Our Bureau

New Delhi, Jan. 18

BUSINESS leaders are widely held in better esteem than their political counterparts whose credibility appears to be declining.

While business leaders around the world consistently have a better image than political leaders, significant proportions still criticise both sets of leaders on different criteria, with dishonesty being heavily associated with political leaders, says a Voice of the People survey by Gallup International released just ahead of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland from January 25- 29, which will see over 2,200 leaders from business, politics and civil society convene under the theme, `The Creative Imperative'.

The survey involved 50,000 interviews carried out in over 60 countries representing opinions of one-fifth of the world population. The criticism of business leaders was mainly concentrated on two aspects: That they respond to pressure from people more powerful than they are, and they have too much power and responsibility.

However, business leaders were consistently rated more positively than political leaders, with dishonesty as the primary criticism of the latter group.

Commenting on the survey findings, Mr Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman and Founder of the World Economic Forum, said in a statement "As the World Economic Forum prepares to meet for its Annual Meeting in Davos, the leaders present can hardly ignore such a comprehensive worldwide survey. The meeting is being held under the theme "The Creative Imperative" and it is clear that leaders must creatively address their collective shortcomings if we are to restore faith in global leadership."

Asians upbeat:

The survey also found that respondents in the Middle East, Africa and Asia especially in China, were upbeat on global economic prospects, while in Europe and the US they were less optimistic.

On the question of whether the next generation would live in a safer world, respondents' responses were mixed. While one-third (35 per cent) thought that the world would be a lot or a little safer, only a slightly lower proportion (30 per cent) felt that it would be a lot or a little less safe.

Regionally, Asia and Africa were more upbeat about the next generations' safety with 45 per cent and 48 per cent respectively feeling the next generation will live in a world that is a lot or a little safer, while Western Europe was the most pessimistic region in the world about future prospects for safety.

Interestingly, the region that has faced many a conflict in recent times - the Middle East - was more upbeat about prospects of future safety, with a quarter of those interviewed (24 per cent) feeling it will be a safer world, compared with one in three (30 per cent) who felt the opposite.

Respondents were finally asked what they think the priorities should be for global leaders. Globally, citizens wanted leaders to focus on encouraging economic growth and improving the global economy (17 per cent), closing the gap between rich and poor countries (16 per cent), protecting the environment (14 per cent), and eliminating extreme poverty and hunger (12 per cent) and the war on terrorism (10 per cent).

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 19, 2006)
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