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What do Indian voters really want?

March 27, 2019 08:03 IST

In the run-up to the polls, a survey has revealed that better employment opportunities is the single most important issue for citizens and that the government has fared below average in this aspect.

IMAGE: A worker displays T-shirts with images West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi for sale inside a shop at a market ahead of India's general election, in Kolkata. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

What do voters want out of their government?

How has the Narendra Modi-led government fared?

These are some of the questions that non-government organisation Association for Democratic has asked in their latest survey and the answer may stump you.

 

According to the survey of over 2.7 lakh voters across India, better jobs is the only one thing most voters want. And when it comes to how the government has fared -- the results aren't that great. Respondents in the survey have given the ruling party an average rating of 2.15-2.55 out of 5.

As per the All India Survey 2018, better employment opportunities (46.8 per cent), better health care (34.6 per cent) and drinking water (30.5 per cent) are the top three voters’ priorities at the all India level, followed by better roads (28.34 per cent) and better public transport (27.35 per cent) at the fourth and the fifth place, respectively. 

"Across all divides -- gender, age, social categories, rural and urban, and wealth groups -- Indian voters have rated better employment opportunities as their highest priority,” according to the report. “This is hardly surprising given the phase of jobless growth that India has been witnessing, under both United Progressive Alliance-II and National Democratic Alliance. An assessment by the National Sample Survey Office shows that India's unemployment rate rose to a 45-year high during the year 2017-18.

Notably, agricultural related governance issues featured predominantly in the all India top 10 voters' priorities --availability of water for agriculture (26.4 per cent) that was ranked sixth, agriculture loan availability (25.62 per cent) that was ranked seventh, higher price realisation for farm products (25.41 per cent) that was ranked eighth, and agriculture subsidy for seeds/fertilisers (25.06 per cent) that was ranked ninth.

The survey also revealed that the significance of better employment opportunities as voter’s highest priority has increased by 56.67 per cent from 30 per cent in 2017 to 47 per cent in 2018.

For rural voters, better job opportunities was the main issue. Strength of the defence or military was very low on the list, concerning only 3.02 per cent respondents, while terrorism got 3.34 per cent. However, these levels were higher in urban areas. Urban voters who gave terrorism and military strength more importance were 4.1 per cent and 5.18 per cent respectively.

The ADR survey also asked respondents to rate how the government had fared on the issues faced by citizens of the nation.

The performance score of the government on the jobs front was below average with a score of 2.15 out of 5. The other top two voters' priorities, better healthcare (2.35) and drinking water (2.52) were also rated as below average. In fact, all of the top 10 voter's priorities were rated below average.

The worst performance of the government, as rated by the voters, was on the issues of encroachment of public lands, lakes etc (1.05), terrorism (1.15), training for jobs (1.16), strong defence/military (1.22), eradication of corruption (1.37), lower food prices for consumers and mining/quarrying.

This is the third in a series of surveys by ADR. The first survey was conducted before the 2014 elections, the second in 2016-17 and now the third in October-December 2018. "All point to the fact that voters' priorities have remained unaddressed by the governments in power. A look at the key findings of All India Survey 2018 highlights the fact that the voters' expectations have clearly not been met," the report said.

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