Yadav said that the reporter had made some factual errors while quoting from the survey.
The survey was conducted in 7 districts of Bundelkhand, which is part of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and was released at the end of November.
1. What India Today reported:"Yogendra Yadav released a survey report of agrarian crisis in Bundelkhand region, an area spread in 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh".
Yogendra Yadav's rebuttal: Actually, the opening line of our press release and the maps in the presentation make it clear that the survey was only about the Bundelkhand region of UP.
2. What India Today reported: "The survey was conducted mainly in three districts- Jhansi, Lalitpur and Jaluan in Uttar Pradesh".
Yogendra Yadav's rebuttal: Astonishing, because our press release and presentation clearly mentions that it was carried out in all the seven districts (and in fact all 27 Tehsils) of Bundelkhand in UP.
3. What India Today reported: "The survey claimed that 17% people are feeding their families ghas ki roti." That is not what we said. The presentation clearly stated the question "In the last eight months (since Holi) have you or anyone in your household had to eat Fikara (roti made of grass)?"
Yogendra Yadav's rebuttal: After the initial release and some confusion, we issued a clarification on 27 November and specifically referred to this question: "जिन परिवारों से बात हुई उनमें से 17% ने यह कहा कि पिछले 8 मास में (होली के बाद) कभी ना कभी ऐसी स्थिति आयी कि उन्हें फिकारा (घास की रोटी) खाने पर मजबूर होना पड़ा।" At no stage did the survey say that 17% population has shifted to Fikara as their staple.
4. What India Today reported: It says that the survey identifies Sahariya community as the ones eating Fikar.
Yogendra Yadav's rebuttal: Our reports make no such mention. If the author had paid more attention to what the survey actually found and its method, we would have had a more interesting and useful discussion on the main point of the article.
The main point of the author is that eating Fikar is not such a scandal, for it is one of the traditional small millets of the region like Kodon, Sawa, Kutaki, Ragi, Mandawa. To my limited knowledge, what the author says is true of other small millets but does not apply to Fikar (his own quotation from the District Gazetter does not mention Fikar). That is why the survey had two separate questions: one on "mota anaj" like kodon, kutaki which can be nutritious and another one on Fikar which is food of the last resort.
Is there something bad about eating Fikar? I think this question is best settled by consumers. Are they eating it out of choice, taste, habit or out of compulsion? What we know is that it is being consumed by the poorest communities. Also, when asked by newspersons, they said that they disliked its taste and that they were eating it for they had nothing else to eat.