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India's leadership faces high expectations: Gallup

Washington, March 13 (IANS) Indians’ approval of their country’s leadership more than doubled after Prime Minister Narendra Modi led BJP to a historic victory in Lok Sabha polls, but it also faces high expectations, according to a Gallup poll.

Results of face-to-face interviews with 3,000 adults conducted in September-October 2014 in India by the leading US public opinion poll organisation showed the leadership approval jump from 30 percent in 2013 to 63 percent in 2014.

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, Gallup suggested.

With the Bombay Stock Market rising by about 20 percent since Modi took office in May 2014 and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently raising India’s growth estimates for the current fiscal year from 5.8 percent to 7.2 percent, Indians’ outlook for their economy has also improved.

Nearly half of Indians (45 percent) saw their economy as “getting better,” up from 29 percent in 2013.

Likewise, those who felt the economy was getting worse halved from 34 percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2014, the Gallup poll found.

Despite these high economic hopes, the percentage of Indians rating their lives poorly enough to be considered “suffering” continued to rise, from 28 percent in 2013 to 31 percent in 2014, it said.

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 0-10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale.

Those who rate their current and future lives at a 4 or lower are considered suffering.

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, the poll found.

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 polarising policies, Gallup said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is known for embracing business-friendly policies, while the Congress party is known for a more socially liberal platform, Gallup noted.

“For Modi’s government to continue to receive high approval ratings they will need to address the needs of Indians who are suffering,” it said.

“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,” Gallup said.

Gallup also noted that Modi government’s first annual budget offering initiatives that appeal to all segments of Indian society had been warmly received.

With its vast and youthful population, manufacturing could offer economic benefits and jobs to the increasing amount of suffering Indians, it said.

“Modi now needs to translate Indians’ high hopes and economic optimism into real economic growth that benefits all sectors of society,” Gallup said.

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