Guess the country Indians trust the most - surely not where they prefer to travel for higher education or health care or with whom they trade most.
A recent survey on foreign policy issues indicates most Indians trust neighbour
most. And not unexpectedly, Bangladesh
the least. Pakistan
The CNN-IBN-The Hindu Election Tracker Survey, conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, has revealed that while 37 per cent of
feel that relations with neighbours have improved under Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh's UPA coalition government, only 19 per cent disagreed with the
When asked which countries should
either trust a 'great deal' or 'somewhat', 48 per cent chose Bangladesh while 46 percent picked . Russia
This is somewhat surprising considering that leading Indian parties like the biggest Opposition BJP have run a persistent campaign about illegal migration from
Bangladesh and previous governments in that country
have been accused of sheltering insurgents and religious radicals who attacked
targets in . India
Even now the BJP and some regional parties like Asom Gana Parishad and Trinamool Congress are opposing a bill to be placed in the Parliament by the UPA government to formalise the land boundary agreement with
Not to speak of the anti-Bangladesh tirade that often surfaces in
northeastern states on the issue of illegal migration and leads to considerable
violence against settlers of East Bengali origin. Assam
"I think this has much to do with the way
has addressed 's
security concerns very comprehensively in the last five years. Unlike during
previous regimes, when insurgents from northeast India India
found sanctuary in ,"
Mukherjee told the Hindu. Bangladesh
He said public attitudes are often shaped by recent memory rather than by history, which may explain why so many Indians feel
can be trusted. Bangladesh
Mukherjee also felt many Indians may be suffering from a 'sense of guilt '.
"I am speculating that this could also be a result of a sense of guilt because
India has not delivered what should
have delivered on and reciprocated, be it on Teesta waters or the land boundary
agreement," Mukherjee said. India
There is also a growing recognition that
has performed well on social indicators and even its economy is doing rather
India's rupee has fallen from 47-48 to 59-60 for
a dollar, 's
Taka has appreciated from 84 to a dollar to 77 a dollar in a year's time. Bangladesh
For the first time in its independent history,
has a current account surplus of $2.57 billion , while 's current account is woefully
in the red. India
And against all expectations,
is on course to achieve its 2015 UN millennium goals in poverty alleviation two
years before time within 2013. Bangladesh
In their recent book, An Uncertain Glory, economists Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze have noted that
India has a lot
to learn from
in human development index. Bangladesh
Former Secretary (East) in
ministry of external affairs Rajiv Sikri has publicly called Bangladesh " 's most important neighbour'
during a recent conference in Kolkata. India
Anuradha Chenoy, professor at the
School of International Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru
University (JNU) and a Russia
expert, recounted that this trust had 'wavered' after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"Sections of the middle class, and the strategic elite, begun having aspirations that they should only go with the
But after ten years of the strategic partnership with US, and its attitudes on
a range of issues, there is a renewed faith in old partners, in US , and in
the South-South framework." Russia
This, she added, did not mean a reversal to 'Cold War politics', but an 'independent foreign policy'.
54 per cent of the respondents said
should have 'no trust at all' in , while only 14 per cent
said there should be a 'great deal' or some trust in the country. Pakistan
These findings come soon after a poll done by the Australia-India Institute and the Low Institute for International Policy, which said that 94 percent of Indians see
as a threat, while 78 per cent see it as a major threat. Pakistan
But their study also showed that 89 percent believe that ordinary people in both countries want peace. So there's an window of opportunity to use -- people-to-people contact may help.
That should mean there is a window of opportunity to improve relations with
China , specially if India
reacts positively to Li Keqiang's 'handshake across the Himalayas'
and work on specific proposals like developing the BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar)
economic corridor .
"This indicates that while there are sections pandering to jingoism about
China, there's equal or more people in who
believe the two Asian giants can develop a great future relationship. India
This could also be the result of the growing disillusionment with US, a strategic partner of
but with whom relations have plummeted on a host of controversial issues. India
First appeared in IBN-CNN blog, July 29, 2013