NEW DELHI – As their economy slows and the government is hammered by corruption scandals, Indians are increasingly dejected about their country's future, according to a survey released Monday by the Pew Research Center.
Only 38 percent of Indians were satisfied with the direction that the country had taken, a 13-percentage-point drop from last year and the largest such dip in 17 countries surveyed in both 2011 and 2012. India's satisfaction trails China and Brazil but still exceeds the United States, where only 29 percent were happy about their country's state of affairs. The survey found that 82 percent of Chinese and 53 percent of Brazilians were satisfied with the overall direction of their respective countries.
About eight in 10 Indians interviewed said the shape of the economy, unemployment and rising prices were "very big problems," the report said.
"In a world where the Americans, the Europeans and even the Chinese have reason to worry about their economies, it is the Indians who have lost the greatest faith in their economic fortunes," it added.
India's economy grew a disappointing 5.5 percent in the last quarter ending June, a sharp slowdown from the 8 percent growth in the same period a year ago.
The disappointing state of the economy reflects the complete disarray of the Congress party-led government, which has been embroiled in a host of corruption scandals. Opposition parties paralyzed Parliament in protest, leaving the government unable to act on economic issues.
In the session that wrapped up last week, lawmakers spent more time shouting at each other than conducting legislative business, mainly while focusing on a scandal over the sale of coalfields without competitive bidding.
Indians are also gloomy about the economic future and only 45 percent think the economy will pick up next year, down from 60 percent in 2011. The government is seen as the biggest culprit behind the poor economic scenario.
Despite that, nearly two-thirds of Indians think their personal finances are in good shape. Half said they were better off now than five years ago and two-thirds said their own standard of living was better than their parents' at the same age. But two-thirds also feared that their children will have a hard time getting better jobs and making more money.
Crime, corruption and persistent electricity shortages were also seen as huge challenges.
The polls for the Pew Global Attitudes Project were nationally representative surveys conducted in March and April by 26,210 telephone or in-person interviews in 21 countries.
In India, 4,018 adults were interviewed in person and the data were weighted to reflect the rural-urban proportion of the citizenry. The Indian portion of the study had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.
While India's relations with Pakistan, China and Iran have become increasingly important, large portions of the two-thirds of Indians living in rural areas were indifferent about foreign countries and leaders.