By Anushka Shah and Roohi Bhatia
Trust in police
Democracy requires a level of trust between citizens and government. For citizens to fulfil their duties – vote, pay taxes – and to further hold public institutions accountable, necessitates faith in the ability of those institutions to prove, improve and evolve. Research suggests that when this trust in government is low, civic participation suffers, and ultimately so does the quality of democracy.
In India, the police – one of the most frequent points of interaction between citizens and government – face a large trust deficit. For many, the sight of khaki can invoke a sense of trepidation rather than relief. This is especially true for people from disadvantaged communities- migrants, women, Dalits, Muslims, and sexual minorities who live within smaller networks of resources and privilege.
Psychological research indicates that there are two keys ways in which our trust of government and public institutions get shaped. The first from what we rationally see of their track record (‘trusting from the head’), and the second from our emotion towards them (‘trusting from the heart’). While our rational understanding is often mediated via real life experiences or news facts, entertainment media can play a powerful role in shaping our emotional perceptions. Several studies have proven that characters we see on screen influence our own thought and behaviour.