New Delhi: Around 49 per cent of Indian Americans approve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s performance, a survey in the US has found.
According to the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey (IAAS) released Tuesday, most of those who backed Modi voted Republican, are Hindus, mostly engineers and not born in the US.
The survey stated that seven in ten Hindu Indian Americans approved of Modi while only one in five Muslims did the same. Respondents belonging to other faiths are somewhat divided.
Most of the Modi backers also hailed from North and West India.
Further, 32 per cent of Indian Americans support the BJP, 12 per cent identify with the Congress and the rest back other parties, according to the survey.
While 49 per cent of Indian Americans favourably rate Modi’s performance, 31 per cent disapprove and 20 per cent expressed no opinion, the survey found.
The survey was conducted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the University of Pennsylvania, in partnership with polling firm YouGov. It was held between 1 and 20 September 2020, before the November election declared Joe Biden as president.
“Empirically speaking, relatively little is known about Indian Americans’ attitudes toward India largely due to a lack of systematic data collection,” the survey states.
The survey was based on a sample of 1,200 Indian Americans, 74 per cent of whom were US citizens and 23 per cent non-US citizens. Of the 23 per cent, 88 per cent have retained their Indian citizenship.
Around 65 per cent of the group was married while 79 per cent were 25 years or older with a college degree. The median annual household income among respondents was $80-$99,000 and the median age of respondents was 35 years.
The survey also had a margin of error of +/- 2.8 per cent.
These demographics are similar to those of the larger US population. The report further said a survey conducted by the US Census in 2018 found that there are 4.2 million people of Indian origin in the US, 38 per cent of whom are not US citizens and the rest are either naturalised citizens or born in the US.
Rahul Gandhi fares worse than Modi
To gauge support for political leaders and parties in India, the survey employed a “feeling thermometer” question created by the American National Election Studies (ANES).
The question involved respondents being asked to rate political parties or individuals on a scale of 0-100.
Ratings of 0-49 denoted less favourable sentiment, a rating of 50 meant indifferent while ratings from 51-100 meant favorable and warmth towards an individual or organisation.
Modi, rated at 58, was perceived slightly more favourably than his own party, rated at 57. The RSS fared just below the midpoint at 46, while Congress was rated at 44 and Rahul Gandhi at 38.
Corruption, slowing economy main concerns with India
The survey found that 36 per cent of respondents believe India is currently on the right track, 39 per cent believe it is on the wrong track and 25 per cent expressed no opinion. Corruption and slowing economic growth were two main concerns about India’s trajectory among the respondents.
These views are more pessimistic than the larger Indian population. A June-July 2020 Ipsos survey in India had found that 65 per cent of urban Indians believe the country is moving in the right direction.
The survey also notes that Indian Americans believe white supremacy is a greater threat to minorities in the US (73 per cent), a country where they are a minority, than Hindu majoritarianism is to minorities in India (53 per cent), a country where Hindus are largely in the majority.
Also, 53 per cent of foreign-born Indian Americans believe the US should help strengthen India’s military as a check against China while 21 per cent do not want to provoke China. Meanwhile, 38 per cent of US-born Indian Americans are in favour of such a move compared to 33 per cent who are not.
Indian Americans less aware of RSS than of Congress, BJP
As far as political awareness fares, 70 per cent of respondents in the survey were familiar with the BJP and Modi, 60 per cent were familiar with the Congress and party leader Rahul Gandhi while just 41 per cent are aware of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Also, 54 per cent use online sources to follow news about India such as platforms like YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp.
The survey found that the most popular news source about India among Indian Americans is The Times of India, while 34 per cent were familiar with NDTV, 28 per cent with Aaj Tak and 18 per cent with Republic. The least trustworthy sources were found to be the Indian government, social media and messaging apps.