India has secured second position amongst 40 countries in a survey of trust in national governments for 2014 conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Switzerland has emerged at the top with Norway coming in third.
An impressive 73 per cent of Indians polled in the survey answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘Do you have confidence in the national government?’
For the purpose of the survey, trust represents the confidence of citizens and businesses in government to do what is right and perceived as fair, according to the OECD ‘Government at a Glance 2015’ report.
However, the survey findings could also be an indicator of the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – as also reflected in his decisive electoral victory during 2014 – relative to the leaders in other countries as the report mentions that there is preliminary evidence to suggest that citizens’ trust in government reflects primarily their approval of their country’s leadership.
The report goes on to say that evidence also shows that trust in government is negatively correlated with the perceived levels of corruption in Government.
This is the only survey that collects data on the issue of trust in governments. It is a sampling survey of 1,000 citizens in each country conducted by World Poll, which has been doing it since 2005.
Between the two selected survey years of 2007 — the year before the financial and economic crisis started — and 2014, trust levels in India dropped by 9 percentage points.
The average confidence in national governments across OECD countries between the two years declined by 3.3 percentage points. It was 41.8 per cent in 2014 compared with 45.2 per cent in 2007.
The steepest declines took place in Slovenia (30 percentage points), Finland (29 percentage points) and Spain (27 percentage points).
Changes in trust levels could be affected by many factors, including the economic outlook, political changes such as elections or other major events such as disasters or major scandals including corruption cases. Moreover, expectations of citizens could grow at a faster pace than government responses.
However, India scored less than the OECD average and came 24th out of 35 countries in the comparison on protection of fundamental rights.
These are rights established under international law: the right to equal treatment and the absence of discrimination, the right to life and security of the person; due process of law and rights of the accused, freedom of opinion and expression; freedom of belief and religion, absence of arbitrary interference with privacy etc, the report says.
India fared similarly on the count of constrained government powers where the top ranking countries – Denmark, Finland and Norway – demonstrate a highly balanced distribution of authority within societies.