| Children watch television. File picture
London, June 15: A survey of global reading habits has come up with an amazing result ' India has come out on top.
Researchers from the National Opinion Poll contacted 30,000 people in 30 countries and compared how much time they spent watching television as against reading.
The West is starting to realise that India has become an intellectual powerhouse churning out hundreds of thousands of graduates, especially in the sciences ' and this survey seems to confirm that somehow Indians and books go together.
India came top of the global reading chart with 10.7 hours per week per head ' 4.2 hours higher than the global average.
In Britain, there is concern, as there is throughout the western world, that television is encouraging a generation of couch potatoes, brought up on American programming. Britons, for example, spend more time in front of the television and less time reading than other Europeans, the survey shows.
The average person in the UK watches 18 hours of TV each week, which is worse than France, Spain, Germany and Italy. By contrast, Britons spend just 5.3 hours per week reading, which is less than their European counterparts. At 18 hours per week Britons watch 1.4 hours more TV per week than the global average.
US trends are similar to the UK, with Americans spending 19 hours watching TV each week and only 5.7 hours reading.
In France, people watch an average 17.3 hours per week compared with Spain at 15.9, Germany at 15.2 and Italy at 14.9.
The NOP researchers asked people aged 13 and above in each country how long they spent per week watching TV, listening to the radio, reading and using a computer for non-work activities. Only people in Brazil, Taiwan, Japan and Korea read less than those in the UK.
In Italy, people spend an average 5.6 hours per week reading compared with 5.7 per week in Germany, 5.8 in Spain and 6.9 in France.
The research was carried out by market research group NOP World as part of its annual study of consumer attitudes, values and behaviours. NOP World spokesman Nick Chiarelli said increased non-work computer use was cutting the amount of time which people around the world spent doing other things.
From the Indian perspective, Britain has been associated with books, scholarships and a land to which generations of Indians have proceeded for higher scholarships.
But things are changing or have already changed in the UK ' for the worse. Chiarelli said: “From a UK perspective, it is perhaps not surprising that we rank so high in terms of television. Watching TV has always been a popular leisure pastime in this country ' but it is quite concerning how far we lag behind many other countries in terms of how much we read.”
Chiarelli explained to The Telegraph: “There is a point of context. We are trying to represent urban, upscale India. We don’t interview rural populations or subsistence level populations, of which there will be quite a lot in India. Our view is that India stacks up very well, there is striving for self-improvement in India and reading is one way of doing that.”
Chiarelli added that there had been substantial resources put into education in India. “And this is payback time.” As far as TV watching was concerned, “India comes fourth from bottom. The global average is 22 hours”.