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India And The World


A Global Partnership between the U.S. and India

By Thomas Donnelly, Melissa Wisner
Posted: Wednesday, September 7, 2005

AEI Online
Publication Date: September 7, 2005

August-September 2005

While Americans have been wondering what to make of the daily news from Iraq and the Middle East and the loves-me-loves-me-not swings of U.S.-China policy, the summer’s biggest story has received relatively little attention. The mid-July summit between President George W. Bush and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh--during which the two leaders resolved to “transform the relationship between their countries and establish a global partnership”-- initially was covered as a photo-op and remains, in the media’s imagination, a story about nuclear proliferation. But when a sole superpower takes a strategic mate, such a blooming global partnership should be front-page news.

As National Security Outlook argued in its premier issue, successfully wooing India is key to preserving the liberal, American-led international order. For all the wonders of our hyperpuissance, solving the many security problems of the twenty-first century is a burden better shared with others. Transforming the greater Middle East is as yet beyond the imagination or the interests of most Europeans. The specter of a rising China indicates that Beijing is part of the problem as well as, perhaps, part of the solution. And promoting democracy is a strategy that unnerves realpolitikers everywhere.

Outside Tony Blair’s Britain, only India stands as a natural great-power partner in building the next American century. Despite the anomalies of the caste system, India is a deeply democratic country. Moreover, for decades, hundreds of millions of Muslims have preferred to remain in India rather than cross the border into Pakistan or Bangladesh. In addition, India has been fighting Islamist terrorism for a long time; doing so is fundamental to its “homeland security.” Regarding China, India cannot be agnostic about the direction of its rise: India has fought wars with the People’s Republic; worries about China’s growing regional and global influence, as well as its contribution to Pakistan’s nuclear and missile projects; and is itself a rapidly developing economy that will compete with China for energy and foreign investment. Indians also importantly still understand the role of military force in international politics and diplomacy; yes, India wants to join the UN Security Council, but as a measure of its emerging great-power status, not because it views the council as an end in itself.

The Bush administration’s unprecedented engagement with India reflects its desire to shape the rise of a potentially powerful ally. Indeed, the administration has been working on this front for some time: former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee described the United States and India as “natural allies”during his visit to the White House on November 9, 2002, and a process of negotiating “next steps in strategic partnership” has been underway since January 2004.

The stakes are high. A recent analysis by the Central Intelligence Agency calls India the most important “swing state” in the international system--a country which has the ability to tilt the balance between war and peace. Though Washington and New Delhi share many interests in the post–9/11 and Cold War world, both sides still have a long way to go in demonstrating that the other’s desires are in synch with their own. Translating into practice the grand vision of a “global partnership” is the work of many years and will demand the destruction of many policies of the past--we are not beginning with a blank sheet after all. Reviewing some basic geopolitical questions will aid in suggesting a path forward.

What Does India Want?

India has dreams of greatness. In late April, former Singaporean president Lee Kwan Yew--who remains honored for perspicacity, despite the occasional inaccurate prediction--declaimed that India was on the verge of “entering the front ranks” of nations and that not only China’s rise but India’s rise “would shake the world.” Lee’s appraisal was greeted with special reverence in India, in part because in office he had expressed his sadness at “the general rundown of the country”--a widely reported remark that hit Indians hard. To be given the elder statesman’s stamp of approval in this context was, for many in India, proof of their rising status.

In sum, India sees itself as a rising great power deserving of the international community’s respect and due regard. To Indian eyes, there are two important measures of such status. First, New Delhi wants a seat on the UN Security Council. External Affairs minister K. Natwar Singh expressed optimism that India would be awarded its entitled position at the United Nations, claiming that “it will be a great pity if the UN structure put together in 1945 is not reformed in 2005. . . . uman kind will not forgive us.” This was an important item at the Bush-Singh summit; said the Indian prime minister: “India has a compelling case for permanent membership on the Security Council. We are convinced that India can significantly contribute to U.N. decision-making and capabilities.”

India’s obsession with the UN and the Security Council is rooted in the leading role the country played in the “nonaligned movement” of the Cold War as well as its colonial past; India’s recent global strategy was to position itself between the United States and the West, the Soviets, and what was then called the “Third World.” While India can certainly count on finding frustration in Turtle Bay as the country grows in stature and importance, New Delhi has yet to experience the full failures of twenty-first-century multilateralism, or view the United Nations apparatus with the skepticism of Americans. In some sense Indians understand their potential as a great power and rightly believe they should be taken more seriously in international politics, but they have yet to grasp the realities of what they wish for. A seat on the Security Council would surely symbolize India’s growing global influence, yet such a position would grant India figurative prestige rather than true bargaining power. On the other hand, gaining membership in other multilateral organizations such as the G8, APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), or the International Energy Agency would confirm India’s seat at the global decision-making table.
Along with a chair at the UN Security Council, India wants to be regarded as a legitimate nuclear power. This has been a sticking point in U.S.-India relations since India’s May 1998 nuclear tests. New Delhi regards the Nuclear Nonproliferation Pact as limiting its need to create a genuine credible deterrent arsenal vis-à-vis Pakistan. India wants a mobile, ready nuclear force: as the centrist Times of India explained,

"India must fix its overall nuclear strategy within the consensus of minimum credible deterrence. Strategists are debating if the deterrents should number in the low hundreds or a medium three-figure number, roughly on a par with British and French arsenals. No one in India wants huge arsenals of the size that the U.S., China and Russia have built".

Despite these two desires, it remains unclear how India conceives of its role as a global great power. Beyond the question of Security Council membership--which is more about pride than real power--and a robust nuclear arsenal--which is really about Pakistan--what kind of player will India become on the world stage? Is it a “status quo” power or does it seek change? Is India ready to stand closer to the United States, or will New Delhi “triangulate” between Washington and Beijing, as its Cold War strategy might suggest?

What may tip the balance is the ideological commitment to democracy. One of the prime features of the Bush-Singh summit was an assertion of “common values and interests.” The two leaders agreed “to create an international environment conducive to promotion of democratic values” and announced a “U.S.-India Global Democracy Initiative.” After the invasions and in the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, we have a pretty good idea that democracy promotion is a centerpiece of the “Bush Doctrine.” Just where it fits in the “Singh Doctrine,” or if indeed there is such a doctrine, is the question.

