SOURCE: Bertelsmann Stiftung

December 11, 2007 23:30 ET

72% of Indian People See Their Country as Being a Leading Global Power Ahead of the USA and Other Great Powers in 2020

Global Surveys Are Seeing the USA's Super Power Status Dwindling -- at the Same Time Awareness of the Threat to the Environment Is Growing

BERLIN--(Marketwire - December 11, 2007) - Increasing numbers of Indian people are seeing their own country as a future leading global power. In many other parts of the world, people also expect India to be a global player amongst the big powers in a few years. In an international comparison India has not been attributed a prominent position. This was the outcome of an international opinion poll which the German foundation, the Bertelsmann Stiftung, carried out in September amongst 9000 people in the world's leading states.

In response to the question, "Which countries do you see as being global powers, today and in the future?" 38% of Indian people already currently rank their own nation. The USA was mentioned by 79% of Indian people as a world power, China by 33%, Great Britain also by 33% and Russia by 29%. This estimation however changes in relation to the year 2020. By then, 72% of those Indian people polled see their own country as being in a prominent position as a world power: clearly more than people in the USA (59%), China (39%) and Great Britain (31%).

In the other countries polled it was believed that the USA has lost a considerable amount of kudos. Subsequently only 61% of the population expected the USA still to be a world power in the future. That is 20 per cent less than today.

In most of the countries polled, people expected their own country to increase in significance: in China, Russia and Brazil for example. However, the positive self-evaluation in comparison to the estimation of potential competitors is more pronounced in India than any other country. This self-evaluation was not shared to the same extent by those people polled in other countries. Only 29% expect that India will play a leading role by the year 2020. India ranks in only the sixth position, behind the USA, China, Russia, the EU and Japan.

A rapid change has been detected in the last few years in the perception of global threats and challenges for the world powers. In contrast to 2005, awareness about environmental problems has increased intensely globally by over 10 percentage points, whereas in contrast no such increase in significance has been attached to international terrorism. The proportion of those who perceive climate change and environmental damage as a global threat increased in all countries polled, particularly strongly in the USA (+22 percentage points), in China (+17 percentage points) and in Japan (+16 percentage points). On average globally 54% of all people consider damage to the environment as the most crucial threat.

In contrast this awareness is not yet so intensely developed in India. Here only a minority of 28% consider the destruction of the environment and climate change as a global threat. For 75% of the Indian population international terrorism is by far the greatest danger. 65 % mention above all else poverty and over population and 47% state religious conflict and fundamentalism as further challenges. Fear of conflicts entailing religion in particular has increased by 18 percentage points in India in the past two years.

Summarizing the study, Josef Janning, Head of International Relations at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, noted, "People's future expectations hold enormous sway over policymaking. All over the world, people see the US losing its dominant position and China gaining ground. However, they don't expect the kind of harmonious, balanced world order you might expect from a global government run by the United Nations. Instead, in almost every country, people plan to rely on their own strength in global competition and want their own countries to play larger roles in spreading peace and stability. If this perspective and expectation takes hold in global politics, we may see a resurgence of the sort of nationalistic brinkmanship between current and future global powers that we experienced so disastrously in 20th century Europe. However, the threat of climate change appears to be encouraging greater political cooperation at the international level."

Gallup International/TNS-EMNID, an opinion research firm, recently questioned 9,000 people around the world for the Bertelsmann Stiftung study. The representative survey was conducted in the US, Russia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Germany, France and the UK. As a benchmark, the findings were compared with a prior Bertelsmann Stiftung poll from 2005. The results were presented at the second meeting of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Global Policy Council in Berlin. This body brings together high-calibre experts from various fields and regions to analyze the challenges and opportunities inherent in the dynamics of globalization, the rise of new powers and the emergence of new security risks. Taking part in the debate from were India Sundeep Waslekar, President of the Strategic Foresight Group, Mumbai, and Professor C. Raja Mohan who is currently lecturing at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore.

About the Bertelsmann Stiftung:

The Bertelsmann Stiftung is a non-profit German foundation. As a think tank and political consulting institution, it is committed to developing innovative, humane solutions for the challenges faced by a globalized world. One of its main areas of expertise is international relations. Established in 1977 by Reinhard Mohn, a German businessman, it is still a majority shareholder of Bertelsmann AG, an international media company. In its projects, the Bertelsmann Stiftung is non-partisan and independent from the company.

To download details about the international survey, go to: http://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/bst/de/media/xcms_bst_dms_23193_23194_2.pdf

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