Foreign Policy Naifs (Barbara Crossette edition)

An unflattering assessment of India does not change the geopolitical rationale behind US-India relations

The United States and India have very little in common, argues Barbara Crossette on Foreign Policy magazine’s website, and a lot that could pull them apart. It’s a fallacious argument and fails international relations 101: because relations between states are determined by their interests, not popularity contests. So the ‘American love affair with India’, as Crossette calls it, is a side-show that decorates a mutual attraction based on an increasing congruence of national interests. That congruence—brought about by the geopolitics of the twenty first century-will determine the trajectory of India—US relations even if the ‘love fest’ itself were to come to an end.

But let’s look at Crossette’s arguments in some detail. First, she points out that the two countries are not natural allies. That’s right, they are not. “Natural allies”, like fairy godmothers, don’t exist. They just make the story interesting. Crossette contends that India saw the need to improve ties with the United States only after the Soviet Union collapsed. She does not mention that the United States saw the need to improve ties with India only after China’s rise became the dragon in America’s room. Hence the mutual interest in forging an alliance.

Shared interests do not necessarily mean identical positions on all issues. So it is entirely possible that India and the United States will differ over Iran and nuclear weapons. Partnership is about not allowing such differences come in the way of co-operation where interests do coincide: like on global terrorism, regional balance of power and trade. Crossette’s conclusion that the two countries are not natural allies, therefore, is beside the point.

It would even be excusable if the mistake arose from an incomplete understanding of international relations. But Crossette is a veteran journalist and Foreign Policy magazine is a reputable publication. So it looks like a deliberate attempt at misrepresentation (or at being provocative). Take, for instance, this sentence: “(the) father of its clandestine nuclear bomb, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, is now the country’s president”. Nuclear bombs, mercifully, are always clandestine. To call President Kalam the “father” of the Indian nuclear bomb is inaccurate. And so what if he’s the president?

Second, she rejects the notion that India is “a responsible world power”. To prove this, she plays fast and loose with facts. Indian meddling, she contends, created Bangladesh, leading to the death of ‘over a million people’ in the ‘bloody ethnic cleansing campaigns’ that followed. This is intellectual dishonesty. She deliberately fails to mention what America’s own diplomats said at that time. Indian meddling, in fact, put an end to the genocide and ethnic cleansing that the Nixon administration brazenly abetted.

Apart from dubious definition and intellectual dishonesty, what is “a responsible world power”? Most people around the world don’t think America fits that bill. They may fear and respect it, but few will agree China is responsible. It does not require sins of commission to be lose claims to responsibility. What do you call various European countries who failed to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by Pakistan, while tolerating the presence of various international terrorist organisations, under their very noses?

Third, she predicts that India will not surpass China in anything other than population. Let’s say it will turn out this way. Is her argument that United States should not pursue better relations with India because it has far more poor and uneducated people than China? If this is the case, then Canada (if the Canadians allow), with its high rank on the Human Development Index should help America retain its influence in Asia. Or Kazakhstan, perhaps? And why are those rich, educated South Koreans chafing at American power in their midst when all the Americans are doing is protecting them. Besides, to look at population figures alone, without considering the differences in the future demography of India and China to miss an very important point.

Fourth, she rejects the belief that India is becoming a high-tech, middle class nation. The middle class is a minority, the IT sector employs 1 million people and accounts for 4% of India’s GDP and only 3.2% of the population has internet access. Again, Crossette misrepresents: isolated data points don’t tell the story, trends do. And the trends, as Goldman Sachs points out in a recent report, suggest that the Indian economy might even overtake America’s by mid-century. But again, even if the future is less rosy, will America walk away from India simply because of the number of internet users?

Finally, she disputes India’s reputation for tolerance. She might have had a point if she was referring to the creeping tendency of the Indian government to yield to competitive intolerance. Instead she tries to assess India’s reputation by just looking at one side of the story. That’s about as sensible as America’s reputation for justice merely by looking at the crimes committed. No account of India’s social ills is complete without also assessing the attempts redress them. So if courts are slow, they are also effective. If there is caste-based discrimination, there is also constitution-mandated reservations. If there are caste-related crimes, there is also national outrage. If there is communal violence, there is also communal harmony.

