POLITICS

Rural Distress Is On The Rise But Support Grows for Demonetisation: HuffPost-BW-CVoter Survey

There are warning signs from rural India, but overall, Modi is winning the perception battle.

30/11/2016 4:37 PM IST | Updated 30/11/2016 7:30 PM IST
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Adnan Abidi / Reuters

As India enters its fourth week since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's sudden demonetisation announcement, support for the scheme appears to be growing, but signs of distress are evident in rural areas, new data from a HuffPost-BW-CVoter survey shows. Despite growing media reports of distress and acute inconvenience, the percentage of respondents saying the inconvenience is worth it, rose from 84.5% on 21 November, to 90.2% during 29-29 November.

The poll was conducted for HuffPost India and Business World by CVoter on 28-29 November, as part of its regular tracking poll covering 1,203 randomly selected respondents in 263 Parliamentary constituencies across 26 States in 11 languages. The data was weighted to the known population profile, and the margin of error was +/- 3% at the national level and +/- 5% at the regional level. The previous round was conducted on November 21.

CVoter asked respondents how big a problem the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes was for them personally. The proportion of rural respondents calling it an "unmanageable disaster" grew from 12.6% to 17.8%. However the proportion of rural respondents who said it was not a problem grew as well, and nationally nearly half of all respondents now say it is not a problem. Older people and the richest were most likely to say that the note ban was not a problem for them.

The share of rural respondents who rated the government's implementation of the scheme as "good" fell below 50% between the two rounds, while the share who gave the implementation the worst possible rating rose to above 10%. News reports have indicated that sowing season has been badly hit and wage payments have slowed down leading to acute distress in rural areas.

Respondents told CVoter that they were now spending less time in ATM and bank queues than they had immediately after the announcement of demonetisation, when more than one in four across the country said that they had spent between half a day and over a day in queue. Nearly one in three now said that they were able to finish their bank work in less than two hours.

Interestingly, nearly one in five people said that they did not queue up at all immediately following demonetisation and nearly half said that they did not queue up this week. This could indicate either the low proportion of people who have bank accounts, or the low frequency of usage. In a clear sign that PM Modi's political messaging was working, a growing majority felt that the inconvenience was worth the effort of fighting black money.

However while the proportion of those who agreed rose in urban and semi-urban areas, it fell slightly in rural areas. A majority also agreed with the PM that the opposition's protests were on account of them not getting the time to hide their black money.

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