'Indians have confidence in Bush not US'

India's opinion of US has dropped significantly over the past year, but Indians' confidence in Bush has improved.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2006 12:22 IST

India's opinion of the United States has dropped significantly over the past year, but Indians' confidence in US President George W Bush has improved, according to the results of a recent survey of international attitudes.

In some ways, the results from India of the 15-nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey parallel opinions elsewhere in the world, with America's image slipping as the Iraq war has dragged on.

In 2005, 71 per cent of Indians said they had a favourable opinion of the United States -- a figure that dropped to 56 per cent this year, according to survey results released on Tuesday.

At the same time, however, while confidence in Bush's leadership stumbled in much of the world -- going to 50 per cent from 62 per cent in the United States over the past year and to 30 per cent from 37 per cent in Great Britain -- India's views of the US president climbed to 56 per cent from 54 per cent.

The results come during a watershed year in Indo-US relations. Bush traveled to India in March to sign a broad nuclear agreement under which the United States will share nuclear material and know-how with India in exchange for international safeguards.

The nuclear deal, which still must be approved by the US Congress, is wildly popular in India where it is seen as an acknowledgment that this still-developing nation is increasingly accepted as a serious international power.

Indian political analysts were not surprised by the poll results. "Bush is viewed as a friend of India, and the decision on signing a nuclear deal with India was a leap of faith," said C Uday Bhaskar, deputy director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, a New Delhi-based think-tank.

"The sharp fall in opinion about the US is partly due to America's inability to end the Iraq war. Issues like Guantanamo, Palestine have also played negatively in the press," Bhaskar said, adding that the US government's response to Hurricane Katrina was considered inadequate by some Indians.

The survey in India questioned 2,029 urban adults between mid-April and early May. It has a margin of error of 2 per cent.

First Published: Jun 14, 2006 09:50 IST