Biden’s popularity shot up in India in 2022

Washington, May 3 (IANS)
The approval of US leadership in the second year of President Joe Biden’s term shot up by double digits in India in 2022 — the year the Indian government came under considerable pressure from the US and Europe to toe their line on condemning and isolating Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
The US leadership’s popularity in India should have cratered instead. But it went up by 11 percentage points over 2021 to 49 per cent in 2022, in a poll of 137 countries by Gallup, which polled the world on the leadership of the US, Germany, Russia and China..
India was only 11 of the countries where the Biden administration saw an approval boost. The others included Poland (up by 30 points), Ukraine (by 29 points) and Israel (15 points up).
Everywhere else, the Biden administration scored poorly, and even dismally, especially in closely allied countries such as Greece (down by 31 points), Brazil (by 22 points), Canada (by 22 points) and the Netherlands (21 points). In fact, Biden’s global popularity median fell from 49 per cent in 2021 to 41 per cent.
Biden’s growing popularity in India will surprise those who once saw Indians root for his predecessor, President Donald Trump. A Chennai man had taken to worshipping a statue of Trump and he is reported to have died of cardiac arrest when Trump was hospitalised with Covid-19.
And in a diplomatically hazardous move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a second term for Trump at a rally the two leaders addressed jointly in Houston, Texas. Modi had sought to insert himself into US politics and it was noted by Democrats, many of whom remain leery of the Indian leader.
Gallup offered very little by way of explanation for these numbers. The jump in the numbers in India, for instance, was attributed to the Biden administration’s efforts to draw India closer amid its growing tensions with Russia and China.
That’s only partly true if at all. US efforts to prise India away from its historical ties with Russia and, more importantly, dependence on Russian arms, had quite the opposite effect.
New Delhi reasserted its need for strategic autonomy and pundits bristled at the temerity of a country that had sent its navy against India in the 1971 war against Pakistan to ask India to abandon Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union) that had stood with India then.
The two sides, however, also insulated the rest of the relationship from these tensions, and took significant strides on other fronts, both bilateral and multilateral.
The year 2021 was different. In the first half of Biden’s presidency, American leadership rebounded in popularity with respondents around the world.
He brought the US back into the Paris Accord on climate and other world bodies abandoned by the US under President Donald Trump.
The honeymoon ended in the second half of the year because of the shoddy American pullout of Afghanistan.
India was openly critical of it and during a visit to the US during the weeks leading to the actual pullout August-end, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar slammed the decision as driven by “political expediency”.
While acknowledging the US desire to leave Afghanistan some day, India wanted to see it leave behind a residual force as a check against the return of Pakistan’s influence through its proxies, the Taliban.

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