Edelman Trust Barometer reveals interesting findings about India

04 Feb,2015

By A Correspondent


Trust in India remained among the highest in the world even as the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that global trust in institutions had dropped to the lows of the global financial crisis in 2008-9. India emerged second highest on the list of 27 other countries in this year’s trust index, posting one of the largest increases in 2014.


In India, government saw the largest year-over-year increase in trust among the four institutions surveyed in the Trust Barometer. More than four in five (82 percent) informed public respondents expressed confidence in government this year compared with just 53 percent in 2014. This rise – along with an increase in trust in business and trust in media – helped India counter the downward global trend in trust. Trust in all four institutions in India remained well above this year’s global average of 55 percent.


“World events in 2014 contributed to a global sense of unpredictability and instability, but what we see in India is trust in anticipation,” said Robert Holdheim, CEO, South Asia, Middle East and Africa, Edelman. “The anticipation of better days brought 100 million new voters to the polls in the 2014 general election. The anticipation of growth gave Prime Minister Modi and the government an historic mandate. Trust may have eroded in many countries – at an alarming rate in some cases, but anticipation helped to bolster the state of trust in India over the past year.”


Nevertheless, challenges remain for India Inc. with global ambitions. Companies head quartered in the BRIC nations are largely distrusted around the world. Only one in three respondents (34 percent) outside of India expressed trust in India-headquartered companies in this year’s survey. This trust deficit is most acute for companies headquartered in emerging markets like India doing business in developed countries; a relationship trusted by just 22 percent of respondents.


“The contrast between trust in India and trust around the world is striking in many ways. Navigating those differences requires companies to understand how to operate in a trust-building way across borders and particularly when bridging the developed / developing country divide,” said Holdheim.


While in India the CEO retains a stable position as a trusted source of information, this year’s Trust Barometer results also show a rise in other trusted sources. Media as an institution saw a five-point rise in trust levels over 2014, defying a decline in global trust in media. This was spurred largely by an increased trust in social media as a credible source of information, rising from 71 percent last year to 86 percent in this year’s results. Online search engines continued to rise as a trusted first source of general business information, breaking news and news validation – the only type of media to do so among search, newspapers and television.


“There are new avenues of opportunity opening up for transparent communication: from the channel and spokesperson to the message,” said Rakesh Thukral, Managing Director, Edelman India. “The increasing trust trend in social media sources particularly suggests an opportunity for business and government to consider new forms of communication.”


For the first time, the Trust Barometer examined the link between trust and innovation, revealing that a majority of respondents worldwide (51 percent) felt the pace of innovation is too fast. Those results were even more striking in India where more than three-fourths (77 percent) believe innovation is happening too quickly.


Even in light of these concerns, trust in business innovations in India was significantly higher than the global average. Along with the other countries at the top of this year’s trust index, India’s results reflected a strong correlation worldwide between overall trust in institutions and acceptance of innovations.


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