Indians topping online polls: Is it fair and square?

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Apr 26, 2014 01:13 IST

Since 2000, when Amitabh Bachchan was voted the greatest star of the millennium in a BBC online poll, Indians have dominated web polls, beating some of the best known global figures – and this has set many thinking.

In polls where every click means a vote, sceptics see an army of Internet warriors sitting before computers across India, ensuring their favourites come out winners. After all, India has the third largest number of Internet connections after US and China. And not every online poll has the technology to ensure that votes are cast from separate IP addresses.

The latest online ‘winner’ is Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, who has topped Time magazine’s ‘100 most influential people in the world’ – never mind most people outside India have never heard of him.

On Wednesday, another poll by British magazine Prospect revealed that the world’s top three thinkers were Amartya Sen, Arundhati Roy and Raghuram Rajan.
The magazine published its annual ‘World Thinkers Top 50’ list in its latest issue.

“We take pains to ensure that votes are cast from separate IP addresses,” said a spokesperson for Prospect. “Our poll evoked much interest from India.”

Sixth on the Prospect’s list is economist Kaushik Basu. Economist Partha Dasgupta is ranked 22nd and academic-diplomat Kishore Mahbhubani is at the 29th position.

In March, Indian journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary beat former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and two others to win the ‘Digital Activism Award’ (decided by an online poll) by Index on Censorship, a prominent London-based organisation. In his acceptance speech, Choudhary remarked, “We Indians have the numbers”.

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