Eldeman Trust Barometer is eagerly awaited every year. As the issues of trust gain importance, this Barometer is indeed a wake-up call for all the institutions in the country to introspect where they are positioned as far as trust level is concerned. I hereby highlight seven reasons why Trust Barometer is important for India;
1] Business has emerged as the most trusted institution in India. This is surprising considering the fact that economy is in dump, and the markets are down. I think the trust in business has gone up simply because feel that business can give them opportunities for self-employment. The entrepreneurial culture is growing up fast in the country, which is indicator of people’s trust in their abilities to do business. The business can maintain this high level of trust by generating more jobs through community-centric focus, due to paradigm shift in CSR recently. It has become mandatory for businesses to invest in CSR activities. The trust results also show that people in other countries don’t have trust. in Indian business units situated there. There is a distinct dichotomy in trust here, and it will be a big challenges for Indian business houses to win trust abroad. I think the low trust level in other countries is a handicap here , which has an impact on image of Indian business abroad.
2] NGOs recording a rise in trust level is a welcome development. It shows that peope are expecting NGO’s to raise the socio-political issues, so that it puts pressure on the government. Anna Hazare movement presented a unique model of building up trust. This has given rise to more NGOs adopting a pro-active stance in mobilizing opinion on issues of national concern.
3] The trust level in government has come down, which is a worrisome trend.I think the rise in NGOs trust level is playing a major role here, as peoples’ trust in government has come down because NGOs are exposing weaknesses in the government system here. Surprisingly, the rise in trust level of government official/regulator shows that steps for increasing regulation are gaining more legitimacy due to rise in the corruption level. This does not mean that trust level in general bureaucracy is rising, may be the trust in solely regulatory officials is high. The results show that only 25 % feel that government officials do the right things. This shows growing distrust level in the government. A cloud of suspicion seems to have come up in people’s minds regarding the actions of government officials, and this is a bad signal for governance in the country.
4] The trust in media has generally come down. I think the main reason for this is that people are not fully convinced that media has an un-biased approach. The political and business interests of media remain uppermost on people’s mind. However, trust in traditional media remains high, which is a welcome indicator. I think people have a strong emotional bondage with the traditional media. It Is symbolic of India’s rich cultural heritage in which traditional media has an important role to play. Social media is still evolving, and has yet to find full legitimacy. With growing social media, traditional media faces a big challenge to maintain its high trust level. Much will depend on its ability to win people’s credibility through a professional approach in highlighting people’s issues, rather than focusing on elite political class.
5] It is good to know that in individual category, and experts are trusted most. I think this category thrives on high degree of professionalism, without biases. It also shows that well-educated brains don’t get their minds corrupted by external influences. The companies and organizations must nurture these think-tanks, which will increase their level of trust.
6] I think the Eldeman Trust Barometer must try to involve other institutions in trust survey. The glaring omissions here are police, judiciary, and politicians. These three institutions are the foundations of trust in our country. The nature of trust is fragile for all these institutions. So, including them in annual trust survey results, will be important in assessing the vibrancy of Indian democracy. While trust deficit in case of politicians is increasing, police and judiciary too are quite vulnerable on this front. Trust in police is low because it is considered a part of State machinery. Similarly, the trust level in judiciary’s independence is low, as the courts today have to increasingly interfere in those cases which could have been resolved by the executive and legislature. The trust survey should also include cooperatives, which are democratic-membership based organizations. They have won the trust of the communities in which they are embedded, the success story of Amul is quite notable here. The cooperatives are not merely economic organizations, but also have a social mission, so the trust quotient is high here.