WINNING

Narendra Modi’s most popular move so far: Sending millions of Indians to the toilet

Obsession
Modi's Moment
Quartz india
Obsession
Modi's Moment
Quartz india

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s most popular move since coming to power seems to be his mission to send Indians to the loo.

A new Pew Research Centre study, which polled 2,452 respondents between April 6 and May 19, has found that 71% approve of Modi’s plan to improve access to toilets.

Modi had launched an ambitious Clean India campaign on Oct. 2 last year, which includes providing access to a toilet at every school and house in the country by 2019. It will entail building around 60 million toilets nationwide.

In the 2015 financial year, the government built 5.8 million toilets, according to data from the ministry of drinking water & sanitation. This fiscal, up to Sept. 17, another 3.4 million toilets were built.

Such is the allure of Modi’s toilet crusade, among other issues, that even those who support the opposition Congress party can’t help but back the prime minister on this mission.

Party-wise split of respondents who approve of Modi’s initiatives
Initiative BJP Congress
Access to clean toilets 74% 66%
Unemployment 69% 62%
Terrorism 71% 56%
Helping the poor 67% 61%
Rising prices 65% 61%
Corruption 65% 56%
Communal relations 57% 47%

Economic satisfaction

Overall, 87% of those surveyed expressed confidence in Modi’s leadership, including his handling of the economy.

“Public satisfaction with the way things are going in India has nearly doubled in less than two years. In 2013, just 29% of Indians were happy with the direction of their country. In 2015, 56% express satisfaction,” Bruce Stokes, director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center wrote. “And this approval of the overall trajectory of the nation is shared across party lines, generations and gender.”

What Indians think about the country and the economy in 2015
Satisfied with the direction of the country 56%
Think the current state of economy is good 74%
Believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months 74%

Although there is much more enthusiasm about the economy now—currently 74% think the economy is in a good place, compared to 57% who thought similarly in 2013—there are significant regional disparities.

“Roughly eight-in-ten Indians (82%) living in the western part of the country—the states of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Maharashtra—believe economic conditions are good,” Stokes noted. “Just 66% of those living in the north—the states of Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh—agree.”

But there’s a limit to the optimism, and Indians are increasingly worried about the quality of their air, healthcare and education. The most persistent problem, however, is an old one: crime.

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