To be frank, the values rhetoric does not seem to mean much to many Indians, if newspaper and magazine editorialists are any measure; most analyses of the summit stressed that any growing cooperation would be founded on hard-core calculations of national interest. Those writers who did address the new devotion to democratization could be skeptics, as Kuldip Nayar was in the centrist India Express:

"People want to know what the two countries, which loudly proclaim that they are the two biggest democracies, propose to do to bolster faith in liberal thoughts and free society, shrinking the world over. That America and India have renewed their determination to fight against terrorism strengthens the global resolve that the fundamentalists, jihadis or others, will not be allowed to hold entire societies to ransom. . . . [Yet] when democratic America imposed an unnecessary war on Iraq, Washington laid down new rules of morality which do not fit the values free societies cherish".

There is, in some ways, a remarkable echo in India of American attitudes in our early years. India’s devotion to universal democratic values is real, but its ability to project power is purely local; like the United States of the Monroe Doctrine era, India’s most pressing task is to secure its immediate region, in the subcontinent. Pakistan has been, and will remain, India’s top strategic priority.

The situation along India’s continental and oceanic borders--a total of almost 15,000 land kilometers and more than 7,500 at sea--is not much better than in the subcontinent. New Delhi has always looked to maintain influence over its “near abroad,” in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and Burma, but its ability to sustain this traditional position can no longer be taken for granted as China solidifies its ties to Burma--where China now maintains a maritime surveillance post--and Nepal. When King Gyanendra seized power in Katmandu last year, Beijing maintained its arms sales to Nepal while India cut off supplies, giving China increased influence. In sum, India’s position in South Asia is as uncertain and as reflective of a zero-sum strategic calculus as ever.

Ranging a bit farther abroad, the view from New Delhi improves somewhat. For the past decade, following a “Look East” strategy, India has been reaching out to its Southeast Asian neighbors, although its economic influence does not match that of China. India has successfully gained membership in ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) and is a full dialogue partner with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Yet India’s Southeast Asian strategy has not been entirely successful, for India still has many regional relationships to strengthen and solidify. India must continue to fortify its political and economic ties to its regional neighbors, particularly if India hopes to gain membership to APEC--a hurdle New Delhi has twice failed to clear.

Indian strategists clearly realize that the “struggle for mastery of Southeast Asia” has begun, and New Delhi is jockeying for advantage. India secured a seat at the inaugural East Asia Summit--a new Pan-Asian forum from which China managed to exclude the United States. Like Japan, India will not allow Beijing to establish the equivalent of a modern tributary system in South East Asia, nor will it acquiesce to the South China Sea becoming a Chinese-owned lake. New Delhi is sure to find ways to become more active in the region, looking toward Japan, Singapore, and the United States to help in that regard. Washington would be wise to forge its own Pan-Asian Pacific groupings, with India, Japan, and Australia at the core. All indications are that New Delhi would welcome a proactive American approach so that it is not left having to openly counter Beijing’s machinations.

Nonetheless, Pakistan and China are arguably the most important Asian players to India. Although China and India have made great strides in resolving territorial disputes--particularly regarding China’s recognition of India’s claim to Sikkim--India and China will compete for energy, foreign direct investment, regional influence, and potentially arms. Although both nations share some fear of unmitigated American hegemony, the competition between these two nations may overpower their common interests and lead to tension and conflict.

Islamabad will, however, always cause concern for New Delhi despite the fact that the past year’s negotiations have eased tensions between the two powers. Although Pakistan will continue to be a sensitive issue for India--with Kashmir at the center of the conflict--India will also try to separate itself from this long-standing dispute so as to become a world power in its own right. India will predictably reject what is referred to as the “hyphenated view” of India and Pakistan in order to take a seat at the global decision-making table free from the shadow of Indian-Pakistani tensions.

Militarily speaking, India is interested in engaging in military-to-military contacts with the United States. In particular, New Delhi needs access to U.S. technology and markets so as to prepare its military in the face of shifting threats and challenges. According to then–undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith, speaking to the U.S.-India Defense Seminar in 2002, “defense sales are a part of our overall national security policy, not simply a matter of business and commerce.” Accordingly, the United States has permitted Lockheed Martin and Boeing to offer sales of F-16s and F-18s, respectively, to India’s multi-role air force program. Yet, we must recognize that India is not interested in establishing a military relationship similar to that which existed between the United States and Europe during the Cold War period. In fact, because India insists upon a degree of freedom of action, this partnership will inevitably be limited in nature. On the other hand, this defense pact will enhance military cooperation, permit weapons transfers, and authorize joint work on missile defense.

Clearly India has some very specific objectives that significantly overlap with the regional and international goals of the United States. Perhaps most importantly, however, both India and the United States are liberal democracies. Both nations are, therefore, threatened by anti-democratic movements, particularly Islamic radicalism, and must actively fight terrorism. We must remember, however, that in doing so, India may often “march to the beat of its own drummer” and, like the Europeans, may be an ally whose actions and motivations will inevitably be questioned.

What India Offers the United States

If India, like early America, is essentially still an inward-looking democracy with regional strategic priorities, the United States today is the inverse: a confident--even, in the eyes of the rest of the world, arrogant--democracy striving to manage a global order that is fundamentally strong but coming under increasing strain. The Bush administration’s desire to help India become a great power is genuine, but it is hardly selfless; it reflects the hope that India can stand with Great Britain and Japan as America’s closest great-power partners in the front ranks of the free world.

That is a breathtakingly ambitious goal and, as the section above should indicate, one that will require generations of effort and effective diplomacy to achieve. It is also a reflection of an amazing reversal in American strategy: where the United States saw India as a frustrating irritant, it now sees warming relations as a strategic opportunity to be cultivated and explored. A shift in America’s attitude could be detected from the very beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency, at which time he declared that, “After years of estrangement, India and the United States together surrendered to reality. They recognized an unavoidable fact--they are destined to have a quantitatively different and better relationship.” Indeed, the winds of change began to blow in the late Clinton years.

