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India's leadership unknown to almost half the world: Survey

Last updated on: December 2, 2010 09:13 IST

Image: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

As New Delhi seeks to cement its place as a world leader with its bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, a survey released on Wednesday said that the Indian leadership is not known to almost half the world.

Nearly half of the world's residents surveyed (44 per cent) don't know enough about the country's leadership to have an opinion, and the rest are mixed. Across 110 countries surveyed in 2009, a median of 22 per cent approve of India's leadership and a median of 27 per cent disapprove, the Gallup, a public opinion research group, said in a statement.


Most Americans have no opinion on Indian leaders

Image: Dr Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur with US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle

More than half of the people in the former Soviet Union, the Americas and Europe don't have an opinion about India's leadership, it said, adding that this may be understandable given their distance from India, but many in Asia also don't have an opinion.

Overall, residents in sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa region are more likely to express opinions about India's leadership, the survey said.


66% Pakistanis disapprove of India's leadership

Image: Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani shakes hands with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna
Photographs: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

According to the survey, in some of its immediate neighbours such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, India's leadership is relatively unknown.

However, many of those in the region who have an opinion -- including those in other G20 economies -- tend to approve rather than disapprove, which may be conducive for India as it seeks to expand economic and strategic partnerships, particularly in Afghanistan and East Asia.

In the immediate neighbourhood, India gets the highest approval rating in Afghanistan (54 per cent), followed by Sri Lanka (48 per cent), Bangladesh (46 per cent) and Singapore (44 per cent).

As expected, as many as 66 per cent of those surveyed in Pakistan disapproved of Indian leadership, while only seven per cent approved of it.

"India's challenge is a given in Pakistan, where the two-thirds who disapprove of India's leadership bespeak frosty relations and historical rivalry," said Gallup.

But India's leadership also faces challenges in other places where those who disapprove outnumber those who approve such as in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. "The high percentages in these countries with no opinion, however, may be a positive for India; some people's views may still be malleable," Gallup said.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 87% approve of US leadership

Image: Sub-Saharan Africans give higher approval to the US and China
Photographs: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

India's leadership earns some of its highest marks in sub-Saharan Africa, where residents historically tend to give relatively positive ratings to foreign leadership.

Sub-Saharan Africans' 46 pre cent median approval of India's leadership, however, is far lower than the 87 per cent median approval they give to US leadership and the 65 per cent for China's leadership. This lower approval could be a factor as India attempts to increase its influence in sub-Saharan Africa, the Gallup survey said.

Disapproval in Middle East

Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

India's leadership earns some of its highest disapproval ratings in the Middle East and North Africa region, but opinions are more mixed or favourable in some Arab Gulf countries with sizable Indian expat populations.

"In the United Arab Emirates, for example, where nearly 2 million Indians line, nearly one-third of the population approves and one-third disapproves of India's leadership. It's important to note that only Arab nationals and Arab expats were surveyed in Gulf states, so these opinions don't include those of Indian expats," Gallup said.