Prayer over votes: Indians value religious freedom over democratic principles, finds survey

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November 19, 2015

Washington: While more than eight in ten Indians consider religious freedom as very important, surprisingly fewer than half deem honest competitive elections as important in the world's largest democracy, according to a new survey.

November 19, 2015

Washington: While more than eight in ten Indians consider religious freedom as very important, surprisingly fewer than half deem honest competitive elections as important in the world's largest democracy, according to a new survey.

Washington based think tank Pew Research Centre's survey of 40786 adults in 38 countries conducted between 5 April to 21 May 2015 found that there is a broad support for the basic tenets of democracy across the world.

Majorities in nearly all the countries polled said it was at least somewhat important to live in a country with free speech, a free press and freedom on the internet. And across the 38 countries, global medians of 50 percent or more consider these freedoms very important.

In all 38 nations surveyed, majorities say it is at least somewhat important to live in a country with religious freedom, a free press, free speech and competitive elections.

Freedom of religion emerged as an especially significant principle. Across the countries polled, a median of 74 percent say it is very important for people to be free to practice their religion. Americans are also among the most supportive of religious freedom with 84 percent in the US saying it is very important.

As far as elections were considered, across the 38 nations in the study, a median of 61 percent think it is very important to have honest, competitive elections with the choice of at least two political parties. "However, there are five nations where fewer than half deem this very important: India, Tanzania, Pakistan, Indonesia and Vietnam," the survey found.

The survey noted that more than eight-in-ten Pakistanis, Indians and Indonesians described religious freedom as very important, compared with just 24 percent in Japan, the lowest share among the countries surveyed. 83 percent Indians consider it very important that people can practice their religion freely as against a global median of 74 per cent.

Some other interesting statistics that the survey brought are that nearly three in four Indians (71 percent) believe women have the same rights as men as against a global median of 65 percent. Half (49 percent) think honest elections are held regularly with choice of at least two parties compared to a global median of 61 percent.

About 44 percent Indians believe people can say what they want without censorship as against a global median of 56 percent, while 41 percent think media can report news without censorship compared with a global median of 55 percent. About 38 percent Indians believe people can use the internet without censorship as against a global median of 50 percent.


Courtesy: IANS