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xx INDIA could be next EGYPT
« Thread started on: Feb 12th, 2011, 9:49pm »

India angry, blames govt for corruption, inflation

NEW DELHI: Inflation is beginning to hurt seriously, corruption is at an all-time high and the government is not doing enough to tackle either problem. That is the way India's big cities feel on the two big issues dominating headlines in recent months, according to an 8-city survey done exclusively for TOI.

Asked what impact rising prices have had on their household budgets, only 3% said it has had a small impact. About a fifth of all respondents said they had been forced to reduce consumption of some items, one in six said they had put off some purchases, a quarter said it had reduced their savings and a little more than one in three said they had felt all of these impacts.

Asked who was responsible for such runaway prices, six out of seven blamed either the Centre or the state governments or both. Close to two-thirds said the government has not done all it could.

On corruption, the anger is even more evident. An overwhelming 83% said it is at an all-time high. Three out of five blamed politicians for this state of affairs and less than one-third of those polled believed the government is serious about the problem. Almost everybody maintained corruption scandals had tarnished the government's image.

Interestingly, almost two-thirds of the respondents believed that had corruption not been so pervasive, government revenues would have been higher allowing scope for some tax cuts. In other words, the objection to corruption isn't just on moral grounds.

The survey, done by Synovate, a global market research agency, polled almost 2,500 respondents in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Lucknow and covered people from socio-economic categories A, B and C.

Two shocks, different responses

Interestingly, however, there are significant differences in the details of the responses from various cities.

Almost everybody in urban India, for example, admits that rising prices have forced changes in family budgets, but people in different cities seem to have adjusted differently to the economic shock. In Hyderabad, for instance, the predominant response was that it had led to a reduction in consumption levels, with 46% offering that answer. In Mumbai, however, the impact would appear to be mainly in the form of reduced savings with 45% saying that's how they have coped.

Even the perception of who is to blame for this varies across cities. While overall 23% blamed the Centre, 12% blamed the state government and 51% said both were responsible, cities like Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Lucknow, all in Opposition-ruled states, saw the blame sharing skewed more towards the government in New Delhi.

Has the government done all it could to rein in prices? A majority in Delhi took a charitable view on this issue while three-fourths in Chennai returned a decisive NO.

Asked whether the poor have been the worst hit by spiralling prices, overall 46% said yes while 34% said the middle class had been equally badly hit. In Lucknow, however, 75% averred that the poor had indeed been worst hit while Chennai swung to the other extreme with 51% saying no.

Just how much corruption is grabbing mindspace was evident in the fact that 83% said it is at an all-time high, but if that is an impressive figure consider this: in Lucknow 99% said yes and in Hyderabad and Kolkata too the number touched 90%.

Politicians, not surprisingly, emerged as most peoples villains on the issue of corruption, but the mood was particularly marked in Chennai, where 67% blamed the netas, a reflection perhaps of the fact that a prominent Tamil Nadu politician, A Raja, has been at the centre of the most high-profile scam. Mumbai, in contrast, revealed an introspective streak with 41% saying all of us are to blame for corruption.

As on inflation, so also on corruption, Delhiites were the most inclined to be charitable to the government, with 52% saying they believed the government was serious about dealing with corruption. It was joined by Ahmedabad, where 43% trust the governments intent.

It is hardly a surprise that just about every respondent thought the governments image had taken a beating because of the corruption scandals. There were, however, differences on just how badly they have dented its image. Hyderabad was at one end of the spectrum with 80% saying they had very badly damaged the governments image, while Ahmedabad at the other end saw only 33% voicing that opinion.

Could we have lower taxes if we had less of corruption? Again, the responses were varied. The city that most accepted this link was Chennai, with 96% saying taxes could be lowered because less graft would mean more revenues for the government. In contrast, Mumbai and Ahmedabad, arguably the two most economically savvy cities, were most circumspect on this point.

Finally, would an amnesty scheme to flush out black money be a good idea? In a somewhat unanticipated response, 54% said it would. Perhaps just as surprising, the city where the idea was most welcomed was Kolkata (87%), while the one most opposed to it was Hyderabad (74% saying no).

TOI-Synovate mood of the nation survey

*97% say price rise has impacted family budget
*86% blame Centre and state govts for inflation
*62% say govt hasn't done all it can to curb prices
*83% say corruption at all-time high
*60% feel politicians main culprits
*64% say govt not serious about tackling graft

*96% say central govt's image damaged by spate of scams
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