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India's New Leadership Faces High Expectations

India's New Leadership Faces High Expectations

by Stafford Nichols and Puneet Singh

Story Highlights

  • Indians' approval of leadership more than doubled
  • Outlook for economy is improving
  • Percentage "suffering" also continued to rise

BANGALORE, INDIA -- Indians' approval of their country's leadership jumped from 30% in 2013 to 63% in 2014 after their new Prime Minister Narendra Modi led his party, the BJP, to a full rout of its main opposition party, the Indian National Congress. But after a wave of victories, the party's first decisive defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections in February suggests growing impatience among Indians whose high hopes for their new leadership and their economy have yet to translate into better lives.

Leadership Approal in India

Touting his experience as the chief minister of the state of Gujarat, Modi has promised to improve India's growth by opening its economy to foreign investments, reducing regulations and increasing privatization.

The Bombay Stock Market SENSEX index jumped in mid-September 2013 when Modi was named the BJP's candidate for prime minister. Since Modi took office in May 2014, the market has risen about 20% to date. India's GDP grew at 5.6% in 2014 and the IMF recently raised its growth estimates for the current fiscal year from 5.8% to 7.2%, and from 6.3% to 7.5% for the coming fiscal year. Indians' outlook for their economy improved along with these conditions. Nearly half of Indians (45%) saw their economy as "getting better," up from 29% in 2013. Likewise, those who felt the economy was getting worse halved from 34% in 2013 to 17% in 2014.

How Indians Rate Their National Economy

Despite these high economic hopes, the percentage of Indians rating their lives poorly enough to be considered "suffering" continued to rise, from 28% in 2013 to 31% in 2014. Gallup classifies respondents as "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering" according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. Those who rate their current and future lives at a 4 or lower are considered suffering.

Life Evaluations Across India

Indians in all three life evaluation categories reported low leadership approval ratings in 2013. In 2014, Indians classified as thriving still have the highest approval rating of their leadership and reported the largest bounce from 2013. Those considered to be suffering continue to approve of leadership the least, and reported the lowest increase in leadership approval ratings.

This gap in approval ratings between the thriving population and suffering population is the largest since 2008, and may suggest polarizing policies. The BJP is known for embracing business-friendly policies, whereas the Congress party is known for a more socially liberal platform. For Modi's government to continue to receive high approval ratings they will need to address the needs of Indians who are suffering.

Approval of Leadership by Life Evaluation


Modi has portrayed himself as the man who can get India's economy growing at its full potential -- a tall order, but one that Indians seem to expect. India reported strong economic figures in the last quarter of 2014, with 7.5% GDP growth and low inflation. Some of these figures were helped by international conditions such as low oil prices, but still, most economists are cautiously optimistic about India's future prospects.

On Feb. 28, Modi's government presented its highly anticipated first annual budget to Parliament. While it did not contain the radical sweeping reforms some called for, it has been warmly received, offering initiatives that appeal to all segments of Indian society. The budget included a corporate tax reduction and calls for replacing the wealth tax. It introduced a universal social security scheme and proposed significant benefits for the poor as well.

The budget also increases spending on infrastructure, the poor condition of which is seen as a leading deterrent in attracting foreign manufacturing investment. With its vast and youthful population, manufacturing could offer economic benefits and jobs to the increasing amount of suffering Indians. Modi now needs to translate Indians' high hopes and economic optimism into real economic growth that benefits all sectors of society.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 3,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in September-October 2014 in India. Before 2014, results are based on face-to-face interviews with approximately 2,000 to 5,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2008-2013 in India. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.4 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works. The data in this article were generated from Gallup Analytics. For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact us.


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