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'Obama approval dips in India, Pak'

world Updated: Sep 21, 2010 03:45 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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With a little over a month to go for President Barack Obama's visit to India, his administration's approval ratings there have fallen to its lowest since 2008, according to a poll by Gallup.

Only 18 per cent of the 6,000 Indians interviewed for this survey approved of United States leadership, compared to 31 per cent in 2008 and 26 per cent in 2009. US leadership ratings

But it was not as if the rest of the respondents disapproved — 72 per cent said they either did not know or did not have an opinion. “Indians who do offer an opinion are more likely to approve than disapprove,” said Gallup.

Could the Obama administration's declining approval ratings have anything to do with the President's stand against outsourcing or the fee hike for H1B visas used mostly by infotech professionals to work in the US? Or a widely held view that Obama's predecessor George W Bush did more or cared more about India?

But India is not a lost case. Pakistan is. The Obama administration disapproval rating is 68 per cent. And this may not come as a surprise to the administration that has been struggling to look good at a nation it considers a crucial ally in the fight against terrorism.

In fact, the US has tried use it relief work in Pakistan's flood-devastated areas to shore up its sagging image, without much success. Rajiv Shah, chief of USAID, which is spearheading US flood relief efforts, was forced to flee Pakistan within hours of landing there.

Afghanistan is the other country where the US leadership took a beating, according to the Gallup poll -- 54 per cent of those interviewed said they disapproved, compared to the 45 per cent who approved. Not bad in a country where the US is fighting a war — it still has many friends.