Tag Archive for 'India and US'

India will be the United States’ most important ally: Pew survey


At International Business Times:

India is likely to emerge as America’s most important ally in the future, according to a survey of expert members of the Council on Foreign Relations by the Pew Research Center.

The Pew Research Center asked more than 1,800 CFR members which countries they thought would “be more important as America’s allies and partners,” allowing respondents to list up to seven economies.

India was the economy mentioned the most, followed by China and Brazil. Even though China has a larger GDP than India and is growing at a faster rate, it is a socialist republic. More:

India gets special treatment in GOP platform

From Foreign Policy:

Take a close look at the draft platform that Politico discovered on the Republican National Committee’s website on Friday, and you’ll see that the Republican party arguably lavishes more praise on India than on any country mentioned in the document except Israel and Taiwan. The plan reads:

We welcome a stronger relationship with the world’s largest democracy, India, both economic and cultural, as well as in terms of national security. We hereby affirm and declare that India is our geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner. We encourage India to permit greater foreign investment and trade. We urge protection for adherents of all India’s religions. Both as Republicans and as Americans, we note with pride the contributions to this country that are being made by our fellow citizens of Indian ancestry.

More here

Also read: For first time, GOP manifesto calls India a ‘strategic ally’

WikiLeak: Rahul Gandhi on Hindu terror

From The Indian Express:

A leaked US diplomatic cable quotes Rahul Gandhi as saying that Hindu radical groups pose a bigger threat to India than the Lashkar-e-Toiba as they create “religious tensions” with the Muslim community.

Another US cable, put out by WikiLeaks, criticises Sonia Gandhi’s leadership in the run-up to the civil nuclear Bill in Parliament in 2007 and describes CPM leader Prakash Karat as an “extortionist”.

In a conversation with US Ambassador Timothy Roemer in July last year, Rahul Gandhi is quoted as saying that while there is evidence of local support for the LeT in India, the greater threat for the country is the growth of radicalism within the Hindu community.

“Responding to the Ambassador’s query about Lashkar-e-Toiba’s activities in the region and immediate threat to India, Gandhi said there was evidence of some support for the group among certain elements in India’s indigenous Muslim community. However, Gandhi warned, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalized Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community,” stated the leaked cable. The cable is based on a conversation between Roemer and Rahul on July 20 last year during a lunch hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for visiting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. More:

Obama, India and China

Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times:

Don’t believe everything you read in the paper. Take this headline that appeared a couple weeks ago, when I was in New Delhi, in The Hindustan Times: “U.S. Not Seeking to Contain China: Clinton.” It was referring to a statement made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while on a swing through Asia. No, Washington is not trying to contain China the way we once did the Soviet Union, but President Obama didn’t just spend three days in India to improve his yoga.

His visit was intended to let China know that America knows that India knows that Beijing’s recent “aggressiveness,” as one Indian minister put it to me, has China’s neighbors a bit on edge. None of China’s neighbors dare mention the C-word — containment — in public. Indeed, none of them want to go there at all or intend to promote such a policy. But there’s a new whiff of anxiety in the Asian air.

All of China’s neighbors want China to know, as the sign says: “Don’t even think about parking here.” Don’t even think about using your growing economic and military clout to just impose your claims in border disputes and over oil-rich islands in the South China Sea. Because, if you do, all of China’s neighbors will be doomed to become America’s new best friends — including India.

That’s why each one of China’s neighbors is eager to have a picture of their president standing with Secretary Clinton or President Obama — with the unspoken caption that reads: “Honestly, China, we don’t want to throttle you. We don’t want an Asian cold war. We just want to trade and be on good terms. But, please, stay between the white lines. Don’t even think about parking in my space because, if you do, I have this friend from Washington, and he’s really big. … And he’s got his own tow truck.” More:

Obama to India: Yes, we can

Foreign policy analyst C. Raja Mohan on President Obama’s visit to India. In the Indian Express:

Invoking and celebrating the idea of India, US President Barack Obama this evening underlined how the shared values between the two countries could — and should — forge an enduring partnership in the 21st Century. Wrapping up his three-day visit with an address to both Houses of Parliament, Obama directly addressed India’s aspirations for a seat at the global high table and its deep concerns about cross-border terrorism.

