‘One of the most important findings for India is the real gap in trust in businesses – which is quite high – and trust in government – which is quite low. The big change is the rise in trust in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which is a direct outcome of a lack of confidence in government,’ said Richard Edelman, president and chief executive of the world’s largest independent public relations firm, Edelman, while sharing findings of 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer.

The Trust Barometer is a study to research upon the trust and credibility among business, government, media and NGOs.

In an interview wiht Mint, Edelman said that the trust trend in India is very different from, say, Brazil and China. In China, the trust in government is higher than it is in business. It points to a potential real risk for this country because in most of the rest of the world there is a real correlation between trust in business and trust in government.

Sharing perspective on NGOs, he said that unlike their counterparts in other markets, Indian NGOs have always had trouble asserting their credibility.

‘I think that NGOs globally have become super brands. They, in effect, have the same weight that a major consumer product would. A smart NGO will be more transparent about funding and accountability,’ said Edelman.

‘Also, I think NGOs have to progress from throwing rocks at the companies to actually forging solutions. So, a good example would be the Rainforest Alliance, an NGO focused on conservation of biodiversity and sustainability, partnering Chiquita Brands International Inc., a producer and distributor of bananas and other produce, to grow bananas in a more sustainable way. That is a win-win,’ he added.

Edelman also remarked that Indian businesses have started distinguishing between charity and corporate social responsibility (CSR). He said businesses are putting sustainability into actual running of the business. It is no longer something they do for fun or charity.

‘We do it because it is smart business. The idea that green equals green (money), that we can make more money by being eco. That we can save on use of water or the use of electricity, all of this is going to make your product price-competitive. It is now beyond CSR; it is really the idea that makes businesses positive environmental and social actors,’ said Edelman.

As per the Edelman Trust Barometer, the ratings for trust in business and trust in government in India have remained almost the same over the last four years – one is high in the 70s and the other quite low in the 40s.

Edelman said that the study was done before the Indian media started reporting about the corruption charges being levelled against senior politicians and businessmen. In the next study, he expects to see a further decline in trust in business and a further decline of trust in government.