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What India's urban youth thinks: China cannot be trusted, we must abandon non-alignment

Observer Research Foundation's report reveals 72 per cent of the urban Indian youth had a positive assessment of the country's foreign policy

India urban youth ORF report China cannot be trusted, abandon non-alignment
New Delhi, First Published Nov 11, 2021, 3:26 PM IST

China cannot be trusted! That's what 77 per cent of Indians felt when the Observer Research Foundation reached out to them while compiling its Foreign Policy Survey 2021. The report was compiled based on a survey with a sample size of 2,037 Indians in the age group of 18-35 years from 14 cities. The questionnaire was handed out in eight regional languages.

The ORF report said that the survey conducted by it highlighted three crucial trends among the urban youth and their perception of foreign policy issues. This includes increased awareness and optimism regarding India’s diplomatic engagement with the world, prioritisation of a pragmatic approach in foreign policy decisions and changing perception regarding threats and challenges in India’s foreign policy.

According to the survey, 72 per cent of the urban Indian youth had a positive assessment of the country's foreign policy. This, according to the report, is reflected in their endorsement of some of the government's foreign policy decisions with regard to Pakistan and China and being part of international groupings like the Quad, which also comprises the United States, Australia and Japan. The survey found respondents supportive of the government's actions of banning Chinese mobile applications, carrying out the Balakot airstrike, and controlling illegal immigration.

However, the report also goes on to note there is low awareness about more recent platforms and forums like the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and Shanghai Cooperation Organization. 

One of the most significant aspects enumerated in the report was that 62 per cent of respondents were of the view that India should abandon non-alignment in case of rising US-China tensions. While expressing the fear of war breaking out against China, the respondents expressed concerns about Beijing's interfering in India’s neighbourhood and its military and economic superiority. In fact, two-third of the respondents denied even hearing about the Non-Aligned Movement. 

An overwhelming 71 per cent of respondents felt that the Narendra Modi government's 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' mission would benefit the country. At the same time, the urban youth are deeply divided over the impact of globalisation on India and its economy, their standard of living, travel to and from other countries, society and culture and education opportunities overseas. While the respondents positively viewed studying abroad, optimism with regard to moving abroad to work was significantly lower.

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