Time travel and aliens: Urban Indians expect 2019 to be a classic sci-fi year

Back to the future.
Back to the future.
Image: REUTERS/Stringer
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Urban, educated Indians are harbouring some bizarre beliefs for 2019.

This group of Indians has more faith that time travel could be possible this year than the chance of a stock market crash, according to a survey by global market research company Ipsos.

In fact, the share of people in India who believed time travel was imminent (41%) was higher than in any other country that Ipsos studied, followed by China (36%) and Saudi Arabia (33%).

In total, the Paris-based company surveyed over 21,000 respondents in 31 countries between Dec. 21 and Jan. 09, gauging people’s predictions for 2019. The Indian research was conducted via online surveys of over 500 people who were largely urban, affluent, and educated—a sample that Ipsos is careful to note is “not nationally representative.”

Still, Ipsos’ research indicates that far-out predictions are common among educated Indians. A quarter of those surveyed said they believe they’d discover the existence of ghosts in 2019, and just as many said that aliens were likely to visit the Earth.

Among more conventional predictions, an overwhelming majority predicted the economy would strengthen, artificial intelligence (AI) would be used to disrupt healthcare, and more Indians would spend time on the internet than watching television.

There also seemed to be a sharp increase in respondents who were convinced that global warming is occurring. A total of 79% of Indians surveyed in 2018-19 believed temperatures would rise, while just 68% had believed the same the previous year.

On the matter of whether US president Donald Trump would be impeached, Indian respondents were split, with 36% believing he would, and an equal number saying he wouldn’t, while the rest were undecided.

Below are some of the most significant and surprising predictions that surface in Ipsos’ Indian survey: