Tuesday, March 18, 2008

India's image has changed in United States

India's image has changed in United States

op-ed piece by me published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle today.

Buried under the deluge of the media blitz surrounding the Obama-Clinton fracas and Gov. Spitzer's shenanigans was an interesting news item about the results of Gallup's World Affairs Survey 2008. This survey rated the perceptions (favorable vs. unfavorable) about various countries among the American population.
Not surprisingly, of the 22 countries rated in the survey, long time friends Canada, Great Britain, Germany and Japan were at the top of the "favorable" list, winning the favor of at least 80 percent of Americans.
I was pleased to see my own country of origin, India, at the sixth position (69 percent favorable) alongside France and right behind U.S. ally Israel (71 percent favorable).
There are several reasons that can explain the growing positive image of India among Americans:

  • Shared democratic values and commonly cherished ideals of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
  • Efforts by the Indian community to assimilate with the U.S. mainstream. Strong focus on self-help without being a drain on the larger community. No longer are images of poor, starving children the only iconic images from India.
  • The contributions of Indian professionals — doctors, engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs.
  • Increasing popularity of Indian traditions in the mainstream socio-cultural milieu — yoga, karma, chai tea, Bollywood and others. What started off as a trickle with Mahesh Yogi, Ravi Shankar and the Beatles in the 1960s is a veritable deluge now.
  • Strong cooperation on the anti-terrorism front with a nuclear cooperation treaty also on the anvil. Many in the United States see India as a strong bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism as well as a counter to China's growing military power.

On the bottom end of the scale, Iran, North Korea, the Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Cuba are viewed more negatively than positively by a greater than 2-to-1 margin. China is in the company of Pakistan and Russia as the only countries to see their favorable scores decline significantly over the past year.

Gallup found some significant partisan gaps in favorability toward some countries. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are all viewed more favorably by Republicans than by Democrats. France, Mexico, China, Venezuela and Cuba are all viewed more favorably by Democrats than by Republicans.

Interesting findings indeed. One will see them ebb and rise as relationships with the United States evolve in a complex geopolitical scenario. The focus should be on how people from other countries can be "goodwill ambassadors" for their own countries as they continue to assimilate here.


KALYAN said...

Is the new found love, economic in content?

Deepak Seth said...

Money counts...definitely. A rich India is more cute & cuddly than the erstwhile poor India

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