And then there is Kashmir, whose people, according to Crossette, ‘consider themselves ethnically and historically separate from India’. Was that before or after Pakistan-sponsored jihadis began the ethnic cleansing? Let’s not forget there is an democratically elected government running the state. And then there are human rights violations including extra-judicial killings by Indian security forces. A painless, discriminating way to fight urban terrorists and insurgents awaits invention. In the meantime, there can be nothing but contempt for those who suggest a moral equivalence between terrorists and those who fight them.

Barbara Crossette, clearly, is no fan of India. In her eagerness to criticise America’s “love affair” with India, she does little justice to the case she wants to make. She neither provides arguments to show why the two countries have little in common, nor does she offer evidence of the ‘lot that could pull them apart’. If her intention is to prove that the India-US relationship will weaken or prove short-lived, she would have to prove why their interests—which are more than current foreign policy positions—will diverge. A diatribe against India’s real and perceived ills is not a substitute for that essential calculus.

Related Link: Foreign Policy Naifs – splashy headline, faulty analysis

Update: After being alerted to this post, FP’s editors have amended the reference to President Kalam. They would also do well to correct Crossette’s misrepresentation of the Bangladesh genocide. See Wikipedia’s article on Archer Blood, the 1971 liberation war and Sajit Gandhi’s compilation of declassified US documents. The facts are well-known: The Pakistani army carried out a genocide in its eastern wing after elections threw up a result the junta didn’t like. The killings led to a refugee crisis which was the precipitate reason for Indira Gandhi sending in the Indian army. For the record, the India-Pakistan war started on 3rd Dec 1971 after Gen Yahya Khan ordered the Pakistan Air Force to conduct a pre-emptive strike against India. Crossette could hardly be aware of the sequence of events.

36 thoughts on “Foreign Policy Naifs (Barbara Crossette edition)”

  1. India has nevertheless projected a positive image in the world, largely because the country is far more successful than the United States at public diplomacy. India’s outstanding diplomatic corps and government officials are more focused on winning all-or-nothing support for India in the international arena than they are on confronting India’s shortcomings.

    I find this mis-characterization of Indian diplomacy VERY, VERY offensive.

    And president Abdul Kalam is a rocket scientist not a nuclear scientist. He worked in ADE, ISRO and DRDO and not in India’s nuclear program. Looks like the leftards never have any use for hard facts unless it is on their side. They are also not in favour of the rule of law unless it lets them do whatever they feel like, they don’t like Free speech unless it is them and only them who get to do the talking.

    Looks like being a leftwing moonbat is more a cognitive mental disorder than just personal political opinion.

  2. the entire piece seems to break the myth of india shining, and not one reason why india and us shudnt be allies.

    and its found a place in foreign policy!! id have suspected tehelka or publications like that.

    the piece is total bullshit

  3. Apollo,

    A thought struck me soon after I finished this post: the Left-Liberals seem to have similar views on the India-US relationship. Indian Leftists rail against America’s real and perceived ills and condemn the relationship. Their American counterparts return compliment. Everyone else is okay with it (on both sides).

  4. It’s indeed a dilemma. To allow such BS to go unchallenged might, just might, someday prove Goebbel’s infamous conjecture.

    In any case, Foreign policy being a presidential prerogative, we’ve gotten it as good as we could have hoped for, post-1998 with Mr. Bush in the saddle. The man has fought estbd state dept orthodoxies to push through a paradigm change of sorts on India policy. Clinton indulged China throughout the 90s despite massive evidence of dragon designs even then. It wasn’t until 2000 he made an India visit, more as an afterthought perhaps, to a hero’s welcome. Bush on the other hand, faced protests the sort no foreign leader in post’47 India has managed to excite.

    I’m not terribly enthusiastic about the odds a Dem president would improve relations further with India. For that the GOP is our best bet.

    Anyways, my $0.02.

