The growing bonhomie between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Donald Trump appears to strongly reflect in the way Indians perceive the US President when it comes to his leadership qualities and policy initiatives. About 42 per cent Indians view Trump as a strong leader, 22 per cent as charismatic and 41 per cent think that he is well-qualified to be President, according to a Pew Research Centre survey.
India was among the 37 countries surveyed by centre in which the respondents were asked to rate Trump and his signature policies. The results were in stark contrast to what Europe feels about Trump, where a high percentage agree that he displays strong leadership but is least qualified to be President. In terms of personal traits, 26 per cent Indian said he is “arrogant” and 28 per cent described him as “dangerous”.
Ahead of PM Modi’s Washington visit, Trump pulled US out of the Paris deal and singled out India saying it made its “participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries”. Despite PM Modi underlining the importance addressing climate change and stressing on India’s commitment to the Paris accord, a significant number of Indian appeared to side with Trump.
Only 25 per cent Indians disapprove with Trump withdrawing US support from the climate change agreement, well against the global median of 71 per cent. And 32 per cent Indians approve Trump’s decision, making India the only country with the highest favourable rating supporting the move.
When pitted against other world leaders, Trump once again comes out on top. Asked to choose between Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premiere Xi Jinping on who would inspire confidence when it comes to “doing the right thing regarding world affairs”, the US president ranked higher than the others. At least 40 per cent of Indians voted for Trump, a full 11 per cent more than Putin. Not surprisingly, Jinping came out last with 21 per cent, closely behind Merkel (23 per cent).
On the relationship between India and the US, 36 per cent Indians said it will get better, compared to the 12 per cent who said it will get worse.
America’s standing in India’s eyes has also slightly altered. At the end of the Obama presidency 56 per cent Indians had a favourable view of the US, in contrast to the 49 per cent after Trump was sworn-in. Also the American culture, ideas and customs found little appeal among Indians as a whopping 49 per cent feel that it is a bad thing that they are spreading here.