March 31, 2014

Key findings about India ahead of its national election

On the eve of their parliamentary election, a new poll finds Indians are disgruntled about the state of their nation, deeply worried about a range of problems facing their society and supportive of new leadership in New Delhi. However, they remain fairly upbeat about the economic prospects for both India and the next generation.

Notwithstanding recent high-profile official frictions with the United States, the Indian public has a generally positive view of America. Meanwhile, Indians are divided in their opinions about the world’s rising superpower: China. And they remain deeply wary of Pakistan, although they would like to see Indo-Pakistani relations improve. Here are five key findings from the Pew Research Center’s recent survey of the Indian public’s mood in the run up to the April 7 election:

Rural Indians favor BJPRural Indians prefer the BJP, despite Congress’ long ties to the rural poor. The Congress party has long drawn much of its support from rural Indians and has pursued policies to solidify that backing, such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the National Food Security program, both of which Indians overwhelmingly favor. Nevertheless, rural Indians favor the BJP, not Congress, to lead the next government by more than three-to-one (64% to 18%), roughly the same proportion as favor the BJP in urban areas.

Young Indians favor BJP partyYoung Indians think the BJP is best suited to deal with India’s problems. By roughly three-to-one Indians ages 18 to 29 say the BJP will do a better job combatting corruption, creating jobs, curbing inflation, reducing terrorism, helping the poor and ending political gridlock.

Indians despair about their nation’s direction but they still have hope for the economy. By more than two-to-one Indians think India is headed in the wrong direction. But a majority (57%) say the economy is good, despite slow growth. Six-in-ten (62%) expect the economy to improve in the next 12 months. And 64% think today’s children will be better off as adults than the current generation.

Indians are wary of China, supportive of USAIndians favor America over China. When considering the two superpowers, Indians have a more favorable view of the U.S. (56%) than of China (35%), despite the controversial arrest late last year  of India’s female deputy consul general in New York on charges of visa fraud. By two-to-one, Indians are more likely to see China, not the United States, as a major threat. And by more than four-to-one they say it is more important to have strong ties with America than with China.

Indians dislike and fear Pakistan, but they want to try to improve relations. Seven-in-ten (71%) have an unfavorable view of Pakistan. And roughly nine-in-ten Indians think Pakistan is a serious threat to their country, with fully 80% saying it is a very serious threat. Nevertheless, nearly two-thirds (64%) say that it is important to improve relations with Islamabad. And 53% favor further talks between India and Pakistan to try to reduce tensions.


Topics: Asia and the Pacific, World Elections

  1. Photo of Bruce Stokes

    is director of global economic attitudes at Pew Research Center.


  1. B p Shenoy3 years ago

    Research looks solid America should have realised potential of modi long back and built bridges instead of treating him like pariah and not granting visa now with Bjp scenting power indo Us relations will start on the wrong foot if China willing to help in FDI then border problem will also be solved let’s hope for the best

  2. Kumar3 years ago

    The favorable opinion of Indians won’t last if US continues it support to activities of ford foundation, sonia etc.

  3. Global Netizen3 years ago

    Historically, US policies towards India have been completely misguided since the time of Nixon and Kissinger. It forced India to give up its non-aligned policy and tilt towards USSR and thereafter Russia. You really have to read the books like ‘Blood Telegram’ to completely understand the scale of mis-handling of relationship with India by US leadership. It also caused at least a generation or two of Indians to distrust US.
    This survey outcome points to the improvement in that mindset during last 20 odd years due to increased business and people to people contact.
    But as one other commenter pointed out – Obama government (I consider myself a democrat by the way) has squandered an opportunity to built upon that goodwill in last six years. On top of that – there are misguided efforts that are on bring a prohibitive visa regime which will hurt the IT industry which is so critical for India. The US govt instead should be focusing on job creation in manufacturing by creating proper incentives for the businesses back home. That will have much more impact on unemployment – because that’s the skill which is finding hard to get employment in US.
    No. of displaced workers in IT which while being small will also have more opportunities if the manufacturing comes back to US. Needless to add in the context of the article – it will save the US-India relationship, strengthen it further and jointly allow them to counter China on the economic stage.

  4. Mazo3 years ago

    Barack Obama is the USA’s greatest disappointment in a decade. Apart from the color of his skin, he has added nothing to his office that is of any merit. His administration is filled with only those less competent than himself making his policy internationally myopic and naive. Everything from his Afghan policy, to his administration’s dalliance with Pakistan, to his handling of the Middle East has affected India adversely time and time again. Indians “like” the USA DESPITE the USA’s best efforts and this has been abused by the US State Department and the US Administration with neglect and apathy. In the final analysis, India will always be a nation that is too far, too alien and too messy for most of the Anglicized Americans to identify with like they do with Europe or Israel. At best, the USA would hope to see India as another Asian “ally” that does what they tell them it to.

  5. Mazo3 years ago

    US aid to Pakistan since 2002 has been OVER $10 BILLION in “military” aid alone, which excludes the usual humanitarian, developmental, healthcare aid the US and its NGOs provide to Pakistan. It’s remarkable that the USA continues this largess in furnishing Pakistan with weapons, fighter aircraft, etc and yet Indians continues to look favorably towards the USA.

  6. powerandprivilege3 years ago

    USA needs an overhaul of its foreign policy. Instead of unconditional support and $2 billion in aid for Islamist Pakistan, it should build better relations with India. Economic cooperation and mutual respect are the only way forward for the two SECULAR democracies.

  7. Jeremy Irons3 years ago

    GO USA ! GO INDIA. The American model of capitalism, tolerance, equality, freedoms and prosperity is exemplary if not perfect. A stronger American position on world affairs is both desirable and expected. In reality, differences are going to remain for a while. India is a country still heavily dependent on Russia for its defence, Iran for its oil. Pakistan is an existential threat to India while Pakistan is a US ally in war on terror and a recipient of US arms and aid. These contradictions are going to persist for a while.

  8. Raj Panigrahi3 years ago

    What is particularly true – and deeply unfortunate – is that Obama has squandered 6 years in trying to strengthen the bridges George Bush built (and started by Bill Clinton) with India. Narendra Modi is almost certainly the next Prime Minister of India – and is a strong right-wing, pro-business, hard-line conservative. He is ideologically quite the opposite of Obama. I suspect that Obama will be even less likely to entertain India with Modi at the helm. America’s general indifference to India is misguided and unfortunate – because India is a trust-worthy, dependable and strong potential ally that actually likes America (see the poll above). Yet America spurns India for the most part, yet coddles and cozies with the worst actors globally – Pakistan, Egypt, etc – countries that despise America but will stick their hands out for the American dole with a fake smile.

    1. Arun3 years ago

      So true. I could have commented this myself. Just one thing I would add. US Relationship with India is both people to people and govt to govt and hence more stable. Where as US relationship with ilks of Pakistan, Sauds, Egypt is just govt to govt, designed as tools of diplomacy and inherently unstable.