  5. Sudhir,

    Indeed. However, I contend that regardless of which party gets its candidate into the White House next, the geopolitical game has changed sufficiently for the new president to continue along the lines of George W Bush. The rise of China cannot mean anything else for the United States.

  6. Nitin, exactly. And there is more. The American leftists like their Indian counterparts are also self-loathing types.They hate their own country America as much as our leftists hate India. They both similarly whitewash the sins of radical islamists and Communist Chinese( e.g- I just saw an interview on CNN where some “expert” was blaming America for the Chinese blowing up a satellite this week) and blame their own countries’ “foreign policies” for all the problems.

    That is why the best way forward for better Indo-US relations is for the Indian and American right to work together. The self-loathing Leftards in both countries will ofcourse try their level best using every trick in the book and every prejudice and misunderstandings that is held on by people in either countries about one another to try to hijack this process so as to benefit their own favourite sides i.e., radical islamists and communist china. The battle lines are already getting drawn, America and India are on the same side in this war.That is why like u said the relations between the two countries are warming at such a frenzied pace and not because of some kind of nebulous “love fest”.

  7. I agree that the trajectory of Indo-US relations points towards greater cooperation, and that disputes like Iran and Pakistan will not derail this. After Vajpayee was shown the door by Indian voters, I was sure that Singh would pull back from the U.S. Thankfully, Singh saw the writing on the wall – namely, China surging ahead, and that whatever misgivings he might have about U.S. policy in South Asia, or Bush as a person, he was not going to put India in a weaker position.

    Even with regards to Pakistan, a number of Indian and Indian-American friends point out that Bush is constantly protecting Musharaff. And I say that while may appear to be the case, bear in mind that war between India and Pakistan is less likely at the end of the Bush presidency than it was at the start.

    However silly some of Crossette’s arguments are, they do serve a valuable purpose – they keep us on our toes, ensuring that we lobby hard to promote a realistic relationship between India and the U.S., rather than just expecting America to see the value in making India a global player.

  8. vatsan: the entire piece seems to break the myth of india shining, and not one reason why india and us shudnt be allies.

    I agree. It seems to be an account of all the (massive) problems still facing India than an argument for why India and the US shouldn’t be allies.

    And the tone in which Crossette writes is more suitable for pamphleteering than the kind of nuanced analysis, that I would assume, a publication like Foreign Policy requires.

    As for the innuendo that India will help Iran with its nuclear program, what rubbish! India, after all, cannot afford going about calling other nations “evil”, like President Bush seems to do. After all, there’s no reason to antagonize our neighbors more than we need to and not all nations have the luxury of having the Atlantic ocean on one side and the Pacific on the other. Maintaining (at least) cordial relations with Iran and Venezeula (and others, including Pakistan) is in our (national) interests — we need to have multiple sources of energy, after all. But, if our non-proliferation record is any indication, India knows, more than any other country, what the effects of a nuclear device anywhere in the Islamic world will be. I, for one, don’t see us helping Iran with anything that has to do with nuclear technology (although I may be wrong…).

  9. The Foreign Policy editor’s blog is praising her “great analytical piece” to the skies.

    Think that India and the United States are natural allies? That India’s democratic system will allow it to eventually surpass China? That India, despite its religious diversity, is a model for how we can all live together n peace and harmony?

    Think again.

    That’s what Barbara Crossette, who was the chief correspondent for South Asia for the New York Times from 1988-1991, wants you to do as you read a new web exclusive for ForeignPolicy.com that’s bound to be controversial. She’s backed up her argument with lots of data(what data?) showing that(showing what?), for now, India’s vaunted rise, and its celebrated tolerance, are more hype than reality when it comes to improving the lives of most Indians.

    And ofcourse the lefties on either side of the aisle have to co-operate and exchange notes to bring down their common enemy(America and India ofcourse).

    So who do the self-loathing American lefties call in for Artillery support?

    Why? The self-loathing Indian Lefties ofcourse.

