A year after being elected the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi's popularity has seen a tremendous rise from that before the elections last year, shows a survey by Pew Research Center among 2,452 Indians from April 6 to May 2015. Also, it is not only his party's core voters who are cheering for him; Modi is also drawing favourable views and issue-based support from other parties' followers.
Nearly 87 per cent of the respondents have favourable views of Modi, compared with 78 per cent in 2013, before last year's general elections. The survey, conducted in 15 states and Delhi, excluded Kerala, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the Northeast. (MODI MORE POPULAR AS PRIME MINISTER)
The government has lately been dubbed by some as anti-farmer, mainly on account of farmer suicides and its land acquisition Bill, but the survey shows both Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) command a wide support in rural India as well. While 89 per cent of the people surveyed in rural India hold favourable views of the PM, 66 per cent say they support Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi. In urban India, the split for Modi and Gandhi is 84 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively.
Happy with the economy
On the economic front, more than half the country seems happy with the direction India's economy has taken under Modi. The proportion of respondents satisfied with the economy has risen to 74 per cent under the current government, from 52 per cent in 2013, when the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power.
National pride and international relations
While many have been attacking Modi for his frequent visits abroad and questioning those at a time when, they believe, pressing domestic issues need his attention, the overall opinion suggests otherwise.
While 66 per cent of people approve of his efforts to improve relations with the US, 13 per cent disapprove and the rest are ambivalent. And, the bulk of them hold positive views of US President Barack Obama, the research firm says. For Modi's handling of ties with China and Russia, the support is 39 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively. Pakistan, though, has proved a difficult neighbour; while 25 per cent people are happy with the handling of relations with that country, 50 per cent are unhappy, and 25 per cent ambivalent.
The country's popularity globally, especially in Asia might not have seen a significant rise of late. Another Pew Research survey had earlier this month shown Japan as the most favourable country in the Asia-Pacific region, while India had stood third. China was second.
Beyond party lines
The survey focused on opinions on three major parties in India - BJP, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). It reveals Modi is popular among supporters of the Congress and AAP, too. While 74 per cent Congress followers hold favourable opinion of him, 87 per cent of AAP supporters are positive.
Many Congress followers also support the Modi-led government on key issues like access to clean toilets, unemployment, price rise, terrorism, corruption, etc. However, when it comes to dealing with communal relations, the government gets a less favourable rating. "Distrust remains, perhaps in parts, because incidents of communal violence were up by nearly a quarter in the first five months of 2015 against a comparable period in 2014," Pew Research says.
In a sign of the prime minister's popularity across age groups, the proportion of respondents with positive views of him is 91 per cent in the 18-29 year age bracket, 85 per cent in the 30-49 year group and 88 per cent among seniors more than 60 years old.
Rahul Gandhi also liked
Popularity of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has also increased from 2013, in both rural and urban areas. Also, the rate of increase in his popularity is high at 12 percentage points, compared with Modi's nine.
Despite a wider confidence in the current government, people are concerned about some domestic problems, too. Of the 13 national challenges listed by Pew Research, 93 per cent are concerned about rising crimes, 87 per cent about unemployment, 87 per cent about rising prices of commodities, 77 per cent about quality of schools, and 74 per cent about pollution.