The change became most obvious in March 2005 when the Bush administration announced that the United States welcomes and will aid India’s growth as a global great power. As former ambassador to India Robert D. Blackwill put it, the United States is “seeking to intensify collaboration with India on a whole range of issues that currently confront the international community writ large.” At the July summit, President Bush affirmed that “common security objectives” would make India a “diplomatic” and “strategic” partner, spelling out America’s new strategic reality: it will need to look beyond its historical allies, such as Britain, Europe, and Japan, to face the challenges posed by the modern world.

In simple terms, this means that Washington will be looking increasingly to coordinate a comprehensive strategic approach with New Delhi. The commonality of interests in regard to the Islamic world will be the foundation of this broader alliance, even as differences over Pakistan and Iran continue. New Delhi understands the threat posed by radicalism as well as Washington does: India has lost more of its population to jihadi terrorism than any other nation has over the last fifteen years. The rhetoric of the summit revealed a strong agreement. President Bush articulated that “America and India understand the danger of global terrorism, which has brought grief to our nations, and united us in our desire to bring peace and security to the world. . . . e believe that by spreading the blessings of democracy and freedom, we will ensure a lasting peace for our own citizens and for the world.” Prime Minister Singh echoed the president when proclaiming, “We must oppose the evil of terrorism together. To meet such vital challenges, we must be together on the same page. We must speak the same language and display the same resolve.”

Yet developing a synchronized strategy for Pakistan will not be so easy. Although tensions between India and Pakistan have eased since India’s 1998 nuclear testing--particularly with the establishment of a Kashmir bus line in February 2005 between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad--Islamic radicals from Pakistan will always be one of the first and foremost national security issues for India. The Bush administration’s recent recognition of Pakistan as a “major non-NATO ally” and the decision to renew F-16 sales underscores the U.S. commitment to reengagement with Islamabad; for America, South Asia policy cannot be an either-or choice. The challenge for the United States and India is to begin to build complementary strategies toward the Musharraf regime and to embrace it while slowly pushing for liberalization. The lesson of the past two decades is clear: disengagement from the government in Islamabad is very, very dangerous.

Coordinating strategy for the rest of the region will be but slightly less difficult. The dashed hopes that India would contribute to the post-invasion force in Iraq are not the end of that story: Prime Minister Singh has suggested that India will be ready to contribute to the electoral processes in Afghanistan and Iraq in the future. More challenging will be creating a complementary approach to Iran. India’s traditional ties with Tehran will not be undone overnight, although New Delhi appears to be searching for a solution to the question of plans for a natural gas pipeline from Iran into Baluchistan that would satisfy U.S. interests. As with Pakistan, the two nations need to develop a joint long-range strategy that contains Iranian adventurism and sponsorship of terrorism, strings out Iranian nuclear development while hedging against the near certainty that this nightmare will become reality, and eases the way for political transformation in Tehran. By concentrating on change elsewhere in the Islamic world, the United States and India can help to weaken the Iranian regime while containing it strategically.

The most difficult task will be to come to an agreement over how to deal with China. Both the United States and India understand China’s economic importance and growing global influence, yet both fear rising Chinese military power--indeed, with Beijing’s increased influence in South Asia, many Indian strategists feel this even more keenly than their American counterparts. Yet the same misguided “engagement vs. containment” arguments bedevil all nations’ China policies, and only become multiplied in an alliance arrangement. The attempt to harmonize policy over the questions regarding the future of the greater Middle East and the rise of China--and the inevitable intersection of these two issues--will be one of the greatest challenges for India and the United States during the twenty-first century.

The budding relationship with India also ought to put to rest the charge that the Bush administration is essentially unilateralist. Indeed, the administration is simply extending the logic that became obvious in the Clinton years: American interests in Europe are no longer very much at risk, while our interests elsewhere are. The auxiliary--that our European allies, always with the exception of Great Britain, are not very much interested or able to project power outside their own continent--simply reinforces the larger strategic thinking. In the greater Middle East, the United States has created a new dynamic, but the region’s troubles are so numerous and so deeply rooted that exploiting the initiative won since the invasion of Afghanistan demands that others take up the cause in a serious way. Likewise, geopolitically engaging with China along its vast oceanic and continental periphery demands a multinational effort. Japan remains a reliable partner and will become an increasingly capable one, but a bilateral partnership with Japan is hardly sufficient to secure the complete Northeast Asia–to–South Asia maritime periphery, let alone balance Chinese influence in Central Asia. We need India to become a linchpin of the liberal, international order.

In addition to strategic cooperation, the United States should expand its military relationship with India, exploring not only the professional military-to-military relationship but also arms sales and joint development. Washington should not only sell the F-16s and F-18s it has agreed to, but should work toward larger-scale defense industrial cooperation, making New Delhi a partner on the Joint Strike Fighter or, better yet, the F-22 program. But more important than platforms are the electronic subsystems that give the greatest qualitative advantage in modern combat and form the core of command and control networks. As former senior policy analyst at RAND Ashley Tellis observes, “What India needs most often are not ‘big ticket’ weapons that galvanize public attention but high-quality assemblies and components that make a difference to the durability and effectiveness of existing inventory.” Given that computer software codes provide such an important element in these networks, Indian firms are well poised to partner with U.S. counterparts.

Closer operational collaboration is as important as defense-industrial cooperation. U.S. and Indian forces have been creeping toward greater combined and coordinated military operations in recent years, beginning with naval patrols in the Strait of Malacca in the immediate aftermath of September 11 and nearly culminating in Indian participation in the war in Iraq. The Indian air force last year famously “defeated” the U.S. Air Force in exercises--an event most noted by advocates of the F-22 program but indicative of India’s increasing sophistication. These first steps need to be rapidly expanded upon in all dimensions of combat: air, land, sea, and even space. Tellis has suggested a memorandum of understanding regarding operations in the Indian Ocean, but the geographic scope--and, indeed, the operational and combined scope--of such operations should be larger.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the obvious common strategic interests, forging a working alliance--in name or simply de facto--between the United States and India will not be easy. Indeed, the alliance may be stillborn if the nuclear agreement that was the centerpiece of the July summit is blocked in Congress or if the Bush administration caves in to the interests of its own arms control specialists. Moreover, much larger potential pitfalls loom ahead: Pakistan, Iran, China, the UN, and, ultimately, the obstacles inherent in preserving the liberal international order. A genuine partnership requires sacrifices and trade-offs on each side.

