Public Opinion on the Nuclear Tests Findings of a survey conducted by The Hindu

21 Nov, 1998    ·   156

Summary of the findings of a public opinion poll conducted by The Hindu newspaper on "Pokhran II and what it has done for India".

A survey of public opinion was conducted by The Hindu newspaper during the last week of September and the first week of October 1998 on "Pokhran II and what it has done for India ". The following is a brief summary of its findings published on 15 November 1998.






There were 482 respondents from 23 centres across the country, Of these, 91 belonged to the four metros ( Delhi , Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai), while the majority, 391 belonged to provincial cities such as Srinagar , Madurai , Visakhapatnam , and Jaipur. The gender divide in opinion on the n-tests as also the distinction between the educated and the uneducated respondents were recorded. The uneducated, defined as those who cannot communicate in English, included domestic servants, office attenders, housewives and petty traders.



The Questions Asked



·                     What was your immediate reaction to the Pokhran blasts of May?


·                     Would you say that India 's reputation in the world has grown as the result of the blasts?


·                     Will India 's new status as a nuclear power help the economic development of the country?


·                     Will the defence expenditure of India increase substantially hereafter?


·                     Should India produce nuclear bombs for use by the defence forces?


·                     Rank the following goals before India (1 to 5) according to the urgency and importance you would attach to them: Globalisation; Population Control; Women's Empowerment; National Security; Poverty Elimination.


Major Findings



·                     Immediate reaction to the nuclear tests: 43.78 percent of the people recalled "joy" as their "immediate reaction" to the tests whilst 40.55 percent sensed "Worry" as theirs. 15.56 percent continue to be too baffled by the event.  There appears to be a nation-wide consensus in that the "joy" factor accounts for 42.86 percent in the metros while it is 43.99 percent in the non-metro locations.


·                     Gender distinction: There is a significant gender divide on the issue. Of  the 231 males who participated in the survey, 47.62 percent said that their immediate reaction to the Pokhran blasts was one of "joy". The corresponding percentage for females (total 251) is less at 40.24. A greater percentage among females (44.22) seemed worried by the blasts and their implications than males (36.80).


·                     Educated vs. Uneducated: There is a close correspondence in the profile of opinion between the educated and the uneducated. The "joy" factor 45.32 percent for the educated and is only  marginally less for the uneducated at 41.86. While 50.56 percent among the educated believe that India 's reputation has grown, the corresponding figure for the uneducated is 47.44. Conversely, while 34.46 percent among the educated believe that India 's reputation has not grown, the corresponding percentage for the uneducated is 35.81.


·                     Nuclear power and economic development:  Only 25.10 percent of the people surveyed believe that India 's new status as a nuclear power will help economic development while 55.39 percent believe that it will not help. This is instructive when compared to those relating to the "Joy" and "Worry"  factors (43.78 p.c and 40.66 p.c). "While "emotional reactions" suggest that "Joy" has a higher score than "Worry", "studied reactions" seem to suggest that people by and large, do not believe that the Pokran blasts have much to contribute to the process of economic development."


·                     Defence expenditure: 69.79 percent of the respondents feel that Pokhran-II will lead to a substantial increase in defence expenditure. The perceptions are the same for males and females (70 percent and 69.60 percent).


·                     On the induction of nuclear arms: 37.58 percent of the respondents believe that India should produce nuclear bombs. This is less that the percentage of those who recorded "joy" over the nuclear blasts in May (43.78). A higher percentage among the females (54.84) believe that nuclear arms should not be inducted into the defence system compared to the males (45.89).


National Priorities: 40.51 percent accord population control as the nation's top priority. Only 20.59 percent of the sample population consider "national security" as the paramount national goal which much less than  the percentage of the respondents feeling "joy" over the Pokhran blasts (43.78). Poverty elimination emerges as the most preferred national goal for 31.29 percent of the population.