Judging India’s global influence

Net positive (and a lot of fence sitters)

Thanks to the wonderful people out there at WorldPublicOpinion.org, we know that 22 of the 32 countries surveyed view India’s influence on world affairs as a net positive. That was better than what China, Russia and the United States could manage. Only Argentina, Brazil, France, Finland, Philippines and South Korea believe otherwise.

Countries which viewed Indian influence most favourably were Iran, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The survey was conducted in December 2005, after India voted to refer Iran’s nuclear weapons programme to the UN Security Council. The Iranian people didn’t seem to mind, something that Indian politicians and pundits would do well to note. Indians for their part seem to be equivocal about Iran, with a quarter for, a quarter against and the rest in the middle.

Though India’s global profile has grown significantly over the last year, it fails to elicit strong feelings. On average 35 percent give it a positive rating, 25 percent give it a negative rating and 41 percent do not answer one way or another.

Interestingly, Indians themselves are the most tepid or modest in their self-estimates. While in most countries a large majority give their country a positive rating, among Indians only 47 percent give India a positive rating, but only 10 percent give it a negative rating. [WorldPublicOpinion.org]

The moral of the story is for the rest of the world to get off the fence, Indians themselves should get off it first.

Update: DNA has an editorial on this survey and makes it argument for increasing ‘soft power’. Mistaking popularity for power in international relations is a common mistake. See this post from the archives on soft power, hard reality.

6 thoughts on “Judging India’s global influence”

  1. I wonder how India would have fared if this poll was taken during the cold war days when India was seen as the ‘leader’ of the third world countries.

    IMO the positive rating would have been much higher than the present 35% with hardly any negative ratings.

  2. Over 50% of the Indians don’t seem to have a positive thing to say about India’s influence on world affairs. I do see the politicians seeing this as an excuse to largely ignore world affairs in the next 18 months or so… and showering upon us their populist scraps!

  3. It’s intersteing that indians viewed all countries more or less equally positive, while the europeans (save the british) where largley negative about all countris that wasn’t rich. The french where, not very surprisingly, the worst of them all.

  4. It is surprising that South Korea and Finland have a negative perception of India. Have to remember not to buy Nokia, Samsung or Hyundai the next time I go shopping for mobiles, TVs and cars

  5. Kannan, no more wine from the European snobs either 🙂

    “among Indians only 47 percent give India a positive rating”

    I wonder why this is. Something to do with we being constantly told that we’re third rate for last two or three generations now.

  6. One thing struck me about the countries that rated India least favourably: they are not English speaking countries (partial exception is the Philippines).

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