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?)

10 thoughts on “Young Americans like India more”

  1. Hi,

    Some of us older people in the US remember that India, while officially nonaligned, used to lean toward the Soviet Union. Also, back in the 1980s there was a fair amount of pro-Pakistan propaganda here in the US, as a side effect of our supporting the Afghan resistance against the Russians. So older people in the US formed generally anti-India attitudes corresponding to the US elite’s attitude toward India in the 70’s and 80’s. Some of them have held onto these attitudes. By contrast people in their 20’s and 30’s are mostly unaware that there ever was tension between the US and India.


    PS It’s not clear that US enthusiasm for India will remain high. Some compute people I know think of Indians mostly as competitors willing to underprice them in the market for software developers. As outsourcing grows, enthusiasm for India among upper middle class Americans may decline.

  2. Bah! Who cares?

    Americans liking a country or not is more often a reflection of US foreign policy than it is the other way around.

    No offence but most of them (they are good people) can’t point out even US on a map.

    Bottomline: Do not expect much change on US foreign policy toward India. Unless India becomes Japan, relinquishes it’s nukes and “accomodates” Pentagon by lining up the country with US bases! Which the current govt in India, if it has things it’s way, might end up doing who knows!

  3. It’s not clear that US enthusiasm for India will remain high. Some compute people I know think of Indians mostly as competitors willing to underprice them in the market for software developers. As outsourcing grows, enthusiasm for India among upper middle class Americans may decline.

    I think this is a rather narrow way to look at things – there is no doubt that there are a lot of concerns about off-shoring work among American IT workers but opinions of India are not formed merely by one issue.

    For starters many Americans understand the reasons for off-shoring even if they don’t agree with what is going on. From my experience, American’s opinions of India are shaped by the Indians that they interact with in life on day to day basis. They are not tied to any policies or issues in particular.

    Also, they are more than relieved that we are not aiming for their throats and planning to kill them at the first available opportunity.

    Indian’s approval of Obama shows that most Indians have no clue about the role that he played in trying to scuttle the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, his unnecessary nose poking in Kashmir, and his generally hostile attitude to off-shoring and the interests of India in the AfPak region.(He is still bitter about the Kashmir re-buff and the Copenhagen disaster)

    Even worse, George W gets lower approval ratings – and he was THE REASON the Indo-US nuclear deal (with all its failings) came through. No one seems to have any appreciation for how Bush stood up to the anti-nuclear ayotollahs in the Democrat party and those in his own Cabinet (Gates and Rice were opposed to the deal)

    And no Dubya did not demonize off -shoring the way Obama constantly does. As far as AfPak goes, even though he did back Musharaff to hilt hurting India in the process.Obama has now made India’s position significantly worse.

  4. Ray has a point. May be the poll is not conducted among the US s/w engineers.

    @Nagarajan Sivakumar
    When people’s job is being targeted, they don’t think about anything else. There is no place for reasoning in that situation. So what Ray told holds true.

  5. Clearly George Bush was the best president India ever had in Washington. During senate debate, Obama during his senate days was making a negative argument on Ind- US nuclear deal whilst Bush was working tirelessly to push the deal for senate approval. But I must say, VP Biden, then as a senator, was very strong in his support of the deal. At every stage Bush personally took enormous interest to get the deal thru, hats off to him. China wanted to play a villain in NSG and IAEA discussions, again Bush threatened china and only then china withdrew its posturing. Media, on its part has failed to highlight the importance of the deal to indian public. Responsible journalism is a shortcoming on nonpolitical issues like Nuclear Deal. People including the diaspora have not grasped the once in a lifetime nature of the opportunity that bush has thrown in to Indias lap, which the coalition govt in Delhi almost scuttled. The lame excuse then was a falsely perceived notion that Indias bomb capability will be erased. It’s a miracle that the deal had been signed and sealed. Bush deserves a BharatRatna for this selfless work. Obama makes derogatory comments every now and then, that India is a competition to US because of its continuous supply of software engineers, huge pool of its Scientists and resourcing etc. Surya, chicago

  6. As someone before me commented. Who cares!
    US goes against India in 71. India goes against US in xyz places. What goes around comes around.
    Though must agree with somebody, that Bush apparently has been shortchanged. The guy helps these stupid Americans to use some muscles and help 1 bil people strive for there energy security and these fools go around trying to match the Peace nuts. Had US handled Afg. well, they would never have seen 9/11. And a country that bungled up the region with Pakistan could only have ended up with the ‘Airlift of evil’ and now can only run with its tail between its legs. For some people riches become there weakness.
    Indians need to deal with the Americans at an arms length.

  7. The uproar in the US over outsourcing to India has settled to a large extend in past few years. Lou Dobbs of CNN was the biggest anti-outsourcing guy on TV in early to mid 2000’s. But in the past couple of years he had shifted his focus on manufacturing jobs and trade deficit with China. And now he is retired from CNN as well. The point is there still might be resentment amongst the hardcore computer technology guys, but by and large the public is more concerned with every thing that they buy having “MADE IN CHINA” Logo. They see that logo every day and rightfully so the US trade deficit with China is huge and artificially created by the Chinese currency manipulation. Where as India buys a lot from America too and as a result the trade is more fair and I believe beneficial to both. May be more to India because India’s starting level is lover. But it doesn’t hurt the over all US economy as China. I hope that India – US trade relation grows in a way that benefits both countries.

  8. How many disgruntled software engineers can there be in the united states? And of those how many are asked their opinion on india by a polling group or a foreign policy rag – not many, I would guess.

  9. I would like to the India liking Americans to come and survive in India. It will be interesting to see how much they like India then.

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