A Pew survey published recently on Indian attitudes shows that nearly half of respondents across the border do not approve of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies concerning Pakistan.
The survey aims to shed light on what Indians think about their country, their government and potential for the future.
Unfavourable view of Pakistan
Although 73pc of respondents appear to have “uniformly negative” view of Pakistan, around 55pc of Indians polled go a step further with a ‘very unfavourable’ opinion towards Pakistan.
The Pew survey says negative Indian sentiment towards Pakistan has risen 9 points since 2015.
The second ‘least popular’ country appears to be China, with 36pc of respondents holding an ‘unfavourable’ opinion of the People’s Republic.
Disapproval of Modi’s Pakistan policies
About half of Indians surveyed take a disapproving stance on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policies.
22pc of respondents, however, approve of his handling of Pak-India ties.
Support for increase in defence spending
More than 60pc of respondents think India should continue increasing defence expenditure, 20pc want to keep it at current levels, whereas just 6pc believe it should be decreased.
“Notably, Indians who see China’s growing military power as a very serious problem are more likely than those who see China’s growing military power as a less serious threat to favour increased military spending,” the Pew report said.
Around 62pc of respondents believe that ‘overwhelming military force’ is the best way to defeat terrorism, whereas only 21pc feel that relying on force creates hatred and more terrorism.
China greatest threat to India’s economy
About 31pc of those surveyed had a favourable opinion of India’s emerging Asian rival, compared to 36pc who had an unfavourable opinion. Positive views towards China have dropped 10 percentage points compared to the previous year.
China’s growing military power is a problem for 69pc of respondents, 46pc of whom believe it is a very serious issue.
Beijing’s ties with Islamabad are also a serious matter of concern for nearly half of all respondents. Another 21pc see Pak-China friendship as a ‘somewhat serious challenge’.
China’s economic impact on India is a ‘serious problem’ for about seven-in-ten of those surveyed, which include 45pc who believe it is ‘very serious’.
“Notably, with regard to problems posed by China, Bharatiya Janata Party adherents are more intensely worried than Congress backers,” the survey said.
IS, climate change among Indians’ top worries
Despite Indians’ ‘serious concerns’ about China and Pakistan, climate change and the militant Islamic State (IS) group are at the top of a list of international threats named by over half of all respondents.
“Few Indians (6pc) dismiss IS outright as a threat, while 13pc see it as a minor challenge for their country and more than twice that number make no judgement,” Pew said.
Also on the list are cyber attacks from other countries, Iraqi and Syrian refugees, tensions with Russia and growing US influence.
The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews with about 2,464 people in the Union Territory of Delhi and in 15 of the 17 most populous states, Kerala and Assam excluded. The research focuses on answering three main questions ─ How India is doing, how Modi is performing, and how Indians see their place in the world.
The complete findings can be accessed here.