Are Indians Obsessed with Pakistan?

Yesterday my very young colleague asked me, do you think Indians are obsessed with Pakistan? I said probably Not. He said, No, I think we are. It was intrigued why we gave different answers to the same question.

Obsession is a psychological state of mind that takes up time, effort and resources. To say that Indians spend all their time worrying about Pakistan is far from the truth. Most of us worry about our families, about work, about our communities and myriad other things. So one can definitely dismiss that we are obsessed with? That said, Pakistan (a surrogate for National Security) influences our voting patterns directly or at a subconscious level. Read this analysis in the Hindu. Just to be sure, our own surveys at the time came to the same conclusion. It influences our decision making but it is not the number 1 issue

The Issue that Matter is a issue-less Election

I used Google Search Trends to understand how we Indians engaged with the Topic Pakistan. I benchmarked Cricket as that too is a national topic (with seasonality associated with it which also impacts nationally).

I considered three periods to make the whole analysis interesting

Nov-December 2018 (Assembly Election Period)

April-May 2019 (Lok Sabha Election Period, IPL Period)

June-July 2019 (Post-Election Period, Cricket World Cup)

Share of Searches, Pakistan vs Cricket in India

Nov-Dec: 20% Pakistan, 80% Cricket

April-May: 20% Pakistan, 80% Cricket

June-July: 11% Pakistan, 89% Cricket

So the data confirms my earlier statement and the analysis done by The Hindu. While we do worry about Pakistan, we certainly are not obsessed with it. However, I have still not answered why the two of us responded differently to the same question. To do that, I looked at State level trends, I randomly picked one state from each region of the country

Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu

Share of Pakistan in Search Trends

Nov-Dec: U-24%, M-15%, B-29%, TN-8% (National Average: 20%)

April-May: U-29%, M-16%, B-32%, TN-7% (National Average: 20%)

June-July: U-15%, M-8%, B-19%, TN-4% (National Average: 11%)

The patterns are quite self evident, the country as a whole is crazy for Cricket. However, the state-wise variations are quite stark.

When it came to Pakistan, during the election period, Bihar was way off the National average and so was Uttar Pradesh. The Cricket World up pushed these numbers down significantly (which is why Cricket is a bigger national unifier perhaps) but still these two States were ahead of the national average when it comes to searching for Pakistan on the web. So, yes, if you are living and brought up in different parts of the country, you may respond to the question differently. Overall, the answer is clear, we are worried but not obsessed with Pakistan!

Subhash Chandra