Azim Premji University releases the third ‘Politics and Society between Elections’ (2019) report in Bengaluru today.
Politics and Society between Elections (2017−2019) is a research collaboration between Azim Premji University (Bengaluru) and Lokniti (CSDS, Delhi) that surveys public opinion relating to politics, society, and governance between elections across 23 Indian States and the National Capital Region of Delhi. The first report (2017) covers 4 States: Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, and Odisha. The second report (2018) includes 8 States: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Telangana. The current report (2019) focuses on 12 States: Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, and the National Capital Region of Delhi. The report explores citizens’ trust in political institutions, ties across social groups, ease of public service access, citizenstate interfaces and governance, gender roles and relationships, nationalism and political identity, freedom of expression, and populism.
The ‘Politics and Society between Elections’ project is based on rigorous research and investigates a range of issues that are important in a democracy undergoing significant economic and social transformation. The study provides a deeper understanding of public opinion and social attitudes, governance, the citizen-state relationship, and democracy – which we believe essential for a just, equitable, sustainable and humane society.” Anurag Behar, Vice Chancellor, Azim Premji University.
Sanjay Kumar, Director of CSDS, said “The ‘Politics and Society between Elections’ is a unique study conducted systematically to tap people’s perceptions and attitudes on various social and political issues between elections.”
The key findings of the report are:
“WHO DO YOU TRUST?”
The Indian National Army is the most trusted institution in India with effective trust (percent of citizens who trust – percent of citizens who distrust) of 88 %. The Judiciary ranks high as well. The Supreme Court, High Court and District courts enjoy over 60 % of effective trust. Political parties are least trusted – 55 % express effective distrust.
“O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN”
Elected local governments bring citizens closer to the state – among those surveyed in rural regions 32% would approach a sarpanch, and 15% say they would approach a local political leader to get important work done. Nineteen percent of urban residents also note that they would approach the ward councillor followed by government officials (14%) and the MLA (14%). More citizens approach the sarpanch or councillor to get work done over elected representatives to State assemblies (MLA) and the Parliament (MP). Yet, 50% prefer to approach a leader from the same caste or religion as themselves. There are differences across States on this preference, but it suggests social and cultural identities are entwined in how a citizen experiences the state and governance.
Do Indians distrust the ‘elites’? The answer is a resounding yes. Sixty percent of those interviewed hold this view about the elites. And it is not minorities and migrants blocking progress but influential people who do so. This sentiment is stronger among the younger Indians — 61% of those below the age of 35 years feel this way about elites, whereas 51% of those above 35 years of age hold the same view.
“JOBS, JOBS, JOBS”
Citizens are concerned with many issues between elections, but what concerns the most is unemployment. Twenty percent of surveyed – the largest share among self-reported concerns — state that unemployment is the biggest issue facing India, and 15% note that the most important government priority should be a remedy to unemployment. The most concerned are the youth — 49% are between the ages of 18 and 35 years. The second and third issues cited are ‘Development’ (15%) followed by ‘Law, Governance, and Corruption’ (13%).
“EASIER TO GET ADMITTED IN GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS THAN GET A WATER CONNECTION”
While citizens find several public services easy to access, some are easier to acquire than others. Admission in a government run school is considered “very easy.” Ten percent of those surveyed face difficulty. Citizens face greater difficulty in acquiring a water connection (36%) and garbage collection (34%).