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India@75 survey: Indians favour policy push for rural development, govt jobs

The younger, and small-town Indians are more likely to expect the government to support cash transfers for the poor and provide jobs (Photo: Mint)Premium
The younger, and small-town Indians are more likely to expect the government to support cash transfers for the poor and provide jobs (Photo: Mint)

For three-fourths urban respondents, rural development takes precedence over making our cities high-tech. Free healthcare, education for the poor are also preferred over direct cash transfer by the respondents of YouGov-Mint-CPR Millennial Survey

How should India be governed? Around 53% of urban Indians would prefer a tax cut over cash transfers for the poor; 58% would like the government to be the job-giver compared to 42% wanting it to be an enabler of private sector jobs. When given a choice between two policies, the needle is bound to tilt in one direction, but there is no coherent ideology driving these individual preferences, shows the latest round of YouGov-Mint-CPR Millennial Survey.

The survey reveals the presence of both statist and capitalistic tendencies—an inherent contradiction—in Indians. No wonder, all governments, being people’s representatives, have so far shied away from following a singular economic ideology.

India's idea of welfare
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India's idea of welfare

The survey covered 10,271 respondents across 204 cities and towns. It was conducted online in June and July. It was conducted jointly by the Indian arm of the global market research firm YouGov, Mint, and the Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR). It was the eighth in a series of bi-annual online surveys aimed at examining the aspirations, anxieties, and attitudes of India’s digital natives.

The debate on “freebie" vs “welfare" has recently intensified. The survey shows limited consensus on the interpretation of welfare itself. The majority favours reducing income inequality over high growth, but would want the government to keep fuel prices low instead of promoting public transport. They may prefer free healthcare and education for the poor but not cash transfers.

An overwhelming 74% of respondents would like rural development to be prioritized over making our cities high-tech or glossy like London or Tokyo.

The younger, and small-town Indians are more likely to expect the government to support cash transfers for the poor and provide jobs.

Reservation debate

Two-thirds of respondents would prefer caste reservation in public sector jobs to be phased out as opposed to extending it to the private sector. The sentiment against caste reservation is stronger among the older generation, higher-income, more educated respondents and those living in larger cities. Those who identify with the Bharatiya Janata Party or no political party are more likely to oppose caste-based reservation than supporters of other political parties.

The survey question did not distinguish between reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Caste reservation, which was originally restricted to the most disadvantaged SCs and STs, was later extended to OBCs, even covering dominant castes. Most political parties skirt the debate on reservation to give it a rethink, afraid of offending one group or the other.

National vs local

Our discourse has undeniably become more national in recent years, and moved away from local concerns. National security, secularism, inflation have taken over issues such as potholes, waste treatment, community parks, etc. This is attested by the findings of the survey as well. National issues matter more than city problems for 57% respondents, compared to 43% feeling the other way round. The more educated respondents are more concerned about city problems. There was no clear trend based on income, age or city tier.

When asked to select the three biggest problems in their city in the next five years, 55% picked air pollution. This hardly comes as a surprise given the fatal air quality in a number of Indian cities, many of which notoriously feature in the world's most polluted cities. 42% selected waste management, followed by 38% choosing clean drinking water. Only 17% and 16% picked housing crisis and electricity shortage, respectively.

The top three choices correlate with degrading environment and sustainability issues, which now warrant more attention from policymakers, after the constituent becoming more wary of them.

This is one of six parts in a data journalism series based on the YouGov-Mint-CPR survey held in the run-up to India completing 75 years of independence. Read all the parts here

The survey's questionnaires, raw data and methodology for all rounds, including the latest one, can be found here

 

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