He said he “looks forward” to Delhi’s permanent membership of a “reformed” United Nations Security Council and declared that terror networks on Pakistani soil are “unacceptable”.

While his assurance on the UNSC can’t be translated into reality any time soon, his promise to press the “Pakistan leadership to bring Mumbai attackers to justice,” is of more immediate consequence for India.

If Bill Clinton moved the United States towards neutrality in Indo-Pak disputes and George W. Bush removed the perennial hyphen between Delhi and Islamabad, Obama, the third US President to visit India in a decade, may have opened the door for Indo-US cooperation on regional security. More:

‘I might not be standing before you today had it not been for Gandhi, his message ’: Obama’s address to Indian Parliament

Excerpts in The Indian Express:

Just as India has changed, so too has the relationship between our two nations. In the decades after independence, India advanced its interests as a proud leader of the nonaligned movement. Yet too often, the US and India found ourselves on opposite sides of a North-South divide and estranged by a long Cold War. Those days are over.

Here in India, two successive governments led by different parties have recognised that deeper partnership with America is both natural and necessary. In the United States, both of my predecessors—one Democrat, one Republican—worked to bring us closer, leading to increased trade and a landmark civil nuclear agreement.

Since then, people in both our countries have asked: what next? How can we build on this progress and realise the full potential of our partnership? That is what I want to address today—the future that the United States seeks in an interconnected world; why I believe that India is indispensable to this vision; and how we can forge a truly global partnership—not in just one or two areas, but across many; not just for our mutual benefit, but for the world’s…

The relationship between our countries is unique. For we are two strong democracies whose constitutions begin with the same revolutionary words—“We the people”. We are two great Republics dedicated to the liberty, justice and the equality of all people. And we are two free market economies where people have the freedom to pursue ideas and innovations that can change the world. This is why I believe that India and America are indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of our time… Let me say it as clearly as I can: the United States not only welcomes India as a rising global power, we fervently support it, and we have worked to help make it a reality. More:

Obama backs India for Security Council seat

From the New York Times:

President Obama announced here on Monday that the United States will back India’s bid for a permanent seat on an expanded United Nations Security Council, a major policy shift that could aggravate China, which opposes such a move.

Mr. Obama made the announcement — a priority for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — during a late afternoon speech to Parliament.

“The just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate,” the president said. “That is why I can say today — in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.”

Members of Parliament reacted with sustained applause. But neither the president nor his top advisers offered a timetable for how long it would take to reform the council, or specifics about what steps the United States would take to do so. Last month, India won a two-year non-permanent seat on the council, which currently has five permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

But expanding the body will be a complicated endeavor that will require the cooperation of other countries and could easily take years. “This is bound to be a very difficult process and it’s bound to take a significant amount of time,” William J. Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said here. More:

Obama meets students in Mumbai

US president Barack Obama and wife Michelle interacted with a gathering of young students, who came armed with some pertinent questions, at the prestigious St Xavier’s College in Mumbai.

Obama invokes Gandhi

Jim Yardley in The New York Times:

New Delhi: Not long after Barack Obama was elected president, the United States Embassy in India printed a postcard showing him sitting in his old Senate office beneath framed photographs of his political heroes: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and the great Indian apostle of peace, democracy and nonviolent protest, Mohandas K. Gandhi.

The postcard was a trinket of public diplomacy, a souvenir of the new president’s affinity for India. Now that Mr. Obama is visiting India for the first time, on a trip pitched as a jobs mission, his fascination with Gandhi is influencing his itinerary and his message as he tries to win over India’s skeptical political class.

“He is a hero not just to India, but to the world,” the president wrote in a guest book on Saturday in Gandhi’s modest former home in Mumbai, now the Mani Bhavan museum.

Yet if paying homage to Gandhi is expected of visiting dignitaries, Mr. Obama’s more personal identification with the Gandhian legacy — the president once named him the person he would most like to dine with — places him on complicated terrain. More:

Also read:

America and India: The Almost-Special Relationship

Mr. Obama’s trip is an attempt to reboot or refocus the relationship away from these disputes and de-emphasize the tangible goodies (for example, contracts) that politicians call “deliverables.” Instead, the two sides are discussing how they can partner on education, clean energy, agriculture, technological development and military cooperation. More in NYT

Can Obama save the India alliance?

