October 24, 2016

Even in Era of Disillusionment, Many Around the World Say Ordinary Citizens Can Influence Government

3. India: At least seven-in-ten are likely to take action in response to political issues

A large majority of the Indian public reports having voted in an election, either in the past year or in the more distant past. Far fewer Indians have engaged in other forms of political participation and only about one-in-ten have engaged in any of the online forms of political participation tested.

Indian men are more likely than women to have attended a campaign event (48% men vs. 25% women), participated in a volunteer organization (25% vs. 19%) and have taken part in an organized protest (31% vs. 20%).

Government corruption and poor‑quality schools are top issues for political action in India

At least seven-in-ten Indians say they are likely to take political action, such as contact an elected official or participate in a demonstration, over a range of key domestic issues. The largest percentages say they are somewhat or very likely to take political action to address government corruption and poor-quality schools (both 77%). Slightly smaller numbers say they would take political action in response to poor health care, poverty or police misconduct (each 73%). And seven-in-ten Indians say they are likely to act to address discrimination against vulnerable or disadvantaged groups (70%).

Notably, the reported likelihood of taking political action is similarly high for men and women as well as for people of all ages, with one exception. Those ages 18 to 34 (75%) are more likely than people 50 and older (66%) to take political action in response to police misconduct.

Indians positive on their government and their power to influence it

Consistent with Indians’ generally positive views of their country and leadership, they believe that ordinary citizens can influence, and benefit from, their government. Roughly two-thirds (68%) believe that government is run for the benefit of all people in their country. Only a quarter believe that the government is run for the benefit of a few groups. In addition, a majority (55%) of Indians say that ordinary citizens can do a lot to influence their government if they are willing to make the effort, while only about one-in-five (19%) say there is not much ordinary citizens can do to have an impact.

Views on citizens’ power to affect government are linked to the likelihood that people will take action when they are concerned with political issues. In India, those who think that ordinary people are able to influence the government are more likely to say they would be very or somewhat likely to take political action, such as contact elected officials or participate in demonstrations, on a variety of political issues.

Views about the government vary by political party in India. Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party currently in power, are more likely than supporters of the opposition Indian National Congress party to believe that the government is run for the benefit of all people. Still, even among Congress supporters, roughly six-in-ten (62%) think that the government is run for the benefit of all.