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If trust breaks down, a society cannot survive

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Imagine going to a restaurant, ordering a meal, paying for it, expecting to be served and then discovering that neither the dishes you ordered, nor anything else that you fancy, are available. Imagine if the person managing the place also tells that you can’t have your money back since he does not have change, and that you can come back the next day for your meal. Or imagine the reverse — that you are a restaurant owner and a customer refuses to pay after having had a meal.

Luckily, this does not happen often because there is tacit trust between a consumer and a service provider and both parties respect the deal that something that has been consumed has to be paid for, and vice versa.

As we know from our day-to-day experience, without a degree of trust, no economic transaction is possible.

Trust lies at the heart of today’s complex global economy.

Prosperous countries often tend to be those where business relations between people can be conducted on the basis of trust, such as Germany, Japan and (perhaps surprisingly) the United States, as political scientist Francis Fukuyama famously argued in his 1996 bestseller Trust: The Social Virtues And The Creation Of Prosperity: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order.

One should not have to reaffirm such first principles. But recent statements by several public figures, including a former Prime Minister, zeroing in on how mistrust is corroding not only the social fabric but also the health of the economy, tells you how critical it is to address the issue.

In a widely talked about commentary in a........

© Deccan Chronicle