Indians still chase the American dream
Indians are significantly more positive about the US now than they were in the 2002 summer, says a new opinion poll.Updated: Mar 01, 2006 16:47 IST
While the United States' favourability ratings have plunged in many countries, Indians are significantly more positive about the US now than they were in the summer of 2002, a new opinion poll has said.
The 2005 Pew Global Attitudes survey found that 71 per cent of Indians have a favourable view of the United States and 54 per cent admire President Bush in handling world affairs.
What mostly attracts Indians is that America remains a land of opportunity despite its booming economy today.
Asked where they would recommend that a young person move in order to lead a good life, a 38 per cent plurality of Indians choose the United States.
This finding may seem a weak endorsement, given America's longstanding image as a hopeful new world for immigrants; however, in no other country does even a plurality recommend the US to the hypothetical young person searching for a better life.
In other countries, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and Germany are all popular choices.
After India, Poland has the second largest share of respondents recommending the United States -- and only one-in-five Poles (19 per cent) suggests America as a destination.
Having suffered terrorist attacks in their own recent history, including a December 2001 assault on the Indian Parliament, Indians tend to support the war on terrorism.
Just over half (52 per cent) favour US-led efforts to fight terrorism, a level of support similar to many European countries, and significantly higher than in predominantly Muslim countries.
As in many other countries, however, support for the campaign against terrorism has slipped among Indians since 2002, when, just months after the September 11, 2001 attacks, 65 per cent backed US policies.
On Iraq, India is the only country other than the US in which a plurality (45 per cent) believes the removal of Saddam from power has made the world a safer place, and Indians are even less likely than Americans to say the Iraq war made the world more dangerous.
Indians, however, do not regret their country's decision not to use force in Iraq -- 75 per cent say their government did the right thing in abstaining from the US-led coalition.
In the world's largest democracy, moreover, President Bush, who is unpopular in many countries around the globe, is also widely admired.
Indeed, of the 16 countries surveyed on this question in 2005, India was the only one, aside from the United States, in which a majority expressed at least some confidence in the American President.
By contrast, the President is viewed much more negatively in Pakistan, the next stop on Bush's South Asian trip.
Just 10 per cent of Pakistanis express a great deal or some confidence in Bush to do the right thing regarding world affairs.
Morocco (9 per cent), Turkey (8 per cent), and Jordan (1 per cent) were the only countries surveyed to voice less confidence in Bush than do the people of Pakistan.
Despite their pro-American attitudes, Indians would like to see another power become as militarily strong as the United States.
Indeed, Indians are among the most likely to favour another country or group of countries rising to the level of global superpower.
Still, there is less support among Indians for China becoming as militarily powerful as the United States.
Indians are split over this issue, with 45 per cent saying that if China became America's military equal this would be a good thing and 45 per cent saying this would be a bad development.
Here, India occupies something of a middle ground between European countries, which generally oppose the potential military rise of China, and majority Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Jordan, Indonesia, and Turkey, which generally welcome the idea of a strong China that could rival US military strength.
Indians, however, are more supportive of Chinese economic power — 53 per cent believe China's growing economy is a good thing for India.
Income is related to views about Chinese military and economic power, as wealthier Indians are more worried about China becoming a military rival to the US and more concerned about China as an economic threat to India.
First Published: Mar 01, 2006 10:59 IST