    But you don’t have to take Crossette’s word for it—just take a gander at what India’s own pundits are saying. Here’s Ramesh Thakur, writing in The Hindu:

    The demoralisation and ill-discipline of the police forces is matched by the public’s distrust and fear of them. They are widely believed to be anti-poor, anti-women, anti-Muslim, and anti-outcastes. Torture is as routine as corruption is endemic.

    What bloody creeps!

  10. Hi Apollo,

    But you don’t have to take Crossette’s word for it—just take a gander at what India’s own pundits are saying. Here’s Ramesh Thakur, writing in The Hindu:

    The demoralisation and ill-discipline of the police forces is matched by the public’s distrust and fear of them. They are widely believed to be anti-poor, anti-women, anti-Muslim, and anti-outcastes. Torture is as routine as corruption is endemic.

    What’s wrong with saying that? What does it have to do with Indo-US relations? Or with India’s liberalization reforms? I happen to think that there is an element of truth to it…no? Does simply calling for police-force reform make Ramesh Thakur a bloody creep? Or were you indulging in satire?

  11. Nitin,

    You should pen a shorter version of this rebuttal and send it to the editor of Foreign Policy mag.

  12. Shreeharsh, It is not that Ramesh Thakur is calling for reform that’s the problem. He is doing so keeping his own leftwing agenda in mind rather than the interests of the country and its people. And i wonder why the FP editors chose this article out of the zillions out there calling out for police reforms and every other kind of reform to connect to Barbara crossette’s rant?

    Simple.Both are anti-Indian rants which go well out of their supposed subject line to project the country in the worst possible light by including all kinds of real and imagined issues and exaggerating and misrepresenting many facts. some of which are so glaring like calling Abdul Kalam, as the father of Indian nuclear bomb?! whereas he is a rocket scientist who never worked on the nuclear program. There are many more such “gems” and sleight of hand tricks in both articles. That is why i called them bloody creeps.

  13. For all the sound and fury stemming from the thin-skinned Indian jingos at this blog, Barbara Crossette is fundamentally correct in her assessment of the limitations of a India-US strategic rapproachment though not for the reasons she stated. While she does deflate somewhat the bag of hot air that is India shining, she woefully misses the critical difference that separates the two nations. That there is a significant matter of divergent expectations.

    India expects support from the U.S. to counter balance China. The U.S. also expects support from India to counter balance China. How are these seemingly similar aims so divergent you may wonder? It is because they are both expressions of expectations of what they can get out of a strategic relationship not necessarily what one is willing to offer. This is where the impasse begins. While the U.S. certainly has the capability and possible intent to assist India, India cannot reciprocate. The area of strategic friction between the U.S. and China lies in the Western Pacific and in this regard India has only marginal capability to assist the U.S. and a nonexistent political will. For those of you who think that the India government is “chankian” to the degree that it will do anything but bloviate impotently at the U.N. I would recommend to place your feet closer to the ground. It will be India that will expect U.S. assistance should there be a strategic escalation between her and China but if you are expecting reciprocity then you will be waiting a long time. Any present and mid-term strategic rapproachment between India and the U.S. will be a one-way street of U.S. give and Indian take. The viability of any alliance is ultimately a matter of and cost/benefit analysis. Despite the U.S. overwhelming strength, it has literally resorted to pulling teeth to find support even from long-time allies in its War on Terror because the U.S. and it’s allies neither share the same priorities and more importantly, willingness to take risks and the accept the costs of such action.

    In the meanwhile, it is likely that after the Iraq war manages to come to it’s conclusion whatever it may be, the U.S. is going to go through a phase of retrenchment to protect its perceived core interests. Expending U.S. resources and precious political capital to assist India while receiving nothing of utility is essentially the same situation with some of the U.S.’s present allies, a situation which America will attempt to avoid rather than embrace.

  14. Jewgar

    Barbara Crossette is fundamentally correct in her assessment of the limitations of a India-US strategic rapproachment though not for the reasons she stated. While she does deflate somewhat the bag of hot air that is India shining, she woefully misses the critical difference that separates the two nations.

    That’s not good enough. Conclusions that don’t stem from the analysis are mere assertions.

    That there is a significant matter of divergent expectations.

