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How Indians View Themselves and America

March 2007
How Indians View Themselves and America

A poll conducted by the BBC towards the end of last year found that although many (71 percent) have a positive sense of being Indian, a good number (58 percent) also believe that "India's security is more in danger from other Indians than from foreigners." While 65 percent feel that India should be a superpower, about 55 percent don't think they and their families have personally benefited. The outcome was fairly distributed across income, age, education and religious groups. Despite favorable views of the Indian state, 48 percent prefer to work for private firms as opposed to the more secure government sector. More than half the respondents (52 percent) don't think women face barriers to success, while 55 percent agree that the justice system is equally fair to rich and poor people. Yet, according to the survey, "Indians also show a level of ambivalence about the country's traditions and heritage," with 55 percent agreeing that the caste system is an obstacle to peace and prosperity. Though many older Indians (over 65 years) seem resigned to high levels of corruption, the younger ones—especially in the 18-25 age group—are much less tolerant; only 45 percent see it as a fact of life in India.

In related news, a fresh poll by the BBC this year found that Indians, among 24 other nationalities, have a more pessimistic view of America's role in the world. "Positive views of U.S. influence in the world havedropped sharply to 30 percent (from 54 percent in 2005 and 44 percent in 2006), while negative views are on the rise, jumping to 28 percent (up from 17 percent in 2006)," the survey points out. Though only 20 percent of Indians think the U.S. is playing a positive role in the Middle East, they're more hopeful about American involvement with Iran (46 percent) and North Korea 41%

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