No, “Many Indians” aren’t interested in PV Sindhu’s caste

NewsMinute’s numbers are off. Way, way off.


After the Brexit vote results came out, several news agencies (as well as the “fake” newspeople Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Samantha Bee) focussed on the fact that people were asking google “What is the EU?” the day after voting ended. It turns out that the number of people searching “what is the EU?” was about 1000–i.e. essentially zero compared to the 35 million people who voted one way or another in the Brexit referendum.

I think something similar is happening with a recent story in India on PV Sindhu, India’s silver medallist in Badminton in the Rio Olympics. NewsMinute is running a story that google searches for PV Sindhu’s caste have spiked after she won her silver medal. This is true, and can be checked quite simply by using Google Trends. But, as in the Brexit case above, a spike means very little unless accompanied by absolute numbers.

Newsminute provides one graph on absolute numbers, showing that 150,000 people searched for PV Sindhu’s caste in June 2016. They claim that, based on the recent spike, millions of people are searching for PV Sindhu’s caste. If that number seems suspect to you–as it did me–that’s because it appears it is.


Here are my results from Google AdWords. First, the number of people who searched for “pv sindhu”, and “pv sindhu caste”:











There were about 15,000 searches a month for PV Sindhu, and 170 searches a month for her caste over the last six months. Where newsminute got their 150,000 searches from I do not know, but that number is clearly rubbish. About 1% of all searches for PV Sindhu asked for her caste. This ratio holds even with the recent–and bloody well earned–spike in interest in her, as you can see below. If we accepted the NewsMinute number of 150,000 searches for “pv sindhu caste”, it would mean, with a factor of 100 for the spike, and a factor of 100 between the two search terms, that there were 1.5 billion searches for “pv sindhu”. Bullshit. [Edit (11PM): I realised after I posted this that the 150,000 is per month, whereas the hundredfold spike may have been per day. That means that my figure of 1.5 billion may be wrong. If so, it would mean, however, that on the day of her silver-medal win, there were (150,000/30) * (100 * 100)  = 5 crore searches for PV Sindhu. Which brings me back to: ‘Bullshit’.]


Now, 1% in India is a lot of people, and NewsMinute could be forgiven for saying “many Indians” given that about 20,000 people have searched for her caste. But they have to explain why their numbers are so far off.


8 thoughts on “No, “Many Indians” aren’t interested in PV Sindhu’s caste”

  1. and perhaps those who did search, were men dreaming of marrying her..but had to get this fact cleared for the sake of their parents who’re still in a caste away world! with her kind of looks! it’s easy for a man to start dreaming thus

  2. Sane people will think are we felling apart l think so. our pol
    iticians are torch bearer in that direction let us be so

  3. No true indian should be interested in caste of other indian.
    Why caste no true indian should be interested in other India’s religion.
    “india first” should be motto of all Indians.
    Unity in diversity.
    Jai hind

  4. When Google says 150,000 searches for pv sindhu caste it means 150,000 people searched for pv OR sindhu OR caste. The ad word data is more accurate as it gives a break up of each combination pv, pv AND sindhu and pv AND sindhu AND caste.

  5. No, I suspect journos mostly probing for Sindhu’s caste. Whoever did it, our weakness for caste – consciousness can’t be a matter deserving glorification. It is a riddle we need to part away with. It is high time we headed towards a casteless society, always aiming at achievement of best qualities in individuals and harmony between groups of people.

  6. ok fine i accept the survey was wrong. Tell me one thing do you all think india is free from casteism? today is the same scenario as 60 year back. we are at same point where we started. Nothing is changed.

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