As the president hits India, he will find it is still George W. Bush country. Tunku Varadarajan in The Daily Beast on an alliance that Obama has allowed to wither on the vine:

Barack Obama’s visit to India, starting Saturday, may offer him some small respite from the drubbing that has made this week the nadir of his political life; but if he’s looking (a la Elizabeth Gilbert/Julia Roberts) for some Eastern salve for his battered soul, he isn’t going to find it in Mumbai or New Delhi. Obama will encounter a hospitable people, of course: Indians are never unkind to their guests. Why, they’re even stripping coconuts from trees that line a path he’s scheduled to walk down, lest a hard nut ping him on his un-turbanned head. But he will find little of the spontaneous warmth and genuine bonhomie that was lavished on George W. Bush when the latter visited India in 2006.

Two years after Bush’s departure from the White House, India is still Bush Country—a giant (if foreign) Red State, to use the American political taxonomy. By that I mean that the political establishment and much of the non-leftist intelligentsia still looks back with dewy-eyed fondness to the time when India’s relations with the United States flowered extravagantly under Bush. It wasn’t just a matter of securing a mold-breaking nuclear deal with Washington; it was a case of India dealing, for the first time in the uneven history of its relations with the United States, with an American president who saw India as a partner-in-civilization.

Bogged down in health care and bailouts at home, and in “Afpak” abroad, Obama has let the alliance with India wither on the vine. This has frustrated India deeply, especially as a perception came to grip New Delhi that some of Obama’s neglect was payback to India for its closeness to his predecessor. India pushed back hard and furiously at Obama’s early, tone-deaf attempt to foist Richard Holbrooke on the Indian subcontinent as some sort of “Kashmir czar,” and New Delhi has returned, to a noticeable extent, to the pre-Bush method of dealing with America: watch first, and closely; trust later, and sparingly. It is remarkable how an alliance that had seemed so electrifying—indeed, one that had all the hallmarks of a “paradigm shift” in international relations—has been so quickly squandered. More:

A model of development worth building

Akash Kapur in The New York Times:

President Barack Obama arrives in India this weekend, accompanied by a retinue that occupies two jumbo jets.

His visit coincides with Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, and his meetings will no doubt have a bright, upbeat tone. But his trip is unlikely to ease a nagging sense in India that ties between the two countries have suffered something of a downgrade under his administration.

The anxiety stems not from any overt hostility toward India, but rather from a perception that Mr. Obama’s much-vaunted pragmatism, combined with a litany of woes in the United States, leave little room for the type of strategic relationship the countries seemed to be building under President George W. Bush. As the Indian columnist Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar recently wrote, “Obama is focusing on urgent short-term issues and not on the strategic long term.”

The short-term focus is perhaps understandable. But a relationship with India based too purely on pragmatism — on immediate, tangible returns in the battle against terrorism, for example, or in bolstering trade — does not do justice to what is potentially India’s most valuable contribution to the United States. It overlooks the fact that the United States’ true strategic opportunity comes not from what might be called India’s overt power — its military might and economic clout — but rather its symbolic power: the possibility it holds to serve as a model for developing nations around the world. More:

It’s morning in India

Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times:

What is most striking to me being in India this week, though, is how many Indians, young and old, expressed their concerns that America also seems at times to be running away from the world it invented and that India is adopting.

With President Obama scheduled to come here next week, at a time when more than a few U.S. politicians are loudly denouncing immigration reforms, free trade expansion and outsourcing, more than a few Indian business leaders want to ask the president: “What’s up with that?” Didn’t America export to the world all the technologies and free market dogmas that created this increasingly flat, global economic playing field — and now you’re turning against them?

“It is the Silicon Valley revolution which enabled the massive rise in tradable services and the U.S.-built telecommunication networks that allowed creation of the virtual office,” Nayan Chanda, the editor of YaleGlobal Online, wrote in the Indian magazine Businessworld this week. “But the U.S. seems sadly unprepared to take advantage of the revolution it has spawned. The country’s worn-out infrastructure, failing education system and lack of political consensus have prevented it from riding a new wave to prosperity.” Ouch. More:

US and India

As Barack Obama becomes the third US President to visit India in the last decade, C Raja Mohan looks at why the visit is different from previous ones and what to expect. In The Indian Express:

When Barack Hussein Obama arrives in Mumbai next Saturday, he will be launching only the fifth presidential visit from America since India gained independence more than 60 years ago.

