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Indians back state schemes for poor

But a large number of people are unhappy at the way central and state governments distribute benefits to the needy. Leaders at the summit| Wake-up call

india Updated: Nov 16, 2010 11:39 IST

Now, India is saying what the government already knew. Two-thirds of India (66%) feel government programmes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Bharat Nirman and Rural Health Mission are the best way to ensure that the benefits of India’s steroid-charged growth rates reach those who have been left out of the "India Shining" story.

A Hindustan Times-CNN IBN survey conducted by research organisation C fore of 1,621 adults across eight cities found that an overwhelming majority of respondents — cutting across age groups and locations — felt that such schemes could make a difference.

But even as large sections of the population gave these schemes an overwhelming vote of confidence, they signalled their unhappiness over the government's efforts at distributing benefits to the poor — 56% rate it as very bad or bad.

A further one-third feels it as average. And only 11% say it is excellent or good.

The disappointment is most acute in Chandigarh (85%) and Bangaloreans (80%). In Chennai (52%) and Patna (56%), smaller majorities agreed with the majority opinion in Chandigarh and Bangalore.

Residents of Kolkata and Delhi (45% each) and Mumbai (40%) were more charitable towards the government, but very few people, except in Mumbai, rated its performance as good or excellent.

Almost one third of respondents (32%) in India's financial capital rated the government's performance at distributing benefits to the poor as either excellent or good. In fact, not a single respondent in Bangalore agreed with this view.

And except for Kolkata, where 20% rated the government's performance as excellent or good, less than 15% gave the government its vote of confidence.

It may be time to bury the notion that young India doesn't know how the "other half" lives. Our survey shows that 65% (only 1% less than the overall score) of young adults (between 18 and 30 years) are aware that food is a major problem even in cities like Delhi and Mumbai.

And here's a strong message for those who oppose reforms in the food distribution chain — 40% of respondents, the single-largest group, voted "lack of effective distribution" as the primary reason for hunger and malnourishment in India.

And the onus is on the government to make a difference. More than three out of five Indians (62%) said the

central and state governments have to wake and deliver. Well, the people are putting their representatives on notice.

And yes, Indians are divided over whether excess grains should be distributed free to the poor — 47% say it is a practical solution and 40% feel it isn't.

Does this say something about our social conscience? Or does this point to the fact that India is a society in transition?

We'll leave that for a future survey.