    India expects support from the U.S. to counter balance China. The U.S. also expects support from India to counter balance China. How are these seemingly similar aims so divergent you may wonder? It is because they are both expressions of expectations of what they can get out of a strategic relationship not necessarily what one is willing to offer. This is where the impasse begins.

    This is a reasonable argument (and it’s yours, not Crossettes’s, which is the subject of this post): that both sides currently want to take more away from the table than they want to give. I see that the rest of your argument is a substantiation of this point from a US perspective—that India either lacks the capability or the intent to support American positions in the Pacific.

    Likewise, there is an Indian perspective: that the US either lacks the capability or the intent to support Indian positions where it matters. Like, for example, on Pakistan or on the NPT. This also supports your point about inflated expectations. But let’s remember relationships (including marriage) follow a general pattern of inflated expectations, overcorrection after understanding the reality, etc until they become stable. In any case, have you seen any deal where a side wants to give more than it wants to take? The expected value of the deal incents parties to negotiate. They sign up only when they perceive the expected value to be positive (or at worst, neutral).

    So yes, there is likely to be some disappointment around the corner once the honeymoon is over. But the fundamental realities of 21st century geopolitics—the rise of China, the shifting balance of power in the middle East, radical Islam, terrorism, demography etc—are already creating powerful forces of attraction that will overwhelm differences.

  15. Niket, Atanu,

    Actually, I did that soon after I posted this. I don’t have any hope that they’ll publish it. And that was before seeing Apollo’s comment about how they are plugging Crossette.

  16. Jewgar, u have penned a better analysis of the pros and cons than barbara crosette and FP magazine can ever manage.

    This is where the impasse begins. While the U.S. certainly has the capability and possible intent to assist India, India cannot reciprocate. The area of strategic friction between the U.S. and China lies in the Western Pacific and in this regard India has only marginal capability to assist the U.S. and a nonexistent political will

    The US does not expect Indian help in the Pacific theatre.They are quite well placed there.They have Taiwan, Japan, Phillipines, South Korea, Australia, NZ and perhaps even Vietnam and Singapore.India does not have any territories in the pacific, and it is not needed there. period. Not even to provide some warm bodies or gunboats.

    So where are we looking to co-operate.It is to keep China out of the Indian Ocean rim.Here we are placed perfectly. We have the best navy in this region . China is trying to increase its presence in this Area by its string of pearls strategy from the cocos Is. to Gwadar. With the Gwadar port China is sitting uncomfortably close to the Persian Gulf from where the US, India, japan and much of the world get their Oil from.It is here that the US is looking for India to pick up some slack. And India in turn is looking for the US to let it access advanced technology, weaponry and training to build up its military and tech muscle.

    And ofcourse there is radical Islam.Here too our interests converge especially in Afghanistan where Indian and US interests coincide to keep the Taliban out.The only sticking point ofcourse is Pukeistan.Americans are still thinking that Musharraf howsoever disgusting is their best in that rathole.And is pressing India to appease him more.This has to stop else it could soon end up causing some unnecessary strains in the burgeoning relations. But then with the challenges of rising radical islam and communist china, India and the US have no other way but to get together in the near to mid-term future.

  17. “Barbara Crossette, clearly, is no fan of India.”

    Actually she would say she loves India – the old socialist India, that is. She is an old hack (also former NYT reporter in UN with some really damming articles on India) – classic Washington foreign policy establishment that can sneer and look down at Indians begging for aid, food or otherwise, and giggling with establishment Indians, in cock tail parties, looking down the third-world India’s misery in the 70s and 80s.

    Her India is classic Indologist India – it’s castes oppression, sati, religious backwardness, and illiterate India – that India of snake charmers.

    It’s a dying breed. And I guess this is one last spear at the newer confident India, on par with US and other powers, they have a hard time getting used to.

    @Jewgar, you need to know where she is coming from before calling us thin-skinned jingos. She doesn’t look at India the way you do either.

  18. “And ofcourse there is radical Islam……”

    I couldn’t agree more, Apollo.

