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Obama popular in India: Poll

world Updated: Oct 21, 2010 16:32 IST
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When President Barack Obama travels to India next month, he will be visiting a country where both he and America are immensely popular along with its own leaders like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, according to an opinion poll.

More than seven in ten Indians have confidence in Obama and about two-thirds express a favourable opinion of the United States, it said.

Indians are also positive about their own country's role in world affairs and they are optimistic about its economic future, while they see Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Pakistan as greatest threats to the country, said the Pew Research Centre.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh receives extremely positive ratings (87 per cent favourable), as do Congress President Sonia Gandhi (87 per cent) and her son Rahul Gandhi (85 per cent).

"Obama, who is scheduled to visit India and other Asian countries in November, is widely popular: 73 per cent express confidence that Obama will do the right thing in world affairs," the poll said.

Pew said the US enjoys a largely positive image in India. Nearly two-thirds (66 per cent) express a favourable opinion of the US, although this is down from 76 per cent last year. By contrast, only 51 per cent rate Russia favourably, and even fewer feel this way about the EU (36 per cent) or China (34 per cent).

While many publics around the world continue to believe the US acts unilaterally in world affairs, Indians see a more multilateral America, the survey said.

More than eight in ten (83 per cent) say the US takes the interests of countries like India into account when it makes foreign policy decisions -- the highest percentage among the 21 nations surveyed outside the US, it said.

"This view has become increasingly common among Indians over the last eight years – in 2002, only 51 per cent said the US considered their interests," it said.

Indians express confident views about their country's role in the international arena. Almost four in ten (38 per cent) think India is already one of the world's leading powers and roughly half (49 per cent) say it will be one eventually.

Only eight per cent believe it will never be a major power, it said.

According to Pew, a plurality of Indians characterise Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed for the Mumbai attacks, as the greatest threat facing their country.

"One-third name Pakistan as the greatest threat – and overwhelmingly Indians believe there is a link between these two threats: 58 per cent say the Pakistani government actively supports extremist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, while another 21 per cent think it at least tolerates them. "And if these groups were to conduct another terrorist attack against India, most would support military action against them in Pakistan," the poll results said.

The Indian military also receives high marks: 92 per cent say it is having a good influence on the nation, and 65 per cent describe its influence as "very" good.

"Indians embrace key elements of economic globalisation. Nine in ten describe growing trade and business ties between India and other nations as a good thing; 79 per cent believe most people are better off in a free market economy, even if that means some are rich while others are poor; and 72 per cent think large foreign companies are having a positive impact in India," it said.