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Poll shows Indian Americans are divided over the direction of India

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Supporters react during a “Howdy, Modi” rally celebrating India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas

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By Sanjeev Miglani

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian Americans, who emerged in large numbers at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rock star-like rallies in the United States, are divided over India’s direction, a new poll on Tuesday found.

Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata party has extolled the achievements of the Indian diaspora in America and elsewhere and viewed them as a great base of support to advance India’s interests in the host countries.

But only 36% of Indian Americans believe India is on the right track while 39% believe it is not. This comes from the survey of Indian Americans published by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Johns Hopkins-SAIS, and the University of Pennsylvania.

A fifth of those questioned had no opinion. The survey was conducted between September 1 and September 20, 2020 in collaboration with the research and analysis company YouGov.

“A significant minority of Indian Americans are concerned about the political and social changes in India,” said authors Sumitra Badrinathan, Devesh Kumar and Milan Vaishnav in their assessment of the survey results.

Modi’s government, which took office in 2014 and pledged to turn India into a political and economic power, has been criticized for promoting a Hindu-first India and suppressing dissent.

A massive protest by farmers on the borders of the capital Delhi against reforms of the free market in agriculture, which lasted for months, brought the Modi government back into international splendor. Figures from pop star Rihanna to climate activist Greta Thunberg explain their support for the producers.

The poll found that 18% of Indian Americans viewed corruption in government as India’s most pressing challenge, followed by 15% who identified the economy as their concern. Another 10% of those questioned named religious majoritarianism as the country’s most important challenge.

Indian Americans are the second largest group of immigrants in the United States, and many of them took part in a boisterous Howdy Modi rally in Houston in 2019, which was attended by then-US President Donald Trump.

Despite concerns about where India should go, 49% of those polled gave some indication of Modi’s performance as prime minister. The poll found that 32% disagreed, while the rest said they had no opinion.

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