‘Indian-Americans Go Liberal in US, Back Conservatives in India’

A survey of the political attitudes shows that they have relatively more conservative views of policies in India.

South Asians
3 min read

A recent survey of the political attitudes of the Indian-Americans has shown that they have relatively more conservative views of policies in India, while on issues affecting the US, they have a more liberal outlook, reported PTI.

According to PTI, the survey is a collaboration between the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Johns Hopkins-SAIS, and the University of Pennsylvania, “How Do Indian Americans View India? Results from the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey”, draws on the Indian-American Attitudes Survey (IAAS).

The IAAS survey that has an overall margin of error of /- 2.8 percent, is a nationally representative online survey of 1,200 Indian-American adults. It was conducted between 1 September and 20 September, 2020, in partnership with YouGov.


Indian-Americans comprise slightly more than 1 percent of the total US population and less than 1 percent of all registered voters.

The survey concluded that Indian-Americans’ policy views are more liberal on issues affecting the United States, whereas they are more conservative when it comes to issues affecting India.

According to the survey, Indian-Americans comparatively hold more conservative views of Indian policies than of US policies for issues such as the equal protection of religious minorities, immigration, and affirmative action.

For instance, in a country like the United States where they are a minority, Indian-Americans believe that white supremacy is a greater threat than Hindu majoritarianism is to minorities in India, a country where Hindus are in the majority, the report said.

As per the report, 70 percent of Hindus agree that white supremacy is a threat to minorities in the United States, compared to 79 percent of non-Hindus. Meanwhile, only 40 percent of Hindus agree that Hindu majoritarianism is a threat to minorities, compared to 67 percent of non-Hindus, pointing to a much sharper divide.

Indicating that the Indian-Americans are divided about India’s current course, the survey said that “respondents are nearly evenly split as to whether India is currently on the right track or going down the wrong road,” reported PTI.

Among India’s top three challenges is government corruption at 18 percent, ranked on one followed by economy, which is at 15 percent, and lastly is the issue of China and terrorism.

As per the report, 55 percent Indian-Americans either strongly or somewhat support an all-India National Register of Citizens and 51 percent support the 2019 Citizenship (Amendment) Act. About 65 percent of them oppose the use of police force against peaceful protesters and 69 percent oppose the government crackdowns on the media.

Concerning issues of caste-based favour in higher education admissions, 47 percent of them are in support of this measure while 53 percent oppose it.

The survey also stated that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the most popular political party among Indian-Americans.

“One-third of respondents favour the ruling BJP while just 12 percent identify with the Congress Party,” it said, as reported by PTI.

It also noted that Indian-Americans hold a fairly favourable view of PM Modi and nearly half of them approve of his performance as the prime minister. However, two in five Indian-Americans do not identify themselves with an Indian political party.

“This support is greatest among Republicans, Hindus, people in the engineering profession, those not born in the United States, and those who hail from North and West India,” the survey result said as reported by PTI.

The survey results conclude that the Indian-Americans who have build up their political profile in the country, are fairly supportive of the relationship US-India share. While a majority of Indian-Americans hold unfavourable opinions of China, a group of them favour the current levels of US support for India.

The report also stated that Indian-Americans are divided about US efforts to strengthen India’s military to put a check on China.

Foreign-born Indian-Americans, especially those who identify themselves as Republicans, favour the US’s efforts to support India’s militarily in comparison to their US-born and Democratic counterparts.

Authors of the report are Sumitra Badrinathan from the University of Pennsylvania, Devesh Kapur from Johns Hopkins-SAIS and Milan Vaishnav from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

India has the largest diaspora population in the world with 18 million people from the country living outside their homeland in 2020 as per a UN report from January.

The UAE, the US and Saudi Arabia host the largest number of migrants from India.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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