarders’, continuing a sad and alarming trend in public debate in the country.
In the midst of all this, PM Modi has continued to defend his stance that the move helps the “common man”, despite evidence to the contrary (he even broke down while defending the move). And two days ago, in an attempt to further gauge public opinion, The PM launched a demonetisation survey on the official Narendra Modi app. Based on the results, the Government has triumphantly proclaimed that over 93% Indians support the move (that’s 93% of the 5 lakh Indians who took the survey, by the way – for reference, the total population of India is 125 crore).
But there’s something important that the survey options completely ignored – something that well-known webcomic Sanitary Panels has “fixed” in this new strip:
— Sanitary Panels (@sanitarypanels) November 23, 2016
As shown above, there’s a glaring problem with the survey (apart from the fact that a smartphone app-based survey automatically limits the audience, possibly excluding those who have been most adversely affected). It has no room for dissent or disagreement! The questions and options provided are also highly loaded ones. Many questions, such as “Do you think black money exists in India?”, and “Do you think the evil of corruption and black money needs to be fought and eliminated?”, are generic ones that not too many people are likely to reply to with a “No”, while others, like “Demonetisation will bring real estate, higher education, healthcare in common man’s reach” do not have any clearoptions to disagree. With a survey specifically structured to help the Government win, it’s not hard to proclaim that an overwhelming majority of the country supports a move that has turned out to be life-destroying.
Sanitary Panels was created by artist Rachita Taneja, who is well known on social media for thoughtful and biting stick-figure comics on issues pertaining to social justice and the experience of being a woman in India. Incidentally, Taneja published her first Sanitary Panels comic in 2014 as a reaction to the arrest of students who had criticised the then newly-elected PM Modi. Over two years later, her latest upload hints at how little things have changed in this time. You can follow more of her work here.