    In the near term, Islam, of the radical sort, more than business and China even, is responsible for bringing America and Indian closer.

  19. Apollo>> “So where are we looking to co-operate.It is to keep China out of the Indian Ocean rim.”

    And keep India in check there too, with the help of our brotherly neighbors next door… Umreeki games in the region are always interesting 😀

  20. Nitin, the amended version is still inaccurate. It should read ‘He is one of the Key players in the developing of India’s rocket and missile capabilities’. Abdul Kalam is an Aeronautical engineer.He has NEVER worked on the nuclear program.

    Perhaps characterising him as a mere missile scientist might not look threatening enough to the Average joe reader.

    And i doubt that they will mention the famous Blood telegram.It doesn’t suit their rabblerousing agenda.

  21. Apollo,

    Kalam is not a nuclear scientist, but he did have a role to play in the broader nuclear weapons programme. As scientific advisor to the defence minister, for instance, he was a leading proponent of testing, ie, Pokhran-II. It does not, however, make him the father of the bomb.

    It also does not matter that he is the president now. Dr Radhakrishnan to Giani Zail Singh…we’ve had an eclectic mix.

  22. Nitin, that’s correct. but the FP article tries to project him as India’s AQ Khan, as if he had hands on involvement in the nuclear program.

    Both having “Abdul” in their name helps Barbara get away with this mischief.

    He did not have any say in the nuclear program till he became the scientific advisor. now that’s a very managerial/Company secretary type of role very different from that of say a Homi Jehangir Baba, Raja Ramanna or Chidambaram who should be rightly given the credit of being the “fathers” or “key players” in the Indian nuclear programme.

  23. “If there is caste-based discrimination, there is also constitution-mandated reservations.”

    Ah, but you repeat yourself. More to the point, you’re right, Crosette does indeed come across as a total airhead. But as far as India and U.S. sharing a common interest in global terrorism is concerned, I’m not quite sure. There are terrorist training camps in Pakistan. Open secret, everybody is aware of that. And yet, the anti-terrorist U.S. government continues pumping millions of dollars of military and economic aid into the country, and supplying them with F-16s. One would imagine they would behave rather differently, if they wanted to get rid of terrorists.

  24. Nitin & Apollo,

    I think whether A P J Kalam is associated with Nuclear program or not is besides the point. Our nuclear program is legitimate. Unlike the disgraced hero of “land of pure”, our president is not guilty of selling nuclear secrets or any other act which compromised his integrity.

  25. >> Our nuclear program is legitimate. Unlike the disgraced hero of “land of pure”, >>

    Disgraced by whom ? Honored by whom ? America ?

    In the world of realpolitik, this kind of stuff hardly matters. Do stolen fissile material explode less than that of home brew variety?

    What matters is- Can we conduct foreign policy in an environment of narrowing public interests ? I think not.

    We should not underestimate what national interest can accomplish when it comes to Pakistan. In India, we are narrowing our interests at a scary rate. Have you wondered what are the views of Ramadoss, Laloo, Paswan, Karunanidhi, YSR, Gogoi, Nilotpal Basu, Karat when it comes to core national issues ?

    Consider a hypothetical proposal. One that simply allows Pakistanis to have joint administrative control of the entire Kashmir valley. How many of our politicians do you think will have a strong view about this proposal ? Their interests are far narrower, restricted to a caste or religious perimeter.

  26. RC,

    Disgraced by whom ? Honored by whom ? America ?

    In the world of realpolitik, this kind of stuff hardly matters. Do stolen fissile material explode less than that of home brew variety?

    Excellent point.

  27. RC,

    The Chinese (and paks of course) and the usual powers would agree with you. In fact, that’s one reason to have strong espionage department in RAW with wings beyound our neighbourhood. But we want to sit on the moral high table and reinvent each one those wheels.

  28. @ Nitin

    I was really surprised at this piece in FP. Hadn’t had a chance to go through the entire piece until now. Such biased piece of crap in a “reputedly” good magazine is quite surprising. Just sent them a rather lengthy email detailing my objections.

