WASHINGTON: A new poll conducted among people in more than 23 countries showed that India is generally viewed favourably by the world. The poll also found that while most Indians said their country’s global influence has grown stronger in recent years, the rest of the world disagreed, and either saw no change in India’s standing or saw it get weaker.
At home in India, the 24th country polled for this survey, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a commanding double-digit lead over his key challenger for premiership, Rahul Gandhi of the Congress. The multi-nation poll was conducted by the Pew Research Center to assess India’s image in the world in the year of India’s presidency of the G-20, whose leaders will congregate in a few days in New Delhi for their annual summit.
Pew polled 28,250 people in 23 countries between March and May, and 2,611 in India, over phone and Internet and in face-to-face interviews. The survey report released on Tuesday showed that a median of 46 per cent of the respondents held a favourable view of India and a median of 34 per cent held an unfavorable view.
Views about India were most positive in Israel (71 per cent), followed by the United Kingdom (66 per cent), Kenya (6 per cent), Nigeria (60 per cent), South Korea (58 per cent), (Japan (55 per cent), Australia (52 per cent), the United States (51 per cent) and Canada (47 per cent). Holding a positive view of India did not, however, translate to believing India’s global clout is growing.
Only 29 per cent of the Israelis, 34 per cent of the respondents in the UK, 32 per cent in Japan and 23 per cent in the US said India’s clout has grown in recent years. In contrast, 68 per cent of Indians polled for the survey said their country’s global influence has grown in recent times. Countries that did not view India positively were led surprisingly by South Africa (51 per cent saw India unfavorably), the Netherlands (48 per cent), Spain (49 per cent) and Austria (45 per cent).
In India, Prime Minister Modi turned in a chartbusting lead of 17 percentage points over Rahul Gandhi with 79 per cent to 62 per cent; he was also way ahead of other Congress leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. The poll was started just before Rahul Gandhi was removed from the Parliament for his conviction in a defamation case (he has since been reinstated) and wrapped up before the Karnataka election results that gave a new thrust to the Congress party and its leader.
This poll may not be an updated reflection of the mood in India, having been conducted three months and many critical developments ago. In other findings of the survey, Indians said they believed both the US and Russia — and they had a positive view of the country and its leader Vladimir Putin — had grown in influence in recent years. Four in 10 Indians said they felt China’s influence has grown stronger in contrast to three in 10 who said it has become weaker.
Views about Pakistan were predictably hostile. About seven in 10 Indians have an unfavorable view of Pakistan, with 57 per cent of them being very unfavorable towards Pakistan. Merely 19% Indians have a favorable view of their western neighbors.
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