The consequences of U.S. failure to craft a comprehensive post–Cold War global strategy--and in particular the frittering away of the first decade of Pax Americana during the Clinton administration--are now being felt. The Bush administration’s impulses to rethink the U.S. approach to the Islamic world and to encourage Indian power are fundamentally sound, but impulses alone do not a strategy make. Impulses cannot be mistaken for a plan of action, a set of priorities, or a reliable guide for how to deal with China.

Ideally, the administration will leverage its opening to India into a genuine and full articulation of a detailed Bush Doctrine. It is important to help India become a truly global power, show it how it can play a leading role in the world, and cure its South Asian myopia. But it is even more important--especially now, when American spirits seem to be flagging in Iraq and elsewhere--to attract others to what are not simply American purposes, but the rightful purposes of the world’s free peoples.

Thomas Donnelly is a resident fellow at AEI. Melissa Wisner is a research assistant at AEI.

NOTE: Footnotes omitted.


For another lucid presentation, this time addressed to Indians, by Ashley Tellis and published in INDIA ABROAD INTERNATIONAL, please visit: http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publicati...j=znpp,zsa,zusr

For a quick summary record of what happened at yesterday’s House International Relations Committee’s Hearing on "The U.S. and India: An Emerging Entente?," click: http://www.voanews.com/english/2005-09-08-voa56.cfm
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U.S., Russia demonstrate prowess to step up defence ties with India

Special Correspondent

Russians seek to cement past ties; Americans focus on futuristic missile systems

# India should hold strategic discussions: Kohler
# Classified presentation on Patriot system
# Russian focus on Navy

NEW DELHI: Russia and the United States on Friday demonstrated their military capabilities to senior Defence Ministry officials here in an attempt to enlarge defence cooperation with India at a time when it is on a modernisation drive. While the Russians sought to cement their past relationship with the Indian defence establishment, offering after-sales support under one roof, the Americans gave presentations on futuristic missile defence systems and clarified misgivings about F-16 and F-18 fighter jets.

On his third visit to the country in less than a year, U.S. Defence Security Agency (DSA) director Jeffrey Kohler said India should conduct an internal strategic discussion on missile defence before deciding what suited its needs. Gen. Kohler's team made a classified presentation on the Patriot missile defence system and discussed the various elements of the U.S. concept.

"Only to close friends"

Asked about Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee's statement that India did not need imported missile defence systems, Gen. Kohler said the U.S.' intention was not to sell but to get Indian decision-makers acquainted with the concept in general as part of the understanding reached in the Next Steps on Strategic Partnership (NSSP) agreement the two countries signed. The official said the U.S. had made classified presentations of this nature only to treaty allies and a few close friends.

The Indian Air Force was given a classified presentation on the capabilities of F-16 and F-18. India plans to buy 126 multirole fighter planes and two American companies are among those in the race for one of the world's biggest orders of this kind.

The visiting team discussed with naval officials acquisition of maritime spy planes. The DSA plans to constitute a group to further interact with the Navy on its plans to develop long-range capabilities. The American delegation also interacted with Defence Ministry officials on defence programmes.

In comparison, the Russian interactions were low-key but more purposeful. The main focus area was the Navy, nearly 70 per cent of whose assets are of Russian or Soviet origin. The team acquainted the officials with a new company, Rosoboronservice, formed by seven Russian defence manufacturers and a military trading giant, Rosoboronexport.

The company is looking at a Rs. 1,000-crore annual opportunity in repairs to components, spare parts and auxiliary equipment aboard Indian naval ships.

Ask the Indian government minister
Commuters alight from trains in Mumbai
Which issues concern you most about India's future?

India has the world's second largest population and one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

But these are testing times for the country. Despite increased wealth and a burgeoning urban middle class, the vast majority of India's rural population remains illiterate and impoverished.

In the aftermath of last week's earthquake, India has offered assistance to Pakistan, which some hope could lead to closer relationships between the two countries.

You can put all your questions directly to Ambika Soni, Chair of the All India Congress Committee.

What do you think of the government's response to the earthquake in South Asia? Is India's economic success sustainable? Will relations with Pakistan improve? Which issues concern you most about India's future?

We'll be discussing India's future in a special edition of Talking Point, live from Delhi on Sunday, 16 October. Our special guest will be Ambika Soni, Chair of the All India Congress Committee. If you'd like to take part, send a phone number with you comments and questions. Your number will not be published.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

India and Pakistan will continue to posture against one another for their own domestic political reasons, including distracting from endemic poverty and class-based cultures second to none. Atomic bombs and missiles would suggest less than rational governments which appear to have learned nothing from watching the Cold War play out. They should focus on improving the lot of their respective populations by building schools, hospitals, and expanding opportunities for all. The money they currently spend on bombs and missiles should be spend on productive schemes.
Michael, California, USA

I am not sure I'd wish the title "world superpower" on any nation. With that title comes responsibility within one's country and without for the greater good of all peoples.
Penny, USA

Hopefully India will lead the world towards a more humane and tolerant future
Nilesh, Antwerp, Belgium
With the sheer size of the population and the growth it is generating at all levels, there is no doubt that India will eventually be a power to contend with. Its population is also going to remain younger compared to China - where due to one child policy, the aged will dominate the populace after 20 years. So, the burgeoning economy will have a forward momentum in future as well, and certainly would make India a key player on the global stage. While China has used its power to bully and generally disregard world opinion on many humanitarian issues, hopefully India will lead the world towards a more humane and tolerant future.
Nilesh, Antwerp, Belgium

I don't believe that India will become a superpower, however China and the EU are different stories. Both will become superpowers.
Rui M Silva, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

One constant assumption here of comments from most of the people who are not from India is that Indian economic growth is due to "wage difference / outsourcing " - maybe it'll help if they are told that it counts for about $10 billion in the Indian economy of $700 billion
Sundar, USA

India has a lot of room to grow, and will. India's problem however is that it is simply too overpopulated and too many people are dedicated to food production. Agriculture doesn't earn much revenue and prevents people from getting a higher education. Also, India suffers from emigration of the middle class. Anyone who is educated, has the potential to earn money, and contribute tax revenue leaves because they can earn more elsewhere. Indian wages need to increase before they start holding onto their skilled workers and can start importing grain from poorer countries.
Drew, Philadelphia, USA

As an Indian living in India, I feel all this talk about India being a superpower is part hype and part reality. We have a long, long way to go, just to become a power. The problem of corruption, poverty and pathetic infrastructure persists. All successive governments have failed to tackle these issues. Having lived in India all my life I do find a change in the people's mindset, being more positive and confident about the future
Dinesh Nair, Mumbai, India

Increase the prosperity across all segments of population
Vaman, Frederick, MD
As an Indian born American Citizen, I am quite impressed at so many positive feelings about India. The issue is not to become a superpower, but is to increase the prosperity across all segments of population. This is where India needs to concentrate and not worry too much about a super power status.
Vaman, Frederick, MD

Since when was a superpower constructed from call centres? As the standard of living, and hence the wages of Indian people rise, the jobs will move on to other cheaper countries.
Chris, Telford, UK

Most definitely, it is a democratic nation with over 900 million people, there's nothing stopping it. When the economy gets to a size rather like Germany or Britain, and its people start to earn more money, the Indian Treasury will rake in the money which will of course make the country a huge player and may very well overtake the USA. The Europeans MUST get their act together.
Joshua, Farnham, Surrey

India will become a superpower. They have the economy, the labour and resources to be one of the truly great nations of the world. But they should thank the British people for their potential. England gave them democracy, justice and a will to succeed, just as they did for so many countries around the world. My own included.
Bruce, Blackwell, Ok, USA

India needs to take strong and clear cut decisions to emerge as a global player
Nivedita Nadkarni, Madison, USA
It takes more than potential to emerge as a superpower and that is the proper tapping of the potential. One question for Ambika Soni: How can India make any progress, when all of our international policy seems to be centred around pleasing the US? This is with reference to the anti-Iran vote. The Americans got the Indians to do what they want, but will the Americans even "try" to consider India's concerns? India needs to take strong and clear cut decisions to emerge as a global player, not behave like an American subsidiary, which seems to be the Congress policy at the moment.
Nivedita Nadkarni, Madison, USA

The thought behind this question is very western. India should not chase the so called "super-Power" status. We have seen in recent past being superpower does not guarantee happiness/fulfilment of the populace. India by the western definition is a developing country, still it has one of the best education through put in the world. Most people have easy access to affordable healthcare (Remember 50% of Indian population is twice the size of USA in numbers). India has been lowering poverty rate since independence, where our resources of about 15 trillion were taken away. I think as the new generations emerge in India and Pakistan, issues will become irrelevant

India's current success is not just because of outsourcing. I agree that outsourcing has been the catalyst for this growth. India excels in other fields also such as pharmacy, agriculture, industrial and scientific research. India should proceed and improve its defence research. Defence field is not only just for developing missiles and fighter planes, it also provides technology for other fields such as medicine, electronics, agriculture, eg, USA and Israel. As far as the caste system, it will slowly fade away with more and more inter-caste marriages as they are happening right now. If the arrogance is synonym for superpower then I don't India to be superpower. There is a lot of work to be done to reduce economic imbalances. And finally, to our neighbours, you don't respect India because you don't want to.
Sreedhar Nandam, India

India is a country gaining economic ground in the world
Justin, Bristol, UK
You only have to look at the number of British jobs that are sent to India to see that India is a country gaining economic ground in the world. Poverty means nothing. Russia has many impoverished people and Russia was a superpower. One in six people in the world live in India. India is already a nuclear power. India is an emerging superpower and it would be naive to think otherwise.
Justin, Bristol, UK

India needs to clean up its home first. It has potential to become superpower. It will become only if it tries to give up the caste system that is becoming a block. In the process of India becoming superpower, the rich will get richer and poor will become poorer. It will also crumble under pressure of its own population after some time and it will have severe problem of old people after the next generation.
Ajit Nadgouda, Mumbai, India

India has to make a complete break from its socialist and its purported non-aligned past to become a superpower. Investment in Space technology, nanotechnology and the military is just as important as spending on the poor.
V Narayan, Sweden

India as a whole could not cope with such an economic responsibility. They need to sort out the corruption first then form a hierarchy that is strong enough to compete with the other superpowers such as the USA, and Europe. What remains to be seen is how economically India will benefit from assisting Pakistan.
Preeti R Gour, Czech Republic

Considering the ever-widening disparity of current socio-economic levels in the country, India achieving a superpower status is a pipe dream and more importantly of the least concern. Let not this waver our focus on more pressing matters.
Kashyap Mothali, Hyderabad, India

India already is a key player on the world stage. That said their economic power and productivity are limited by overpopulation and stressed physical resources. For that reason, for the foreseeable future only a small/limited percentage of India's population will be able to enjoy a decent standard of living. The current Indian service boom based on cheap labour is not sustainable without a cash cow - just look at the dot com bust to see what happens when the cash cow runs out.
Matt, Bellevue, WA, USA

Indian growth is slow and steady and will continue due to its huge and still emerging market (hopefully it will not be export-import based). As an NRI visiting India every year; the implications of a 6/7% growth were more apparent. I actually saw the 'before' and 'after' for 6 years till returned. Indian economic growth is perhaps the most sustainable, for the current growth is with all its problems, we can only imagine what would happen as the problems are resolved. India's economy is evolving which is irreversible, growth can be lost.
Ketan Khare, Mumbai, India

Indians now have to develop a sense of national pride
Leila, USA
I spent this last summer in India and have been visiting the country, specifically Bangalore (major city for outsourcing) since I was a child. It is clear the increase in money that has come to India, and although it may take time the trickle down effect seems to be working. The cities are looking better, the people are richer. However, Indians now have to develop a sense of national pride and come together to bring their fellow citizens up, they need to break the caste system and instead of suppressing their neighbours they need to help them. Until then India can never be a true super power.
Leila, USA

