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We, the liars!

Lies, damned lies and now statistics on lying. A five-city survey throws up something we always knew — Indians are glib liars, writes Amitava Sanyal.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2009 22:05 IST
Amitava Sanyal

Suresh Kumar should know a thing or two about lying. As a reader at Delhi’s Tees Hazari court, he gets to administer the muttered oath — truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth — to more than a dozen litigants every day. “Most cases of cheating and divorce begin with lies,” says the 35-year-old who has been at this job for a decade now. “In divorce cases, both the man and the woman begin with 200 per cent lies — and then climb down to crying and blabbering the truth…I would be lying if I said I do not fib every now and then to my wife.”

Kumar’s candid comments are broadly borne out by a five-city survey that Ormax Media, a consumer research and media consultancy, has recently conducted. Commissioned by Star Plus as pre-launch test for the serial Sach Ka Saamna, the survey, that posed truth-or-dare questions to 100 people each in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Indore, reveals that four out of every 10 men or women admit to lying to their partner on a regular basis. Interestingly, the number goes
up to six for every 10 in Indore and down to three in Delhi.

There’s a caveat here, warns Shailesh Kapoor, partner at Ormax Media, who supervised the field research. “The respondents might themselves be lying and telling us what we want to hear. Such falsities are caught in other questions such as which age group lies more. Also, with such a sample size, the margin of error tends to be less than 5 per cent.”

India’s prankster No. 1, actor Cyrus Broacha, goes beyond the numbers to the hullabaloo over the serial. “Whether we are successful liars or not, I may not want to bare my soul on TV — it’s obvious they’ll ask about corruption and sex. But what do MPs have to do with it? They’re asking it to be banned and watching every episode at the same time. If Premchand were alive, he’d not have found a better satire of the times.”

Actress Urvashi Dholakia, who appeared on one of the Sach Ka Saamna episodes, says, “Why are we getting so serious? It’s a game show. And the polygraph is finally a machine. Why should anything or any relationship be dependent on a game show?”

Over to our excitable MPs.

(With inputs from Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi)