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CNN Time poll highlights obstacles in India becoming the superpower

Media Release, September 22

NEW DELHI

With growth in GDP rivalling that of China, a rapidly expanding and increasingly affluent middle class and a firm commitment to democracy, India's future superpower status would seem assured. However, despite some 75 per cent of respondents across India agreeing that the country will become a world superpower within the next 25 years, the results of the latest CNN TIME poll released today reveal that the nation's optimism is far from blind and that certain structural and social issues are very clearly perceived as having the potential to thwart development.

The poll - conducted by leading global market information company TNS, represents the responses of more than 1,000 people across the four key cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata to statements regarding the nation's infrastructure, the government's success in addressing both the rich/poor divide and HIV/AIDS prevention, and the future of one of the country's biggest industry's - 'Bollywood'.

When asked whether India will become a global Superpower within the next 25 years, the answer was a resounding yes from three quarters (75 per cent) of those polled. At its strongest in the financial centres of Mumbai (84 per cent) and Delhi (75 per cent) as compared to the southern city of Chennai (70 per cent) and Kolkata (68 per cent), this belief in India's future status was however tempered by the feeling that the country's infrastructure poses a challenge.

Concerns that infrastructure will ultimately prevent India from becoming a global economic power were expressed by 63 per cent of respondents - notably amongst residents of Mumbai (77 per cent) and Kolkata (67 per cent) - two cities perceived as having poorer infrastructure and in the case of Mumbai the victim of recent flooding blamed in many quarters on the city's infrastructure.

In spite of the disputed official government figure for the number of HIV positive cases in India - currently 5.1 million (estimates put the real figure at around 8.5 million), only a small majority of people believes that the current government is failing in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention. Just 52 per cent of respondents agreed that the government is failing with no significant difference in level of agreement across the four cities surveyed.

Clearly of greater concern to people in India is the work of their Government in tackling the gap between rich and poor - 58 per cent feeling that the issue has not been adequately addressed. The level of disagreement is higher in the more financially developed cities of Delhi (62 per cent) and Mumbai (61 per cent) than in Chennai (55 per cent) and Kolkata (52 per cent), where the socialist state government actively promotes socio-economic parity.

Generating a gross box office last year of nearly 12 billion Rupees - up 29 per cent since 2001, the nation's phenomenal film industry clearly has its supporters and yet the poll found only 41 per cent of respondents to believe that Bollywood would ever surpass Hollywood as the capital of the world's entertainment industry. Revealing a marked divide in opinion, the two cities with the highest stake in the Hindi-centric Bollywood, Delhi and Mumbai, show the highest agreement (54 per cent and 49 per cent respectively) whilst Chennai and Kolkata, with their own Tamil and Bengali film industries, show the lowest levels of agreement (21 per cent and 29 per cent respectively).

Commenting on the poll findings Gautam Nath, Executive Vice President, Corporate Services - TNS India said: "Despite progressive facts and figures by experts, people in the major metros of India have a feeling that the Government has not addressed the rich / poor gap. This feeling has been highlighted by the recent Mumbai floods, which explains the 77% agreement from Mumbai on infrastructure challenges. Concerns like the hike in petroleum prices, power problems, water crisis and rising costs of basic utilities put together makes the people feel the Government has not been active where it should be.

"People in India stand united as a society rather than being catered to by Government support, this was demonstrated earlier this year during the Tsunami disaster and in recent times with other natural calamities. Usually known for its lack of proactiveness and its slow start, the Government needs to prioritise its processes and public image.

"But ultimately it is only wealth that can reduce poverty. Income growth for people in below-world-median income countries has been significantly faster than income growth in the richest countries. India, Indonesia and other large poor countries have also enjoyed faster percentage gains in real income than the rich countries."

This CNN/TIME poll was conducted from September 1st to September 8th, 2005 by leading market research group TNS. Fieldwork was conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. The survey covers a random sample of respondents. Total results are presented at 95% confidence levels with a maximum margin of error of +/- 3.2%

For further information please contact:

Andrew Davison, Research Director, TNS Hong Kong

Tel: +852 2516 6650 or email: andrew.davison@tns-global.com

Inez Ho, Director, Public Relations, CNN Asia Pacific

Tel: +852 3128-3538 or email: inez.ho@turner.com

Azmar Sukandar, Senior Manager, Public Affairs, TIME Asia

Tel: +852/3128-5185 or email: azmar_sukandar@timeinc.com

Sarah Burrows, Communiqué

Tel: +852 2850 5990 or email: sarah@communiquehk.com