What the world’s largest democracy thinks of the world’s oldest democracy

Image: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
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It’s official: An overwhelming number of Indians love America.

The Pew Research Center surveyed 2,452 Indian respondents for its latest report on worldwide public opinion of the US, China and the state of the world’s balance of power.

Here are a few charts showing what Indians really think about the United States in 2015.

Around the world, America’s overall image has remained largely intact –—especially in Asia and Africa– —with a median of 69% of the total respondents holding a favourable outlook for the country. While Indians see America as a particularly close ally (70%), across the border in Pakistan, the opposite is true, with more than half (62%) expressing a negative view.

According to the data, India’s opinion of the US has rapidly changed. Backed by improving relations between the world’s two largest democracies—and a bonhomie between their leaders—India’s rating of the US has jumped by 14% since 2013.

This is in contrast to China, where opinion has mostly remained unchanged—and Russia, where America’s ratings continue to fall.

Indians seem to have much faith in US president Barack Obama, even though his ratings have taken a hit in America. About three-fourths of people in India surveyed believe that Obama takes bold, positive decisions on world affairs, up from 48% a year ago. Opinion in China, however, was sharply divided, with 44% of respondents reporting confidence in the US president, and another 41% doubting his leadership capabilities in international affairs.

Overall, however, Obama has globally improved his image and remains immensely popular in Europe, Asia and Africa.

As the world debates over whether to label the interrogation methods used by the United States in its war on terror after September 11 as torture, respondents in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America said that they did not believe the US was justified in using them.

But India stands in sharp contrast, with 57% of respondents saying they believe the US was justified in using its interrogation methods.

While many countries believe that China will eventually overtake the United States and become the world’s superpower, Indians appear unsure. This could be in part because India harbours its own goals towards becoming a global superpower.

Editor’s note: Readers on Facebook have questioned our calling the US the world’s oldest democracy. We agree this is a contentious categorization. We’ll be returning to it in another post.