The fact that Obama is the third president to travel to India in the last decade, however, shows how much Washington and Delhi have begun to matter to each other. The ‘wasted decades’—former foreign minister Jaswant Singh’s description of the prolonged period of estrangement between India and the United States during the second half of the twentieth century—are now behind us.

Beyond the new intensity and frequency of bilateral engagement, Obama’s visit underlines one little-understood but fundamental change in the context of the India-US relations.

Until recently, Delhi constantly worried about how the United States, the world’s foremost power, might hurt India. On the eve of President Clinton’s visit to India in March 2000, Delhi was concerned that the United States will ramp up the pressure against India’s nuclear weapons programme. It was also afraid that Clinton will side with Pakistan on the question of Jammu and Kashmir. More:

Obama should visit Tawang monastery

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar in The Times of India:

Visits that are remembered are gamechanging ones, like the George W Bush-Manmohan Singh nuclear summit. Can President Obama make his visit a gamechanging one? Here are two suggestions. First, he must visit the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh. Second, he must declare emphatically and repeatedly that the US will do everything it can to stop China from supplying two new nuclear reactors to Pakistan.

Obama wishes to have good relations with China and Pakistan, not just India. Politics dictates that he will try to be all things to all the countries he visits, and avoid statements and policies that may strengthen relations with one country at the expense of the other. Yet, if the longterm strategic partnership proposed by Bush and supported by Obama has substance, it must include the vision of India as a democratic counter to an economically and militarily powerful China that might throw its weight around aggressively in Asia. Hopefully this will not lead to hostilities, and neither India nor the US should even remotely think of any sort of military pact.

What is needed is a US gesture that will show strategic support for India without totally alienating China or creating the potential for military confrontation. An Obama visit to Tawang will be exactly such a gesture. It will be an effective way of signaling US support to India’s claims in Arunachal Pradesh.

China will of course express outrage, since it claims that Tawang is part of Tibet and hence of its own territory. China even objected to the Dalai Lama visiting Tawang. More:

The return of the Raj

Whether the world is ready or not, India is set to become a global power. The United States, says C. Raja Mohan, ought to be the first to welcome the fact. From The American Interest:

It is not clear what French President Nicolas Sarkozy had in mind when he invited a contingent of 400 Indian troops to march down the Champs-Élysées for the Bastille Day parade in 2009. But Paris might be on to something that Washington has missed, in spite of its more intensive military engagement with India in recent years. Although Paris does not have the power to engineer international structural changes in New Delhi’s favor, it has often been ahead of Washington in strategizing about India. In its effort to build a partnership with India, ongoing since the mid-1990s, France has helped India renegotiate its position in the global nuclear order: It provided diplomatic cover when India defied the world with nuclear tests in May 1998, promoted the idea of changing the global non-proliferation rules to facilitate civilian nuclear cooperation with India, and worked with the Bush Administration to get the international community to endorse India’s nuclear exceptionalism.

Of course, Sarkozy’s motives might have been merely tactical: a move to butter up Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was among the honored guests at the parade, or to raise its share of India’s rapidly expanding market for advanced arms. But Paris is capable of more than tactics: It may sense the prospects of a fundamental change in India’s defense orientation and its potential to contribute significantly to international security politics in the 21st century. It may see that a rising India, which runs one of the world’s major economies and fields a large armed force, will eventually bear some of the military burdens of maintaining the global order. More:

George W. Bush on India and Pakistan

Former US President George W. Bush is in New Delhi as a private citizen to participate in the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. He spoke to Pramit Palchaudhuri of Hindustan Times about his present life, why he sought to change the Indo-US relationship, and the global role he sees India fulfilling:

bushQ. How do you keep yourself busy these day?

