Who’s afraid of globalization? Of marauding Americans? Or an economic downturn? Not Indians, for sure.
The Pew Global Attitudes Survey 2008 shows that we welcome foreign investment and trade. We are also one of the most confident countries amid the encircling global economic gloom. And we want friendship with the US. More than 24,000 people across 24 major nations were asked earlier this year about what they felt on various issues, from economic prospects to the US presidential elections to how major countries such as India, China and the US are perceived. The overall mood in the world has got darker as economies run into trouble; most continue to dislike the US, though its image is gradually improving; and the general belief is that US foreign policy will improve for the better if Barack Obama becomes the next president of that country.
(Illustration by: Malay Karmakar / Mint)
Indians are generally happier with trade and investment from the rest of the world than just about every other country. Nine out of every 10 Indians say that foreign trade is either very good or somewhat good for the country. And six out of every 10 welcome foreigners buying Indian companies. That is most likely the result of 17 years of economic reforms that have raised average Indian incomes. A solid majority also holds very positive views of the economy, quite unlike the rest of the world. But the ratings have dropped sharply over the past year.
We are also strongly pro-American: 66% of Indians have a favourable view of the US, up seven percentage points since the previous survey conducted in 2007. America does not have that sort of support in Europe (only 33% of Germans see it in a positive light), China (41%) and the Muslim world (22% in Egypt).
Many of these findings are similar to earlier Pew surveys. There are paradoxes here. How does one explain the enthusiasm for globalization with the inability of any political party to fashion a winning electoral platform based on it? Does it really help to be pro-American when the Americans themselves are more suspicious about foreign trade than citizens of any other country?
Despite these paradoxes, there is little doubt that India has changed since 1991. We are now a more confident people and less paranoid about globalization. As ever, the challenge is for someone to craft a political strategy that is openly committed to free markets and good governance.
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