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In charts: What Asian countries think of Narendra Modi and India

AP Photo /Manish Swarup
How did he get so popular?
By Devjyot Ghoshal
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Despite Narendra Modi’s relentless globetrotting since he became India’s prime minister last year, his popularity in the Asia-Pacific region is somewhat underwhelming.

A new Pew Research Center survey—which polled 5,313 people in 10 Asia-Pacific countries and the US between April and March 2015—found that only 39% of respondents had confidence in Modi’s handling of foreign policy.

That’s because “a relatively high proportion of respondents voice no opinion, a testimony to Modi’s low public profile in the region,” Bruce Stokes, Pew Research Center’s director of global economic attitudes, wrote.

In comparison, 47% respondents thought that Chinese president Xi Jinping would “do the right thing regarding world affairs.” Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe had the confidence of 43% of those polled.

“Asia-Pacific publics have more mixed views about each other’s leaders, in part due to their lack of familiarity with them,” Stokes explained.

Each of the 10 Asia-Pacific countries view the three leaders in very different light, ranging from Xi’s unusually high popularity in Malaysia to Pakistan’s expected aversion for Modi.

(Zero implies that responses from people in the leader’s country were not included.)

Still, the Indian prime minister didn’t have the backing of more than 60% of respondents in any country, unlike his Chinese and Japanese counterparts.

“Modi’s greatest support outside of India is among younger Vietnamese (60%),” Pew Research Center’s Stokes noted.

Overall, India’s popularity, too, is lacklustre. Here is the country-wise breakup of what exactly the nations in the region think of each other:

But there’s a silver lining: Young Asians are quite captivated by India.

“About seven-in-ten Vietnamese ages 18 to 29 (72%) have a favorable view of the world’s second-most-populous and fastest-growing large economy, as do 67% of young Japanese,” Stokes wrote. “This compares with 77% of young Americans who see India favorably.”

Not unexpectedly, the respondents that hold the most unfavourable view of India are older Pakistanis, with 80% of those polled making clear their disdain.

“These are people who experienced, or whose parents experienced, the traumatic 1947 partition of India and Pakistan,” Stokes added.

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