    [……….India has a history of interference in the politics of its weaker South Asian neighbors. ………………. current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have these activities been curtailed]

    Barbara forgot to mention that Indians were hailed as liberators when they entered Bangladesh after the defeat of the Pakistani forces and according to a TIME magazine report, the people of Bangladesh were cheering “Jai Bangla Jai Bangla” and “Indira Gandhi Zindabad” (Long live Indira Gandhi). You also never mentioned how West Pakistan was effectively carrying out genocide against the Easterners, once again as reported by TIME; a non-partisan media outlet. There was an influx of 10 million refugees from Bangladesh to India and without intervention it would have led to a human catastrophe. How dare you even question the meddling while turning a completely blind eye to the unilateral hegemonistic interventions by US in various parts of the world? To cite a few examples, let your readers know about Nicaragua, Chile, Guatemala and Honduras. Enough has already been said about US arming the Taliban and Iran Contra affair.

    [………..India has nevertheless projected a positive image in the world, largely because the country is far more successful than the United States at public diplomacy. ………..India’s shortcomings.]

    I wonder how this compares to the absolute daydream of “democracy promotion” that is being sold without any inhibitions by the US for over half a century now.

    [……………India’s vaunted middle class is still a distinct minority. In reality, the gap between rich and poor remains enormous…………..]

    Distinct minority? Is that why Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour are so eager to enter India? Is that why India keeps adding more than 6 million mobile subscribers every month? Is that why trade delegations from practically every country and US states are queuing up for trade trips to India? Do you understand the difference between “developing” and “developed” nations and how the evolution occurs? The kind of progress that has been made since 1991 after the opening up of the economy has never been seen anywhere else. Compare the growth trajectory of India and China during the first 15 years of their liberalization and you will get your answer.

    With all respect, Barbara Crossette, have you ever been to India? If not, I suggest you do visit. I was talking to a political science professor at the University of Toronto and this is what he had to say.

    “It is a miracle, an absolute miracle that India with over 1 billion people, so many castes and sub castes and deeply rooted caste discrimination is functioning as a democracy. It is a miracle that with so many religions, so many languages, such radical differences from one state to the other and sometimes even within states, India has been able to hold itself together as a democracy and it is even more astonishing that it is in fact moving forward. He gave me an example of Canada, where there is a huge debate about Quebec and the rest of Canada when there are just two divisions. He could not imagine the state of Canada if each state had distinct identity. “

    Take a look at the larger picture before trying to over sensationalize every single dissenting voice.

  29. No offense, but India probably needs more pragmatic Indians than opinionated ones. One gets the distinct impression from reading the Indian blogosphere that economic euphoria has taken a left turn somewhere past Albuquerque into rank delusion. India’s economic progress in the past 3 years has been impressive, but it’s a bit presumptuous to declare victory 10 seconds out of the starting gate as many Indians are wont to do.

    Regarding India’s middle class, not to be a negative Nancy, but I hope you realize that the average daily disposable income of Indian urban residents (not rural) at present is about 80 cents. Those who can afford to shop at Walmart, Tesco, and Carrefour are indeed distinct minorities, probably no more than 5-10% of Indian’s urban population, and will be even under optimistic projections for decades to come.

    In response to the “never before seen anywhere else” economic progress, one can simply proceed to peruse the IMF’s statistical records for historical annual percentage GDP growth.

    Available here http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2006/02/data/weoselgr.aspx

    India’s growth from 1991-2006 averages out to 5.88%. China’s from 1980-1995 averages out to 10.88%. China is not alone, every east Asian economy from Taiwan to South Korea, Japan to Singapore to Hong Kong has witnessed faster growth than India in the specified time frame.

  30. Jewgar,

    The business of economic forecasting is fraught with risk. Let’s say that one guess is as good as another. But even if we assume, for the sake of argument, the negative Nancy’s are right, it still does not imply that there is no case of US-India partnership. Walmart and offshoring are all fine, but the dragon in the room is China.

    The geopolitical case for the India and America to co-operate remains valid. Your new points merely decorate Crossette’s. They have already been addressed in my post.

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