Indians dissatisfied with direction of country
February 27th, 2014
10:41 AM ET

Indians dissatisfied with direction of country

By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.

Nations periodically have “change” elections. The outcome of the 1980 U.S. presidential contest, in which Ronald Reagan trounced then President Jimmy Carter, was attributable to many factors. But at the end of the day, Americans just wanted a change.

India may be heading for a similar such election when the public goes to the polls later this spring to elect a new parliament and government.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that seven-in-ten Indians are dissatisfied with the way things are going in their country today. And, by a margin of more than three-to-one, they would prefer the right-of-center, Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to lead the next Indian government, rather than the current governing coalition led by the left-of-center Indian National Congress party.

Of course, much can happen between now and election day. But the Indian public is clearly disgruntled and seems to be ready to embrace someone new.

The 2014 Indian election will select 543 members of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the national parliament. No single party has won a parliamentary majority since 1989, so recent governments have involved coalitions of smaller regional parties led by either the BJP or Congress.

But just 29 percent of Indians are satisfied with the way things are going in India today, while 70 percent says they are dissatisfied. Such disgruntlement is shared across various demographic groups: three quarters of men and two-thirds of women; almost three-quarters of Indians age 18 to 29, and those 50 years of age and older (69 percent); two-thirds of those with a primary school education or less, and three quarters of Indians with a college education or more. In addition, about three quarters of those living in urban areas say they are dissatisfied.

So who might they want in charge going forward? More than six-in-ten Indians prefer the BJP to lead the next Indian national government, while only a fifth picked the Indian National Congress. BJP backing is consistent across age groups, with people with a college education or more only slightly more likely to pick the BJP than those with a primary school education or less. And the BJP’s support is almost equal between rural (64 percent) and urban (60 percent) Indians.

This preference for the BJP reflects a widespread sense that the party would do a better job dealing with the many challenges facing Indian society.

A majority says the BJP is more likely to be successful than Congress in creating employment opportunities in the future, while a similar proportion of the Indian public – 56 percent – says the BJP would do a better job than Congress in reducing terrorism.

There is equal faith in the BJP’s capacity to combat corruption, while only 17 percent say Congress can successfully deal with corruption. In addition, with inflation running high, limiting rising prices is a special public concern and a majority of the public says the BJP would be better at reining in inflation.

Notably, despite the Congress party’s historic roots in India’s villages and its past efforts to provide more jobs and services for the impoverished, more than half of the public say the BJP would do a better job than Congress in helping the poor, a view that held even in rural areas and among low-income Indians.

And although in recent months the Lok Sabha has been stymied by partisan disputes, the Indian public also has more faith in the BJP to end the gridlock, with 47 percent saying it is better suited than the Congress party to do so, compared with 19 percent who thought Congress had a better chance.

With more than 1.2 billion people, India is the world’s most populous democracy. And to the surprise of many its electorate threw out the BJP government in 2004. Is a similar push for change on the horizon?

The Pew survey cannot gauge the level of support for either the BJP or Congress for particular constituencies. But it certainly suggests a widespread desire among Indians for a change in leadership.


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Topics: India • Poll

soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. Vipul Shah

    The main reason people ditching congress is corruption, dynasty politics and bad governance. Rajeev Gandhi without any experince, became prime minister. Sonia remained super power for 10 yrs of UPA rule. No responsibility but only power. Now its Pappu, pet name for a dumb heir Rahul Gandhi. How can a population of 1.2 bilion, with such large amount of young citizens can Rahul Gandhi as leader. Congress spent trillions on welfare past decade but all went in corruption of politicians and bureaucrats. misgovernance, unemployment, low growth is gift of congress.

    February 27, 2014 at 11:16 am | Reply
    • Scott

      But do not underestimate Congress. They are the master of divide and rule politics. The new party called AAP will cut BJP's vote and will support UPA government. I am also expecting a hindu muslim riot just before the election so Congress can get the swing voters in the name of secular party. In reality, Congress is the worst communal party you will ever find – they shift their priorities and support based on which way the wind is blowing. They will do that again – just wait and watch.

      February 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        Although there is a wave of support for Narendra Modi, the Gujarat chief minister, because of an impressive economic record, he has been seen as divisive since deadly religious riots in the state in 2002. Indeed, it is too early to tell whether Indians are prepared to vote in large numbers for him. If his BJP party wins, it will not have the majority to form a government and must rely on regional parties, which often have regional agendas.

        March 1, 2014 at 7:19 am |
  2. steve

    I agree with guy above. As an outsider looking in, India has huge potential without the dynasties and corruption. The middle class can be grown, the education levels can be grown to even higher levels. Its a no wonder silicon valley s really in india. If they can grow and then somehow help the poor people – not create such a huge gulf where you have a ferrari then anything is possible. Science and education leads to superpowers. Technology can be used not only in war but the economy. Thats where my money wd be.