India's growth is reliant on the continued outsourcing of jobs from the west, simply to save money. As Indians progressively get richer, prices rise, giving way to inflation, and as such wage demands will also increase. The key factor will be how long the firms will hold this out before exporting these jobs again.
Darryl LeCount, Paderborn, Germany

The growth of India like China is directly tied to the United States policy of allowing the free transfer of technology and outsourcing of service and manufacturing. It is in America's and the world's interest to see China and India as free, prosperous, and stable nations but they should beware of becoming smug and confrontational. A rupture of say China with the US resulting in a cut-off of all economic relations would quickly send it reeling back into economic oblivion.
Mark, USA

India that will become a reservoir of knowledge and innovation in the near future
C Sachidananda Narayanan, Tirunelveli, India
Indians rule the roost in the fields of science and technology - particularly in the subject field of Information Technology, space science and microbiology. A new trend in Geological Informatics is catching up now among young people in India. It is for sure that India that will become a reservoir of knowledge and innovation in the near future.
C Sachidananda Narayanan, Tirunelveli, India

Why would any country want to be a superpower? That's not the same thing as a prosperous, innovative and successful country. If India or China or Europe want to be superpowers, they can have it. It's a curse.
Shawn, Washington, DC, USA

India will eventually become a major power simply because they have begun to place a far greater emphasis on education. As they develop, their infrastructure will be the latest but in country where prices will still be low and very competitive. The route to being a successful superpower is not by armed might but by education and a broad knowledge of the views of the rest of the World.
Keith, Rayeligh England

What many people forget is that for much of world history, India and China were the economic/civilizational superpowers of the world. First European colonisation and greed, and then decades of government. mismanagement and corruption have hampered growth. India still has a long way to go, but she has all the potential, including redefining what a superpower is. And the number of people who live in abject poverty in India has fallen to around 350 million. While the naysayers shake their heads, India will plod on in her own way.
K. Srinivasan, Boston, MA

Europe got united after World War II. India and Pakistan should get united after this earthquake disaster. If they are united, all the money spent on defence can be spent for good causes. When this happens, "United India" will be a superpower.
Siva Kumar Narayanasamy, London, UK/Madurai, India

India already is a superpower, both in economic terms and in geo-political terms. That it has lots of poor people is irrelevant.
Mark, London, UK

Any country, outside of the Euro-zone, has the potential of becoming a superpower.
Michael, USA

Once India takes care of its poor and educates the illiterate then it could emerge as a superpower
David Totten, Denny, Scotland

If it does it will be at a cost. Expect pollution, corruption and exploitation of the poor in the race for riches. India won't be any different, than say the UK in the 19th Century.
Martyn Howie, Aberdeen

India has a greedy upper class and the poor will remain poor and the rich will remain rich. Unless and until they don't get rid of bureaucracy they can never become a super power. Its ties with Pakistan will also be short lived, someone just has to mention Kashmir again.
Samien, England

India will never be a superpower, much less a global power
Jonathan, Boston, USA
Not with 800 million people living in abject poverty it won't. It could build a thousand nuclear weapons and pass China up in terms of production of goods. Until the vast majority of its people could be considered "middle class", India will never be a superpower, much less a global power.
Jonathan, Boston, USA

Maybe when it starts spending money on its poor instead of nuclear weapons, space research and other weapons. If it has the money to do this, then it has money to help its poor! I for one will never donate to such countries.
Bruce Fox, Bournemouth, Dorset

India already became a superpower when it developed nuclear missiles.
Sung, London

It's impossible to see how India will not become a superpower. Sooner or later the economic oppression of a country with India's population will have to succeed. Now that the colonial oppressors have been consigned to history it's only a matter of time till the replacement of colonialism (economic oppression) will fail also. China is already well on the way to doing it and India can only follow. Europe, the US and their followers will be backwaters in time to come.
Len, Mandurah, Australia

No. How long before China begins to undercut jobs that have moved from the West to India? Give it two to three years and when calling our banks, we will be speaking to someone in Beijing not Bombay.
Nick, UK

India has had a sharp increase in the estimated number of HIV infections
Sezai, Eskisehir, Turkey
India has had a sharp increase in the estimated number of HIV infections, from a few thousand in the early 1990s to around 5.1 million children and adults living with HIV/AIDS in 2003 and more than 6 million today. If the number of people living with HIV/AIDS increases this fast, the social security system and the economy of India will be affected negatively.
Sezai, Eskisehir, Turkey

India has to be respected by its neighbours to become a superpower. It does not have a peaceful relationship with any of its neighbours. Can India be a responsible nation that is deemed worthy of superpower status? I think it has a way to go yet.
Anwar Khan, Toronto, Canada

The most important factor which is enabling India to achieve such growth is cost. Because wages are a lot lower than other European counties the Indian outsourcing companies can offer the equivalent service a lot cheaper. This will change once the people working for the outsourcing companies start to demand more of the new found wealth coming into the country. All labour starts out cheap but always becomes more costly.
John Fitzgerald, Boston, England

India is well poised to become a world superpower. It is ironical that the huge population that was once considered to be India's biggest liability is now rapidly transforming itself to become India's biggest asset. The fact that India has a young population is a huge bonus. The huge pool of English speaking graduates can further spur the economy. Of course the twin evils of corruption and inequality have to be eliminated before India can take its rightful place in the world.
Sarat Menon, Belgium/India

Indians are doing well in their own country and across the world
Suken Mehta, Mumbai, India
India has the capacity to become a world superpower. Indians are doing well in their own country and across the world. The only thing to come in the way is the politicians. If only they would have concern themselves with political issues - then there is nothing stopping us. India can show the other countries of the world many things and would be a different kind of superpower than the world has seen.
Suken Mehta, Mumbai, India

Successful outsourcing in India is built on the fact that the English language is common to the whole continent. This is not the case in other competing/developing nations like China. Superpower status is just a matter of time provided the problem of infrastructure and corruption is addressed. This is where the challenge really lies.
Rajen Morjaria, Kidgrove, UK

I think India has the potential and surely the opportunities to become a world superpower but what we lack is the attitude and not enough effort to get the masses out of poverty. The booming economy benefits the middle class and the rich. What about 80% of the country that is poor? A superpower should be able to provide economic freedom for all.
Divya Raman, Iowa city, USA

