A total of 85% of Indian respondents said that military rule or rule by an authoritarian leader would be good for the country, a 2023 survey by the United States-based think tank Pew Research Centre showed.

Among the 24 countries that were surveyed, the share of adults supporting military rule or authoritarian ways of governing a country was the highest in India, according to the think tank’s report.

The report titled “Representative democracy remains a popular ideal, but people around the world are critical of how it’s working” was based on the research centre’s spring 2023 Global Attitudes Survey. In countries other than the United States, the centre surveyed 27,285 adults from February 20, 2023 to May 22, 2023.

In India, 2,611 adults were interviewed face-to-face between March 25, 2023, and May 11, 2023. Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and the states in the North East were not included in the survey.

The analysis showed that Indians who believed that representative democracy is a good way of governance had declined by 8% since 2017.

Two-thirds of Indians, or 67%, in 2023 said they supported autocracy, in which a strong leader is free to make decisions without interference from a representative body or independent judiciary. The support for the system has gone up by 12% since 2017.

With Canada and most of Europe saying that autocracy is a “very bad” way to govern, the report concluded that a country’s gross domestic product per capita was directly linked to the share of the public who support autocratic rule. “Countries with a higher GDP per capita tend to have fewer people who think rule by a strong leader is a good way to govern,” it said.

However, it clarified that even in higher-income democracies, a significant portion of the respondents describe rule by a strong leader as a good way to govern, including one in four or more in Japan, Poland, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Military rule also found many takers in India, with 29% of respondents saying that it is “somewhat good” and 43% saying it is “very good”.

In North America, Europe, Australia, Israel and South Korea, military rule is decidedly unpopular: eight in ten or more called it a “bad” system.

Further, the report said a total of 82% of Indian respondents expressed support for technocracy, which is a system in which experts, not elected officials, make decisions for the country. This was the highest among all nations surveyed. The support for the system has increased by 17% since 2017.

A majority of Indian respondents, 54%, also believed that elected representatives do not care about what people like them think. However, 58% felt represented by at least one political party in the country.

Despite overwhelming support for autocracy and technocracy, a total of 72% of Indian respondents said that they are satisfied with how democracy is working in their country. This satisfaction, however, has decreased over time as the number was at 79% in 2017.

Additionally, 79% of Indians held a favourable view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In terms of ratings for Opposition leaders, 62% had favourable views of Congress’ Rahul Gandhi.

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