    February 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Reply
    • bob

      No, India is in Silicon Valley. There must be at least 25 Indian grocery stores in Sunnyvale.

      February 27, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  3. steve

    Sorry thta didnt make sense – I meant try to cut the gap where you have a ferrari owner driving past someone with no limbs living on the street with no food or anything.

    February 27, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Reply
  4. freedomjunkie

    India is a Puppet Democracy !! India's shadow govt controls ALL Parties and Resides ABROAD !! Both BJP and Congress have their Manchurian Candidates fooling the Indian "Sheeples" in their villages, Recently US Ambassador Nancy Powell made a U Turn and met Modi , BJP Candidate who had a visa ban on him from US !! Basically he must have either cut a deal OR got his marching orders. India recently RELEASED the Killers of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his Widow Italian wife said NOTHING ?? Give me a Break !!

    February 27, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  5. Marty

    The numbers of people dissatisfied with the government is about the same as in the U.S. but no one expects a change in the U.S. I agree with Steve's comments it is the same in New York, L.A., or Washington as in India the ferrari drives past the homeless and never sees a thing.

    February 27, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  6. isolate

    For those unfamiliar with the level of corruption at all levels in India, I recommend "Beyond the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity " by Katherine Boo. The underlying story is based on interviews with residents of a slum fearing the destruction of their neighborhood by developers. Not as depressing as you might think, it also shows how clever and adaptable people can be when living in nightmarish conditions.

    February 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Reply
    • nikhil chauhan

      Those slums were illegal and were rightfully demolished... In fact any slum in India is illegal as in the land is not theirs

      February 27, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Reply
      • PaulC

        What happened to the people living there when the slums were demolished?

        February 27, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
      • nikhil chauhan

        Paul...they been given multistory housing.... They are vote bank...why don't you westerners do the same for gypsies or Romas

        February 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
  7. Singh

    When were Indians ever "satisfied" with the direction of their country? 70 years of Democracy and 800 Million people living under $2 a day??? I couldn't imagine of a better day....when Indians were living under 25 cents a day in Middle ages??

    February 27, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  8. Fact

    "Prime Minister" job has become a family business. The family, who has no interest in developing and building the nation, but only looting the entire country and hiding the black money in foriegn banks. The family, with the tremendous wealth, has no fear to demolish anyone on their way.
    This 'family business' concept starting from 'Prime Minister' role has gone all the way down to 'Municipal Leader' role. This country needs to come out of the deeply rooted old concept which never worked and start accepting new changes.

    February 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  9. anony

    Indians are never satisfied

    February 27, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Reply
    • anony2

      I was going to say that. Does seem they complain a lot and
      nothing you can do to satisfy them once they get started.

      February 28, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Reply
      • Neo

        true.. typical human behavior

        March 1, 2014 at 4:56 pm |
  10. Jason Glugla

    They need to grow the population as we ship jobs to them faster.

    February 27, 2014 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  11. HJA

    Manufacturing in India is booming because of the hefty tariffs on imports. You want to sell it in India, you build it in India. That's the way it should be. Sell it in Germany, build it in Germany. Sell it in the US, build it in the US. That's the way you provide jobs.

    February 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  12. smellslikecurry

    Indias economy is slowing down. Only so much need for annyoing guys with indian accents calling about your credit card balance LOL so sad shangahi is a futuristic clean city Mumbai a hell hole...

    February 27, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Reply
    • kungpao_with_yy_or_fry_y

      Hey Chinese duckling, there is a reason the guys calling you are Indian and not Chinese. Imagine a Chinese guy making a career switch from being a Chinese cook to a call center... we won't understand a word (probably sound like a duck making a phone call). The reason they're annoying my friend is because, as you said, you have a credit card balance. In India, first off, we have our own issues, as you do in China. But (un like China) we have the freedom of speech, no censorship, free press and the ability to change our political parties. Yeah I like futuristic cities like Shanghai and Bejing, particularly the Tinanmen Square where many many ducklings (unfortunately) got squashed by your own government. How come the rest of China ain't as futuristic and pretty as Shanghai and Bejing? Why do you violently suppress natives in Tibet and Xingiang? Btw these comments apply to only you and folks who think like you. To the Chinese folks who don't offend me, I respect you and your values. ni hao

      February 28, 2014 at 1:00 am | Reply
      • Hero

        The Chinese are a lot more happier than you think. I don't believe you have travel much in China. There are a lot more cities which you haven't seen which is impressive even by western standards. I am NOT from China. I have been to india and sad to say, your water supply and sanitation is appalling. Your infrastructure is nothing compared to China. India is way way way behind China interms of development and cleanliness. Respect is earned NOT imposed on.

