My book IMPLOSION: India’s Tryst with Reality is being launched this evening and is now in bookshops in Delhi and on line – soon it will be across India – sales abroad will come later
This morning the Wall Street Journal’s India Real Time news website has run an except with the headline above – see below and click here for the full spread. In the foreign policy chapters, I question India’s limited role abroad and its reluctance to emerge as an international player:
“India has learned that it can say ‘no’ to the US…and the US has learned – maybe with some surprise – that India is not prepared to become an obedient ally, and that it will not dutifully follow American wishes on foreign policy or on quickly opening up foreign investment regulations to hungry US companies….
There are however sceptics about the relationship in India, as well as those in the US who strongly believe India should be more docile and subservient. There will always be headlines about differences. Usually these will be on issues such as Iran and there is also concern in India about how determined the US is to support Asian countries against the sort of Chinese aggression seen in the East China Sea.
There will also be unexpected rows, as happened in December 2013 when US law officers suddenly arrested Devyani Khobragade, India’s 39-year-old deputy consul general in New York, just as she was dropping her daughter at school…..
The sharp reaction – and media frenzy – in India flushed out a latent anti-America feeling born of resentment of the way the US threw its weight around. As Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution in Washington was reported saying in the Financial Times, ‘we have created a myth that India is pro-America and that is not the case’..
Before this row broke out, the relationship had been drifting because of a lack of care in both countries with a weakly-led Indian embassy in the US and an American ambassador in Delhi who, though able, could not excite political support back home. There were few, if any, committed supporters in the Obama administration, and there were many officials and commentators in India who enjoyed taking a more aggressive stance.
The drift had increased as the Indian government and the country’s economy became weaker. The strategic dialogue was continuing but no top leader in either country was consistently pushing it ahead…….
Much has however been achieved, and a lasting ‘strategic partnership, not an alliance’ (as Menon [national security advisor Shivshankar Menon] put it) is in place after a decade of work. How it develops will depend largely on how America’s initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region play out, especially with China.
India’s role will depend on its reactions as those events unfold, and whether it has the will – and maybe one day the economic strength – to play a leading role in world affairs. Either way, the new relationship with the US has to be seen as a positive development, provided India maintains its independence as a friend and occasional partner but not an ally.
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