Two third of Indian population live in villages. Unless these villagers are brought above poverty line, offered a decent life, superpower status should not be even discussed.
Om Choudhary, Letchworth, England

India's economic success is built on the sacrifices of previous generations
Shekhar Scindia, Edison, NJ, USA
India's economic success is built on the sacrifices of previous generations, not just economic liberalisation. Even before the economy opened up these generations were quietly laying the foundations for India's future.
Shekhar Scindia, Edison, NJ, USA

I can see India growing to become one of the world's superpowers. A closed economy gave way to liberalisation in the 90's and since then, India has registered a growth rate exceeding 8% every year. In the next 5 years, India is investing heavily in basic infrastructure like energy, roads and railways. A fiercely competitive education system continues to churn out graduates in is millions every year, who can take on the demands of a changing world - be it in service sector or manufacturing. There are many issues which need addressing and some of these will get automatically corrected with better growth rates.
Anil, Herts, UK

India definitely has the potential to become a global superpower within this century. A huge pool of skilled English speaking graduates are key to the required and sustainable growth rates needed. Yet at the same time, the Indian government should pay heed to its critics who point out that social spending, especially in the areas of health and education, as well as the rooting out of corruption and encouraging civic duty are the key platforms behind any real change.
Saj Chakkalakal, UK/India

A good economy and industrial growth, yes, but superpower is asking for too much. With prevalent caste system, complete disconnection between urban and rural lives, pathetic infrastructure, rampant corruption - it's difficult to foresee India as a superpower in the next 50 years. India's focus should be to spread the riches across the nation and among the impoverished rather than eyeing the superpower tag. That means less spending on missiles and defence and more on basic needs of people.
Deep, Calcutta, India

The Indian government needs to address some major issues
Anuj Goel, New York, USA
In order to achieve sustainable economic growth, the Indian government needs to address some major issues. Investment in infrastructure, a consistent and accommodative foreign investment policy, well regulated capital markets, overhaul of the judiciary, reduced inefficiencies in government organisations, and above all, political stability.
Anuj Goel, New York, USA

India SHOULD become a world superpower soon. However, that is not enough, we must adhere to the basic requirements of the hundreds of millions of people both in rural and urban India. Even now, the infrastructure in the capital cities of several states in appalling. I think the Mumbai floods should be a wakeup call for all India.
Akshay Misra, Newcastle, UK/ Dubai, UAE

Just because multinational corporations are flocking to India mainly because of cheap labour does not mean the country will become a superpower. Anyone who visits India can see the overpopulation, extreme poverty, Third World facilities and too many social issues going on. India has a long way to go to catch up with the 21st century and I can't see this happening in our lifetimes, whatever economic analysts may say.
Richard, London, UK

Indians seem to me to be an innovative and industrious people. I am an IT worker and have certainly seen the impact that India has made in this sector (not all of it welcome from my point of view, I have to say!). I am certain that India will attain even greater influence in the global economy that it has now, but I suspect that the gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' in India will widen rather than diminish.
Rob Lovett, Swindon, Wiltshire

India has a serious problem with the spread of AIDS
Nicola, Scotland
India has a serious problem with the spread of AIDS, which at the moment is crippling Africa's economy. Facing this should be a priority or it will destroy any chances future generations have to prosper to become a global player.
Nicola, Scotland

India is an extremely large country with a huge population, Its education standards vary from illiterate to rocket scientists and brain surgeons. Its personal wealth varies from absolute poverty to incredibly rich. It has a huge agricultural base and a solid, growing industrial and electronics industry. Sound familiar? Just look at the US.
Michael, Lincoln, England

India's economic progress in recent years has been remarkable, but patchy. Progression from this early phase of development will require very substantial investment in national infrastructure. Without this, the path to growth and prosperity will be choked off and the benefits will never filter down to the bulk of the population. If India is to invest in its own infrastructure, then that same burgeoning middle class will have to pay its taxes. Tax collection is pitifully low and evasion the normal state of affairs. India's growth will ultimately depend on its ability to foster a sense of civic responsibility.
David, UK (frequently in India)

The definition of a superpower is open to debate. As India grows, she must bring with her a rising tide that will lift the poor from their misery. That in essence, is a real superpower.
Karthik Dinakar, Bangalore

While India's economic growth is encouraging, its sustainability is doubtful
Sigismond Wilson, Sierra Leonean in Michigan, USA
India's economic growth is mainly the result of "outsourcing" of hi-tech, telecommunications and other services from the West, particularly the US. This is mainly due to the availability of professional technical skills at cheaper cost. While India's economic growth is encouraging, its sustainability is doubtful as the growth of hi-tech industries in other developing countries (especially China) could, over time, serve as a major destination of "outsourcing" which could have a negative effect on India's economy.
Sigismond Wilson, Sierra Leonean in Michigan, USA

If India can overcome the strict caste system and allow "common" people to advance in leadership positions, then we can become a superpower. The elitists think a poor person cannot overcome his situation to run companies or take up government positions. I have lived in the US for 10 years now and see why the US is such a superpower. Everyone is in a position to advance, not because they were born wealthy, but because they are (usually) the best person for the job. There is a very powerful culture of entrepreneurship in the US that India can learn from.
Japjit, San Francisco, California

An increasing number of multi-national corporations are flocking to India to tap into the one-billion strong consumer market, and to take advantage of a very well educated middle class that costs a fraction of educated workforces in other countries. With the resulting inflow of foreign capital combined with expanding domestic corporate and consumer credit markets, India is well on the path to robust economic growth over the next decade. The biggest challenge to India's global economic prominence is undoubtedly the Indian government. In order to truly harness existing and future opportunities, the government needs to address some major issues - investment in infrastructure, a consistent and accommodative foreign investment policy, reduced inefficiencies in government organizations, and above all, political stability.
Anuj Goel, New York, USA

While India's economy is indeed becoming stronger the sad fact remains that a vast majority of the population (especially those at the lower end of the caste system) still live in extreme poverty.
Satish Patel Gujaarati, Indian, but living in UK
Intersting -
Majority of Indians only worried about caste system, some want infrastructure, westeners worried about job. Europeans are not happy with Euro-Zone.
Rising China a serious threat to India, says expert

