India Ranks Third for COVID-19 Response in First-of-its-Kind Global Survey

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India, May 19, 2020: According to the findings from a first-of-its-kind global survey, Indians are very satisfied with their country’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the country in at third place amongst 23 countries.

Jointly conducted by Singapore’s leading social research agency Blackbox Research and Toluna, an ITWP company and leading consumer intelligence platform which delivers Insights on Demand, the Toluna – Blackbox Index of Global Crisis Perceptions measured the sentiments of citizens from 23 countries towards their national COVID-19 crisis management efforts. This is assessed across four key performance indicators: national political leadership, corporate leadership, community, and media.

Results at a Glance 

India: Well Managed, and Citizens Least Anxious 

With an index score of  59, India tied with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and was above the global score of 45, coming in third place globally and within the Asia region. (Chart 1)

Chart 1

This positive score was also reflected in the national mood, with only 32 per cent of Indian citizens feeling anxious during the crisis – the least in any country in the survey. (Chart 2)

Chart 2

In terms of overall crisis management, 87 per cent of Indians felt that their country has managed the crisis well. (Chart 3) Top drivers contributing to the score includes keeping the public informed with accurate information on COVID-19, implementing action plans to reduce the risk of virus spread, and advising employers on how to minimise workplace health risks. 

Chart 3

David Black, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Blackbox Research, said that India’s impressive score reflects the country’s early proactive measures to ensure that it stays ahead of the crisis as the pandemic evolves, including the country’s biggest lockdown.

Mr Black said, “India’s coronavirus strategy has been aggressive from the onset, and state-specific success stories like Kerala have inspired confidence across the nation. While its total number of cases has now surpassed China’s, as the world’s second-most populous country India has maintained a relatively low reported death rate, and it is seeing a noticeable reduction in its rate of contagion, which experts attribute to the nationwide lockdown which took place in late March.

He added, “India has not been afraid to take a hard stance against the pandemic, as demonstrated by the recent extension of its lockdown in order to accelerate public health measures such as case detection, contact tracing, isolation and management of cases. This has given its citizens confidence that the right decisions have been made, despite the enormous difficulties in mobilising a nation of this size.”

Meanwhile, with an index score of 85, China tops the index with the most citizens rating its performance favourably across all four indicators, followed by Vietnam in second place with an index score of 77. New Zealand (56) is the only Western country with an index score higher than the global average – indicating that citizens in Western countries are generally less satisfied with their countries’ performances.

On the other end of the index, Japan ranks last with an index score of 16, due to its perceived poor political performance and business leadership, as well as lacklustre community performance. Countries like Hong Kong (27) and South Korea (31) also fared poorly with its citizens. 

Confidence in National Leadership Strong

With the number of infections over 4.7 million worldwide, world leaders have seen their political leadership scrutinised by its citizens amid mounting pressures to stem the pandemic. India has emerged strongly, with more than half (52 per cent) of its citizens reporting favourable ratings towards their government’s performance during this crisis, above the global average of 40 per cent. (Chart 4)

Chart 4

Additionally, 69 per cent of Indians reported being satisfied with their top national leaders, such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Chart 5) Mr Black said that one of the factors potentially contributing to India’s heightened public confidence towards its political leaders is Prime Minister Modi’s visibility during the crisis.

Chart 5

Mr Black added, “As part of the government’s public communication efforts during this pandemic, Prime Minister Modi has been making regular televised appearances, calling out to the nation to cooperate during these challenging times, and even apologising to the public the impact that these harsh measures will have especially on the poor.”

“However, whether this positive sentiment prevails will likely depend on how effectively the government addresses the social and economic ramifications of the pandemic, which we are beginning to see signs of, such as the unveiling of a stimulus package worth 10 per cent of the country’s GDP.”

Globally, only 7 out of the 23 countries’ political leaders were rated highly for their crisis response by at least 50 per cent of its citizens. Japan emerged last on the list, with only 5 per cent of its citizens rating their leaders’ responses favourably.

Aside from New Zealand, Western countries including the U.S., Australia, Italy, Germany, UK, and France had less than 50 per cent of its citizens report favourable ratings, with France faring lowest in the region and third-lowest globally at 14 per cent. Mr Black notes that the study confirms that the crisis has dented western psyches in so far of expectations about national preparedness in many areas.

Businesses Leading the Way 

With a deepening economic slump across the world amid nationwide lockdowns, business leaders are also put to the test in terms of how they respond to the crisis. For India, businesses are playing a greater role than other countries, with 45 per cent of Indians rating their country’s business leaders favourably, above the global average of 28 per cent and placing the country in the top three. (Chart 6)

Chart 6

Mr Black said, “Increasingly, people are recognising that businesses have a part to play when it comes to addressing the pandemic and the impact it has on the country. Today’s CEOs are knee-deep in difficult choices as they attempt to absorb losses, steady cash flow and balance the competing needs of their investors, customers, staff, and suppliers. It is heartening to see that a greater percentage of Indians are satisfied with how business leaders are performing, but evidently more can be done.”

Globally, China (80 per cent) and Vietnam (64 per cent) are the only two countries with more than 50 per cent of their citizens rating highly when it comes to their business leaders’ responses to the crisis. Meanwhile, France (10 per cent), Hong Kong (7 per cent), and Japan (6 per cent) fell behind as the most poorly rated. This could be attributed to how people felt that businesses can be doing more, with 4 in 5 (79 per cent) of those surveyed said they expected major businesses to have done more during the crisis. 

India’s Wishlist: Better Contact Tracing Technology

Once the crisis is over, the three things people globally most want to see are a full economic recovery in 6 months (58 per cent), healthcare reforms (52 per cent), and better use of technology for contact tracing (49 per cent). India, in particular, is one of the top three countries that most want to see better pandemic technology for contact tracing.

Commenting on the significance of the latest survey results, Mr Black said, “The survey findings have shown that the pandemic has dramatically shifted our worldview, and this will unequivocally change the way we approach governance, business, and healthcare moving forward. Indians’ enthusiasm for contact tracing technology also reflects the fact that in recent years, it has often been the technology that has done the most to transform and improve lives in the country.

“COVID-19 is not the first and will not be the last global pandemic. In order to rebuild public trust and confidence, leaders need to consider the lasting implications and impacts of the crisis in order to emerge from this crisis stronger and more resilient.”