Young Americans like India more

The mutual popularity of India and United States

Results from Gallup’s latest Country Favourability poll (linkthanks Rohit Pradhan) show that India continues to be among the most popular countries in the United States. There’s been a slight decline in percentage of respondents who rated India positively—from 69% in 2008 to 66% in 2010—but this is part of an overall trend affecting other countries too. Either US public opinion is seeing the world a little less favourably (hey, even Canada —Canada!—dropped 2%) or it’s something to do with statistics.

Notably India is more popular with younger Americans—76% in the age group of 18-34, 67% in the age group of 35-54 but only 60% among people 55 years or older. That holds promise for the future.

The love is more than reciprocated. Pew Global Attitudes survey results over the last few years show that the United States’ popularity in India has been steadily rising since 2006, and last year stood at a record high of 76% among those surveyed.

But does the United States’ popularity suggest an endorsement of the US leadership? The Pew survey suggests that Indians have more confidence in President Obama than in President George W Bush (77% vs 55%); but a Gallup poll shows that their approval ratings fell in the same period (from 31% in 2008 to 26% in 2009). Different surveys, different questions yes, but to the extent that the questions are related, the responses point in opposing directions.

President Obama’s campaign rhetoric (remember the reference to Bangalore and that bit about appointing a special envoy for Kashmir?) and policy agenda in his first year (approach to China, Af-Pak policy) might have contributed to increase in Indian disapproval. On the other hand, his persona might have caused Indians, like their American counterparts, to have greater confidence in his leadership.

From the archive: March 2008: 7 in 10 Americans think favourably of India (what happened to the other three?)

On throwing shoes at President Bush

The sole might have been size 10. But the man who wore it was size zero.

The uncouth Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at President Bush during a press conference in Baghdad last week is now being lionised in many Islamic countries. (The Taliban have announced that they will intercede to secure his release from Iraqi authorities.) Of course, those who dislike Mr Bush have been smirking too. These people don’t realise that by throwing those two shoes Muntazir al-Zaidi paid the highest compliment to Mr Bush—he proved that regardless of the political chaos in their country, the Iraqis have freedom.

No one would have dared to try this under Saddam Hussein’s regime. At any rate, as Offstumped tweeted (through a telepathic intercept) no one would have gotten away alive and unhurt.