Thursday, July 14, 2005

India Loves America

The results of a study released in June by the Pew Global Attitudes Project show that India is the most pro-American country in the world. While the attitudes of several major European powers as well as former staunchly pro-U.S. nations like Canada and Poland have soured, it appears that an astonishing 71% of Indians give a thumbs-up to Uncle Sam. Even taking into account that the Pew survey may have overrepresented urban (and presumably more pro-American) areas, the 27% increase in favor since 2002 is tremendous--and at odds with the rising tide of anti-Americanism around the world.

So why is India so solidly pro-American? Part of it comes from the fact that so many Indian immigrants have found success in America, especially in respectable fields like medicine, engineering, and computers. But whereas in past decades it was virtually a necessity that Indians come to the U.S. to succeed, that is no longer the case. Thanks to India's blossoming economy and the tech boom that Thomas Friedman and others have chronicled, bright Indians (at least in urban areas) are able to thrive in their own country. With increased affluence, they are better able to identify with the West, and America in particular. Hence a former Soviet-aligned country now sees the United States as a vastly preferable model.

It is interesting to note that in Pakistan, our dubious "ally", only 23% of the public feel kindly toward us. "With friends like that..." comes to mind; add "impediment to GWOT (Global War on Terrorism)" to the list of reasons why a shift is needed in our outdated Pakistan-over-India policy in South Asia. To his credit, President Bush has been quick to realize the value of cultivating strong ties with India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is visiting the U.S. next week, and will be the guest of honor at the first state dinner of Bush's second term. While the pairing between two secular democracies and victims of terrorism may seem natural, it is long overdue. I'm glad to see them finally hooking up!

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