India catapults Modi into world rankings but will it make difference in India?

A Harvard co-sponsored survey puts Indian prime minister just behind Chinese Xi

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Prahlad Rao | December 19, 2014 | New Delhi




Prime minister Narendra Modi still rides high in popularity charts at home. Will this translate into votes in the Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and all important Delhi elections?

In a survey co-sponsored by the Harvard University's prestigious Kennedy School of Government, Modi scores 8.7 on a scale of 10 among domestic audience. Curiously, Modi is upstaged by Chinese president Xi Jinping with a score of 9.0. However, Xi does not have to worry about elections every six months or the opposition, both institutional and the public voice.

For Modi Kashmir is crucial as well the elections in the national capital. The outcomes will tell about the momentum generated by him and most importantly, the aspirations of the public pitching for development agenda.

The Harvard survey was conducted globally by the GMO Research, a Tokyo-based global market research firm and touched more than 26,000 respondents. The survey, released this week, throws light on some interesting and some predictable results.

Among democratic leaders of the world, Modi does well, ranking third most popular at home and second most popular abroad. He is number two in handling domestic affairs as well as international matters. Modi’s emergence has given rise to optimism, domestically and abroad. And in shows in the fact that India tops the rankings as the country whose people are happiest about their own development path.

“It maps pretty closely to geopolitics,” says Anthony Saich, the Daewoo Professor of International Affairs and director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School  in a article in Harvard Gazette.

The poll asked the citizens on five continents and in 30 countries to identify and evaluate the job performance of 10 of the most widely recognized global leaders. According to the survey, Xi, Modi, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were the top-performing world leaders, with respective scores of 7.5, 7.3, and 7.2. US President Barack Obama got 6.6, marginally ahead of British Prime Minister David Cameron at 6.5. French President François Hollande stood at 6.3, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe was at 6.1 and Russian President Vladimir and Putin was placed at the bottom with a ranking of 6.0.

“Two things did surprise me — how well Modi came out. I just put that down to the fact that he’d only just been elected and so I suspect that a lot of people didn’t really know very much about him, and his own nationals were probably still in the phase of him having won the election,” Saich was quoted in the Harvard Gazette. “I thought what was interesting, though, was how well Merkel came out across the board. From the surveys, she really emerges as a leader of international respect.”

Respondents in India (87.8 percent), Russia (79.6 percent), and China (78.6 percent) overwhelmingly said that their home country was moving in the right direction, while only a minority in the United States (44.8 percent), Japan (30.4 percent), and South Africa (29.3 percent) felt their nation was making progress.

The survey reveals interesting points about Xi and his emergence as most popular global leader.  Xi is well received abroad, including the West despite being a Communist leader, known for putting curbs on the media and crackdown on dissent.  Xi scores well in Pakistan and Russia, as well as in Tanzania and Kenya and, to a slightly lesser extent, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
 

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