I’m giving a lot of speeches, some thirty are lined up. I’m also working on a book. Making speeches is an interesting way to make a living, gives me a chance to share some of the experiences I had as president. The book will be about the decisions I made as president and as you know I had some pretty consequential decisions to make. I just want people to get an idea of what it was like. It’s really going to be a book for history. It’s not going to be a slash and burn type book. It will be a book about the environment in which I had to make some tough calls. And then it will let the reader to make up his own mind as to what he would have done. There is an autobiographical component to it. But it’s really about my days as president. We are having a good time. The book should be out, hopefully, next year.

Click here to read the full interview.

Bush told Anil Padmanabhan of Mint: “I think the way out is for the United States to help the Pakistan government in dealing with these extremists.”

During your first visit to India you set the stage for the bilateral relationship between India and the US. Now you return as a private citizen. What are your thoughts?

First of all, the bilateral relationship forged with previous prime ministers is important for America and I believe it is good for the region and good for the world. India is an important country and it is one with which America shares values.

Secondly, its importance is becoming more relevant as the world recovers from the economic downturn. I think historians will look back and say that isn’t it interesting that one of the reasons behind the recovery is India and other emerging countries like her. That would not have been said 20 or 30 years ago. So, India is a country of vital importance. It is important for peace and prosperity. More here.

India’s secret war on Holbrooke

Laura Rozen in Foreign Policy on India’s stealth lobbying against Richard Holbrooke’s brief:

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — flanked by President Obama — introduced Richard Holbrooke as the formidable new U.S. envoy to South Asia at a State Department ceremony on Thursday, India was noticeably absent from his title.

Holbrooke, the veteran negotiator of the Dayton accords and sharp-elbowed foreign policy hand who has long advised Clinton, was officially named “special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan” in what was meant to be one of the signature foreign policy acts of Obama’s first week in office.

But the omission of India from his title, and from Clinton’s official remarks introducing the new diplomatic push in the region was no accident — not to mention a sharp departure from Obama’s own previously stated approach of engaging India, as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan, in a regional dialogue. Multiple sources told The Cable that India vigorously — and successfully — lobbied the Obama transition team to make sure that neither India nor Kashmir was included in Holbrooke’s official brief.

“When the Indian government learned Holbrooke was going to do [Pakistan]-India, they swung into action and lobbied to have India excluded from his purview,” relayed one source. “And they succeeded. Holbrooke’s account officially does not include India.”


And click here to read The Washington Post story.

Previously in AW:

Holbrooke named envoy to Subcontinent

From IHT:

Richard Holbrooke, a former United Nations ambassador, was chosen Thursday for the post of special envoy to Pakistan and India.

[ Update: India managed to trim Holbrooke's portfolio to Pakistan and Afghanistan -- basically eliminating the contested region of Kashmir from his job description. Click here to read The Washington Post story]

Holbrooke has more than 45 years of foreign policy and diplomatic experience, including brokering a peace pact between warring factions in Bosnia that led to the 1995 Dayton peace accords.

Holbrooke, who supported Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton during the Democratic primaries, is good friends with two early supporters of Barack Obama: James Johnson, who headed Obama’s vice-presidential search team, and Samantha Power, the Pulitzer Prize-winning human rights expert. And Holbrooke took pains to avoid criticism of Obama.


The President-elect and India

Martha Nussbaum in 3quarksdaily:

I should like to focus on a letter written by then-candidate Obama to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, dated September 23, 2008, and published in India Abroad, the October 10 issue. I address these remarks to my former University of Chicago Law School colleague in the spirit of the type of respectful yet searching criticism that I know he will recognize as a hallmark of our faculty workshops and discussions.

The Obama letter has three slightly disturbing characteristics.

First, the letter gives lengthy praise to the nuclear deal, without acknowledging the widespread debate about the wisdom of that deal in both nations. Perhaps, however, this silence simply reflects politeness: Obama is surely aware that Singh has been an enthusiastic backer of the deal, risking much political capital in the process.

Second, the letter speaks of future cooperation that will “tap the creativity and dynamism of our entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists,” particularly in the area of alternative energy sources, but never mentions a future partnership in the effort to eradicate poverty and illiteracy. This silence, unlike the first, cannot be explained by politeness, since Singh has devoted a great deal of attention to issues of rural poverty, and it is plausible to think that he could have gotten a lot further had he had more help from abroad.

[Martha Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at The University of Chicago, and the author of The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future.]