Home / News / World /  Russia most reliable partner for young India, US comes second: Survey

Around 43% of Indian youth in the 18-35 age group believe Russia has been India’s most reliable partner since Independence, according to a new survey. Strong support for New Delhi’s ties with Moscow remains a theme with younger Indians, with an overwhelming 87% backing the robust defence relations between the two countries.

The report, titled “The ORF Foreign Policy Survey 2022: India @75 and the World", surveyed 5,000 young Indians across the country.

The US, which ranks a distant second, was rated India’s most reliable partner by 27% of respondents. However, the United States is still viewed by India’s youth as the country most likely to be New Delhi’s leading partner in the next decade. More than 85% of young Indians picked America while 76% picked Russia. Support for Moscow has shot up considerably since last year when only 57% of respondents backed Russia.

In a positive sign for the India-US partnership, large majorities of respondents believed that American support was crucial for India’s rise. Consequently, they supported closer economic and defence ties with the United States, particularly with regard to competition with China. Support for the Quad also remains strong.

Young Indians also cast a wary eye towards India’s northern neighbour. “More than seven of every 10 respondents were of the view that China poses a global challenge to India’s rise," reads the report.

However, as US-China tensions rise, 49% of young Indians would prefer that the country stays neutral in the emerging superpower competition. In 2021, 62% favoured increased cooperation with America in the face of tensions with China. That number dropped significantly to 41% this year, perhaps partly due to India’s experience staking a neutral stand on the ongoing war in Ukraine. As such, young Indians seem to have little appetite for what some have termed a new Cold War between Washington and Beijing.

Despite hostility to China, young Indians find that the BRICS forum- which brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - is the most promising multilateral forum for New Delhi. They ranked it ahead of the emerging Quad as well as more established multilateral forums like the G20. Although the world seems to be suffering from a crisis of confidence in global institutions like the United Nations, India’s youth continue to back multilateralism in large numbers according to the report.

The scars left by the Covid-19 pandemic are also apparent. When asked to identify India’s most pressing security challenges, a staggering “90 percent of respondents were concerned about the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Young Indians placed this threat ahead of border conflicts with China, territorial disputes with Pakistan, climate change and cybersecurity among others.

Overall, there appears to be strong support for India’s current foreign policy stance. Around 77% of respondents rated New Delhi’s strategy positively while large majorities also expressed support for India’s handling of China in the aftermath of the Galwan crisis of 2020.

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