That bastion of academic research, MTV, has come out with a new study of the world's urban youth, and, guess what, India's young people are among the world's happiest. Predictably, India's top media outlets have trumpeted the good news. CNN/IBN devoted a full hour to it last night. The Times of India picked up the story and turned it into a feature on high achievers. And that's only the tip of the iceberg.
But here's a question. Who the hell did these guys interview? What was the methodology for this study? Turns out there was only a few thousand respondents across THE WHOLE WORLD, which means the India sample was astoundingly small. Did they talk to kids living in the slums, or just the MTV-watchers at PVR Saket? How many Muslims and SC/STs made the survey? And, since the domestic outlets turned this into a story about the boundless opportunities at India's call centers etc, how many non-English speakers filled out MTV's form?
Aside from the sample size/methodology, who are MTV's experts? Did they consider the cultural differences that might make it more (or less) acceptable for kids from one culture to admit to unhappiness than it is for kids from another culture? Or any of the millions of other variables?
I'm glad that India has reasons to pat itself on the back, but I think this obviously simple-minded and shallow survey should be left to MTV to promote.