YEAR 2007 looks stable, peaceful and very promising to an overwhelming majority of urban Indians. An HT-Cfore survey — part of the season’s spirit of retrospection, introspection and some casual crystal-ball gazing — shows that 9 out of 10 Indians in the bigger cities believe that a year of steady economic growth, better or as good as 2006, lies ahead. And they are willing and eager to push the economy along, and intervene to change India for the better.
Removal of poverty and a rapid growth of the economy are the top priorities of urban India. Winning Olympic golds and a UNSC membership, for all the hype, are not. And only 4 per cent believe Indian cricket has a bright future in the coming year.
The survey was carried out in the second half of December in eight cities including Delhi. A random sample of 1,067 people, 45 per cent women, was given structured questionnaires at seven or more places in each city.
Over 90 per cent of respondents — age, sex and social milieu no bar — said they believed things could only improve. Outlook 2020?
Six out of 10 believe India would be a developed country by then.Revolutions are passé but the brew of citizens’ activism is getting headier. Only one in 10 believes in armed struggle; more than double that number put their faith in citizens’ activism — RTI and RDB style. And a heartwarming 60 per cent would support an NGO or charity to help less fortunate countrymen.
Gandhigiri rocks. Nearly six decades after his death, the Mahatma remains the King of Hearts. The Great G got the most votes to be Brand India’s mascot — 46 per cent, exactly double of what the Big B got. Not surprisingly then, peace rules. A massive 96 per cent said they did not believe India would go to war in 2007.
Many traditional social barriers seem to be weakening. A healthy 47 per cent would consider marrying (themselves or children) outside their caste, 45 per cent outside their community, and 43 per cent in a caste considered lower. True, we’re not perfect yet, but hey, we're getting there.
But old habits do die hard. Despite citizens’ activism, the largest percentage of us (37 per cent) still would not want to be a witness in court, mainly because we fear harassment and believe we are short on time. Still, hope floats: a ringing 35 per cent said they would definitely stand in the box to ensure the guilty are punished.
The corporate sector is India’s most preferred job giver. And the armed forces definitely aren’t — the majority of urban India would rather have someone else fight for their motherland. A little over half of those polled would like to work abroad; a slightly lower percentage would like to settle there. Politics is the most hated career — logical enough when only 1 in 100 believes politicians are honest and 9 out of 10 thinks we need better leaders.
So what is the big picture? As urban India stands on the cusp of a new year, there is satisfaction, but with a tinge of apprehension. Two out of three believe their lives are better or as good as their parents’, but only one out of two believes their children’s lives are going to be as good or better than theirs.