Most Indians support use of ‘overwhelming’ military force against terrorism: Survey

A majority of Indians are in favour of using military force to deal with international terrorism, according to a recently released survey. More than three in five, or 62%, believe that using “overwhelming military force” is the best way to defeat terrorism around the world and about 63% support increasing defence spending.

On the other hand, only about 21% of the respondents are worried that relying too much on such force would create hatred and lead to more terrorism.

The findings of the survey — conducted by Pew Research Center among 2,464 people in Delhi and 15 of the 17 most-populous states of India between April and May — were released on Monday, a day after heavily armed militants stormed an army camp in Uri of Kashmir’s Baramulla district, killing 18 soldiers.

Most respondents (68%) felt that India is playing a more important role in the world today than it was a decade ago, in a sign that the globe-trotting Prime Minister’s work is paying dividends, but about half did not approve of his Pakistan policy.

Only 22% of the respondents approved of the way the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government was handling India’s volatile relations with its neighbour.

Notably, however, more than half of BJP supporters (54%) and a plurality of Congress party adherents (45%) disapprove of the prime minister’s handling of relations with Pakistan.

The survey gains importance because of its timing. In the wake of the Uri terror attack, emotions are running high in the country, with many calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take retaliatory military action. However, after a two-hour meeting of top government officials on Monday, the PM decided against any “knee-jerk reaction” and, instead, backed moves to present evidence of Pakistan’s “complicity” at global fora.

Regarding PM Modi’s handling of issues with China, BJP supporters were found to be more likely than Congress loyalists to favour his conduct of bilateral relations.

Large majorities, however, said Beijing posed serious challenges for India. Seven-in-ten of those surveyed believe China’s economic impact on India is a serious problem, including 45% who view it as very serious.

Nearly half (48%) think China’s relationship with Pakistan poses a very serious problem for India. Another 21% see it as a somewhat serious challenge. Fully, 69% hold the view Indians quite concerned about China.

Indians who see China’s growing military power as a very serious problem are more likely than those who don’t to favour increased military spending, the survey found.

According to the survey, the Indian public’s satisfaction with the direction the country is heading increased 36 percentage points since 2013, a year before Modi came to power. It also found their view on the economy improved by 23 points.

However, roughly eight-in-ten Indians continue to believe crime, corrupt officials, lack of employment opportunities and terrorism are very big national problems.

This story was published in Hindustan Times.
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