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India's trust level falls by 13 points, one of the highest in world, as China "takes over" India's No 1 position: Report

By Our Representative
A new report, “2018 Edelman Trust Barometer”, has said that with an aggregate 13-point decline India has found itself among the six top countries that have experienced one of the highest trust losses among the 28 countries it has analyzed. The calculation is based on India’s trust-level slipping in three of the four categories analyzed – government institutions, media and NGOs.
While the trust in in the fourth category, business, remains “unchanged”, the report says, the biggest comfort for India is, the country’s loss “is considerably less than the 37-point decline recorded in the United States.” The other five countries which experienced losses are – Colombia (13 points), South Africa (17 points), Brazil (17 points) and Italy (21 points).
An American public relations and marketing consultancy firm headquartered in Chicago, Edelman’s report further says, “While trust in government remained high, at 78 percent and 70 percent across the informed public and general population, respectively, both witnessed a five-point decline from last year”, adding, “This possibly arises from a perceived mismatch between people’s expectations of government and the pace of change.”
“With the government in the fourth of its five-year term, expectations remain high, and the trust trends may point to people’s attitudes in the run-up to the coming general elections”, says Rakesh Thukral, managing director, Edelman India, in a commentary attached with the report.
The report shows that, as against India, China experienced the highest 27 point gain in the world trust level, followed by UAE 24 points, South Korea 23 points, Sweden 20 points, Malaysia 23 points, and Poland 17 points.
The report says, “China’s trust is soaring; it is now the No 1 market on the Trust Index among both the informed public and the general population. The government and media have always been highly trusted, but there is an inexorable rise in business and NGOs.” A year earlier, India was No 1 market, but the report finds the country slipping to the third position.
“The middle class is growing quickly, and Chinese brands such as Tencent and Alibaba are moving aggressively into global markets. China’s trust scores are nearly matched by India, the UAE, Indonesia and Singapore”, the report states.
Analyzing India’s position across the four sectors, Thukral says, “Globally, while media is distrusted in 22 of the 28 markets surveyed, making it the least trusted of the four institutions, India’s trust in media remains high at 61 percent. In fact, India is the third most trusting in the world of media, behind China and Indonesia.”
“While trust in media remains high, there is rise in the fear of fake news being used as a weapon”, the Thukral says, adding, “According to the findings, 73 percent of the respondents in India agree that the average person does not know how to tell real news from fabricated content, and 67 percent think it is now harder to tell if a piece of news was produced by a credible platform.”
“Business in India maintained its trust levels across both the informed public (84 percent) and general population (74 percent). Seventy-nine percent of respondents agree that businesses need to take the lead on pressing issues and self-regulate, rather than wait for the government to mandate regulation or give direction”, Thukral continues, claiming, “Looking at a business head’s key responsibilities, 73 percent expect CEOs to ensure their companies are trusted.”
“From the perspective of communications, CEOs (75 percent) and journalists (59 percent) saw the greatest boosts in credibility this year, while technical experts remain the most credible spokespeople with trust credibility levels at 77 percent”, he adds.
At the same time, Thukral says, “While trust in India remains on the higher end of the scale compared to other countries, the drop-in trust this year signals a clear need for institutions to step up and address issues that have led to this dip. The decrease in trust indicates questions in the public psyche about the role of various institutions, the pace of economic growth and truthful discourse.”

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