Indians’ trust in govt and media slips, Trump’s US losing faith in institutions: Survey

Jan 22, 2018 04:31 PM IST

Edelman Trust Barometer studies people’s trust in the government, media, business and non-governmental organisations in 28 countries.

Trust in government, media and non-governmental organisations as institutions has dropped in India, says a survey released on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak about the country as an investment destination.

US President Donald Trump addresses the annual March for Life rally in Washington.(REUTERS)
US President Donald Trump addresses the annual March for Life rally in Washington.(REUTERS)

As many as 70% respondents said they trusted the government, according to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, a 5 percentage point drop from last year. As many as 61% people said they trusted the media--compared to 66% last year. As many as 68% people said they trusted NGOs--compared to 71% last year. As many as 74% said they trusted business--a number unchanged from last year. India, with a loss of 13 percentage point, was among the six countries with ‘extreme trust losses’ for the four institutes.

The survey showed overall trust in the four institutions fell sharpest in the United States than in any of the 28 countries surveyed. Trust in the US government has plunged since President Donald Trump’s first year in office.

Trump has broken with presidential tradition and repeatedly denounced the media and judiciary attacks his critics say risk undermining public confidence in those institutions. Italy, Brazil, South Africa and Colombia were the other countries with ‘extreme trust losses’.

By contrast, the country that saw the biggest trust gains among its own citizens was China, after a year in which President Xi Jinping cemented his hold on power at a triumphal party congress.

Faith in the Chinese government jumped 8 points to 84%. In the United States it fell 14 points to 33%.

“The United States is enduring an unprecedented crisis of trust,” said Richard Edelman, head of the communications marketing firm that commissioned the research.

Xi was the headliner in Davos last year, days before Trump was inaugurated. This year, Trump is the main attraction. He is expected to defend his “America First” policies in a speech on the final day of the conference of policymakers, CEOs, bankers and celebrities in the Swiss Alps, which runs from Jan. 23-26.

Pointing to the steep erosion in trust in the United States, Edelman said it was the first time since the survey began 18 years ago that such a precipitous drop was not linked to a specific event, such as an economic crisis or catastrophe, like the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Instead it comes at a time when the US economy is showing robust growth and stock markets are at record highs.

“Normally when things are going well, trust is pretty good,” Edelman said. “Increasingly there is a disconnect between trust and economic outcomes.”

The Edelman survey, based on the opinions of over 33,000 people and conducted between October 28 and November 20 of last year, showed an even deeper lack of trust in US institutions among the “informed public” - people who are college educated, earn above-average incomes and consume news regularly.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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