        February 28, 2014 at 8:39 am |
      • Hous

        @ Hero below,
        I can bet a 1000 dollars that you're from China or a Chinese national living overseas. I am not from China, but married to a Chinese woman. I have occasionally travelled to the interior parts of China, the ones you do not hear about in the media, and they are surely not as nice as the cities. Granted that India is a decade behind China, primarily due to a crappy federal government and their early centralized policies, but not everything is as rosy in China as the perception you're trying to create.

        February 28, 2014 at 9:18 am |
      • MrStyx

        Is that with or without the smog. Is that the same infrastructure and rivers that had the dead swine in em or all the other pollutants? Are you one of the citizens that turns a blind eye while the dumping continues all for the sake of modernization?

        February 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
  13. The Mayor of Medinah

    So was this a comment on the body odor??? PEW Research???

    A new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that seven-in-ten Indians are dissatisfied with the way things are going in their country today

    February 27, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Reply
    • Allah-ho-Akhbar

      Mayor of Medinah, I know how your people smell. They smell like stale meat. When you people get together for namaz, the smell is absolutely unbearable... smell like rotten kababs. What you need to worry about is what are you gonna do after that oil gets over from under the desert of Medinah? Back to camel backs and eating dates & lizzards?

      February 28, 2014 at 1:07 am | Reply
  14. The Mayor of Medinah

    I am sure they are sick and tired of the hands outs as well

    February 27, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  15. Vaibhav Deshpande

    Result of corrupt And dynastic rule of Congress party. Can you expect population to be satisfied if they are ruled by an idiot lady just because she was a widow of late prime minister? But these so called dissatisfied people are to be blamed for this state of affairs in India. Despite democracy, why in the world they keep trusting corrupt Congress is beyond understanding. No one in India knows where this Sonia came from? No one knows what she did when she was young. No one knows her educational background. More so, she can't speak ANY indian language nor can she speak English! If you are going to vote someone as dumb as her to power then you dont have any right to complain afterwards. You get what you pay for. Im in fact surprised that India has not yet disintegrated because of such clueless leaders. Credit entirely goes to professional Indian defense! Grow up and use your brains while voting and then you will see some prosperity and less corruption.

    February 27, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Reply
    • Jayakumar

      And she still has an italina passport.

      February 27, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  16. jaydavid666

    "The outcome of the 1980 U.S. presidential contest, in which Ronald Reagan trounced then President Jimmy Carter, was attributable to many factors."

    Reagan betrayed the US by making a deal with the Ayatollah Khomeini to block the release of the American hostages. The betrayal included Reagan then giving Iran prohibited weapons. Reagan then back Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran.

    Ronald Reagan was the S U C K I E S T president in US history.

    And from 1981 to 1989 under Reagan, the US Treasury created more deficit than did all previous presidents combined.

    February 27, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  17. jaydavid666

    Indians are lucky.
    Obama is an I D I O T. He wants to continuing throwing away the lives of our soldiers in Afghanistan.
    Please President Karzai: Be the president that America needs.

    February 27, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Reply
    • just wondering

      America has its own version of fools they are called Tea trash...

      February 27, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  18. Vik

    People deserve the leaders they choose.

    February 27, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  19. Hullabaloo

    Welcome to the club

    February 27, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  20. bencoates57

    They prefer to be called "Native Americans."

    February 27, 2014 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  21. YYJ

    Corruption brings down empires, it's not a matter of "if", its a matter of when. Again I believe this is why America is so strong. It's not the fact it does t have any corruption, but considering the size of its economy, I believe, America's corruption is fairly low. Once any serious seeds of corruption enter this country, it will start the engines of decline.

    February 27, 2014 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  22. MIM

    And the head of this BJP party is Narendra Modi, to whom US has denied visa due to the 2003 genocide committed in Gujarat under his watch. I therefore request the US government not to change his visa status, even if he becomes the future Prime Minister of India.

    February 27, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Reply
    • Yes sir

      Now that you've requested, we shall make sure that the Prime Minister of India (our major ally in Asia) never visits the US. We shall do the due diligence, by declining him a visa. Thank you for the insider info and for sharing your expertise in this matter. You appear to be a very bright person.

      February 28, 2014 at 1:14 am | Reply
  23. Roy

    Good news because 90% non indians are not satisified with the direction the country is taking.

    February 27, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  24. Noise

    Oh please. Indians like to complain but won't do anything about it.

    February 27, 2014 at 8:35 pm | Reply
    • Jayakumar

      Really!! then you have not been paying attention to the news.

