A poll released by the Australia India Institute and the Lowy Institute reveals some surprising findings on Indian public opinion towards Australia.
Despite bad press over security of Indian students in 2009-10, Australia is well-liked in India. Indians hold relatively warm feelings towards Australia (56 degrees on a scale of 0 to 100), which ranks fourth after the United States (62), Singapore (58) and Japan (57) out of 22 countries in the survey.
A 60% majority of Indians surveyed by GfK Mode think it would be better if India’s government and society worked more like Australia’s.
But there are lingering concerns about previous crimes against Indian students: 62% of Indians consider Australia a dangerous place for Indian students, although 53% consider it safer than it was a few years ago, and 49% of Indians consider Australia generally a safe country.
Despite these reservations, Australia ranks second after the United States as a good place to be educated, according to 75% of Indians, and rates more highly than Canada, Singapore, Britain and Germany.
“Most of the results are surprisingly positive,” said the author of the poll study, Rory Medcalf. “Most Indians surveyed seem to admire our society, governance and universities. Only the United States scores much higher in their warmth and esteem. But it is clear we can’t be complacent about Australia’s image or the welcome Indians receive in this country.”
Welcoming the poll, the Director of the Australia India Institute, Professor Amitabh Mattoo, said: “The Australia-India relationship is an idea whose time has come. This poll confirms that Indian perceptions of Australia are improving, but more work is needed to build and secure this vital relationship.”
In other findings, 63% of Indians surveyed see Australia as a country well-disposed to India, 59% agree the two countries have similar security interests, 60% see Australia as a good supplier of energy and other resources and 57% think it supplies good agricultural produce.
Seventy per cent of Indians think selling uranium is important to Australia’s relations with India, while only 5% think it is not important.
And it seems cricket is mostly good for diplomacy. Three-quarters of Indians think the game projects a positive image of Australia, a positive image of India, and helps the two countries grow closer. Still, 35% think cricket can sometimes cause frictions between the countries.
The India-Australia poll is part of a larger opinion survey covering Indian attitudes to the world. Further results will be released in May. The poll reports the results of a nationally representative opinion survey of 1233 Indian adults conducted face-to-face in late 2012. It was conducted in seven languages across India’s geographic regions and all levels of society.