      February 27, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Reply
  25. Jayakumar

    There is nothing new about the BJP as the article seems to suggest. They are also a bunch of crooks just like the congress. Unfortuantley Indians dont have much of a choice in this matter. The AAP party would be a good change, but they lack the staying power or the leadership. SO it is the BJP then. Tough choice. The BJP was also the same party that exploded the atomic bomb in 1998 when they were in power and led the country to near economic ruin. It was also the same party that opposed economic changes in 1991 when the congress implemented far reaching reforms that pulled India out of economic disaster and removed socialistic policies. It si quite sad that the same party that saved India in 1991, now has only this corrupt italian lady Sonia gandhi and her equally inept son Rahul to lead the country. No wonder BJP has a winning chance. It is not that the CONGRESS does not have able and charismatic leaders, but the ambitions of one lady Sonia for her son and hier Rahul that is pushing the country to the right. It is quite sad, but be prepared for more riots and nuclear bomb testing once the BJP come to power.

    February 27, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  26. freedomjunkie

    The CONTROLLED DEMOLITION of India in Works !! Recently a Prosperous Southern India state of AP was split into two based on laundary list of injustices from a bygone era. The key objective to divide the people to again start rebuilding themselves and DERAIL Progress , WASTE Tax Money and the RIP OFF the Common Man. India's Shadow Govt from abroad controlling both their BJP and Congress Puppets is Bent on Breaking India as much as Possible. Soon India will have to give up Kashmir or face sanctions (aka Western "Healing" Carrot to a Very Angry Moslem world Tired of Indiscriminate Bombings and Wars in their lands by the Western War Lords for their oil interests). India will also FORCED to give up Punjab for Khalistan. India will have their Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram GRABBED by China or Western Controlled Christian Coalition. The Long term Goal of the New World Order regulating India's Shadow Govt is Total Dismantle of India. BJP, Congress are just Foot Soldiers who take their Marching Orders from their Masters.

    February 27, 2014 at 11:54 pm | Reply
    • Ganesh_India

      Keep dreaming.

      February 28, 2014 at 2:02 am | Reply
    • Neo

      dang. what is that you are smoking.. seems effective. let me know.

      March 1, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Reply
  27. I can see clearly now, using microscopes for glasses

    I was in Mumbai recently, on a work related trip. What a shock, for a person who has lived his entire life in the Western World. My understanding is that India got independence from the British in 1947, but 67 years later, is hugely lost, corrupt and stuck in quicksand. Mumbai is scary, dysfunctional, chaotic and out-of-control. I think the British left behind a nation of clerks, who had absolutely no concept how to figure themselves out and build their nation up from scratch. Very sad stuff! And to think that some really smart Indian engineers and doctors live successful, happy lives, all over the world, because they were pretty much forced (using their own common sense) to get the hell out of there...... wow! The trains in India are a good example of the problems facing this country. They are stuck in the stone age, decrepit, falling apart, over-crowded, poorly run, badly managed, smelly, and barely work. So going thru some nonsensical analysis about whether they should choose the BJP or INC is a farce, like it always has been, and yet, is all their people can choose between: incompetence and more incompetence!

    February 28, 2014 at 12:26 am | Reply
    • Ganesh_India

      Atleast we don't shoot dead innocent school kids before committing suicide like you pathetic Americans.

      February 28, 2014 at 1:58 am | Reply
    • macro view not micro view

      Your microscopic view is rather myopic. Looking at it from a macro perspective, "Incredible India" and "India Rising" and ISRO rockets being sent to Mars, it would appear that India is upwardly mobile. Hell, even the beggars on the streets in Mumbai now have cell phones!!!!!!!!!!! The devil is in the details though, and there is definitely some truth to the statements that corruption, corruption and more corruption is keeping India mired in quicksand.

      February 28, 2014 at 11:28 am | Reply
  28. Jas

    Don't care about Indians. In the Bay Area they are rude and annoying. Go back to stinky land please.

    February 28, 2014 at 1:42 am | Reply
    • Ganesh_India

      Stinky? Maybe the stink will go away if you go wash your never-washed-in-a-lifetime a s s for a change.

      February 28, 2014 at 2:00 am | Reply
  29. Jason Telly

    India is a perfect hypocrisy hence frustrations with its democracy......

    February 28, 2014 at 10:37 am | Reply
    • Ganesh_India

      Americans talking about hypocrisy is like a fat man giving a lecture on fitness. When are you Americans going to extradite Warren Anderson, former CEO of Union Carbide, to face charges in India for negligence that led to the Bhopal Gas Disaster that killed thousands of Indians? And you Americans talk about equality and justice? Talk about hypocrisy!

      February 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Reply
  30. citizenUSA

    Ohhhhh, Indians from India. Just as I was getting out the peace pipe...

    February 28, 2014 at 10:48 am | Reply
    • Marty

      Easy method to keep it straight. This is dot not feather

      February 28, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Reply
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