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->H<span style='color:blue'>e said the country suffered from three major ills. There was an idea deficit, where the very identity of the country and the values we stand for were not clear, a vision deficit, where strategic objectives and goals were not defined and a leadership deficit, where the country was without a dynamic and vibrant leadership</span>.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>Govt freezes French contact as Paris, Delhi fight visa war</b>
<i><b>Paris </b>Refusal of visa to French journalists prompts Paris backlash: no visas for Speaker’s staff; MEA strikes back</i>

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->His delegation was to leave on the night of October 13 and while <b>Chatterjee and his wife got their French visas,</b> his official staff did not. This included Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary and other officials. So the team was split with one going to Geneva via Paris with Chatterjee and the other via Frankfurt which included MPs Hema Malini, Ajit Singh and Mohammed Salim and Secretary General (Rajya Sabha) Yogendra Narain.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Who is paying money for Commie wife's ticket? <!--emo&:angry:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/mad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='mad.gif' /><!--endemo-->
According to the latest media reports the visa issue has been resolved and business is normal.

Call me an optimist on this one... but I believe the Indians when they talk nice to the West, and the US, and I believe they are "playing" the Russians and Chinese when they talk nice to them. It is purely a matter of opinion at this point and I haven't really dug into the issue the way I hope to someday.

What really convinced me was when PM Singh addressed the joint session of Congress. He appeared genuinely moved and honored by the outpouring of goodwill offered up by the whole assembly. He almost seemed to tear up when it all began to sink in. His words made me believe that the US and India really are becoming strategic partners.

Strategically, the United States realizes that our "friendly" relationship with Pakistan is not a permanent fixture. It will eventually fade, either with the death of Musharaff or when he feels enough pressure from the Islamist "street" to begin an open antagonism with Washington. For quite some time now Islamabad has been more of a hinderance for US interests in the region than a help. One day, before too long, the relationship will dissolve completely. It is our relationship with Pakistan, largely, that is holding back our relationship with India.

India is our friend. The population has a very high level of good will toward the US, remarkably so in this age of fashionable anti-Americanism.

India's relationship with China and Russia is complex, but I think the positive moves in this area should be seen in the light of the historical animosities that exist. Consideration should also be given to the strategic position India finds herself in now that she finds herself in the shadow of the Chinese juggernaut, and once you add in a healthy and growing Sino-Russian partnership to increase the nervousness in New Delhi, you can understand their actions with regard to those two countries. I believe that India feels incredibly boxed in, and is just playing nice nice with the bully until it can reestablish itself as a more dominant player (with the US at her side IMO). There is nothing about a partnership with Russia or China which will benefit India beyond achieving a security which is understood to be temporary.

Allister, I found your article to be very informative, and I think it is a good thing to let India know, frequently, how we feel about them cozying up with our adversaries, just as they frequently let us know that it bothers them that we are too close to Pakistan.

Ultimately, I think that in a sense, India is still "in play" and has not ultimately decided which side they will be on. But in my heart I believe they WANT to be on our side, they are just unsure about the decision because it might ultimately mean they are on the LOSING side, and they have yet to work that out completely. As long as India is "in play" you will see both sides (Russia-China, and the US) wooing India. I believe she has probably made the choice (to side with the US), but that she doesn't want to fully tip her hand yet. And that is understandable.

I believe India is key to the future. The prospects of making them a permanent ally gives me great hope for the future of the planet.
I will add that India is more courageous than liberal America as it does not follow the green paper "economy stupid" pimp, hypocrisies notwithstanding. This is what essentialy drives India to Russia and China, culturaly speaking. India's waking up those dragons just as we do is not helping. America is extremely lonely and increasingly look utopian in this world while its connection with India is due to an equaly utopian Hindu liberal appeal. The tie is not lasting with utopia dying ultimately.
China and Russia know that and are thus unconcerned. For them the fist will be made ultimately, or, rather, a relationship will be maintained by them as Western type economic relations and utopian liberalism goes bankrupt. This is no marketing sport to them. For them economy is not a "I tackle you, you hit on me" type exchange but a tremendously serious scientific process which should benefit society's advance. India, while naive in its benefacting socialism, does not tolerate libertinage coexisting with it. Their poors they help are real poor, not whiners like out West. They do not tolerate lack of education and intellectual weakness. Russia and China play their game very well by advancing their "progressist" scientific people while hiding well their ultimate game of communist orgy through social achievement hegemony.

Basicaly India, China and Russia seem to be on the same warfooting page while America seem like incapable of doing anything without money or its worship through abortion of its own security for carrier's sake. American incompetence and socialo-capitalism will not be tolerated. Yet something is eerily dark and unique, and it is that America seem to do or receive harm without knowing it while the rest of the world seem to be so onto the same page of knowing.

This puts America in a position of being a permanent victim, yet a dangerous one. America is too open in its radicalism and Russia and China profit from that. Ultimate darkness is an "open" empirical faith whose secrets can be bought, not a science.
<b>The renewed interest that the USA is showing torwards India is nothing new. In the past also, the USA has ensured that it had some type of working relationship with India. With the end of the Cold War, the fear of USSR is no longer present neither the fear of entire Asia turning red.The new factor that has come into play is the growing INDIAN MARKET. This is the main reason for USA to make extra efforts in cultivating India . Another secondary factor is the growth of Chins but for balancing that USA has other alternatives like South Korea, Japan, Phillipines etc.</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>UN adopts resolution for religious harmony</b>

UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly approved a Pakistan-sponsored resolution on Sunday calling on governments to promote religious and cultural understanding, harmony and cooperation.

The text, introduced by Pakistan’s delegate Riaz Khokhar, was adopted by consensus. The resolution acknowledges the “valuable contribution” of various initiatives - including Pakistan’s enlightened moderation - as a strategy to promote peace and harmony.

By it’s terms, the 191-member Assembly expressed alarm that serious instances of intolerance and discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, including acts of violence, intimidation and coercion motivated by religious intolerance, are on the increase worldwide and threaten the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In that connection, the Assembly encouraged governments to promote, including through education as well as the development of progressive curricula and text books, understanding, tolerance and friendship among human beings in all their diversity of religion, belief, culture and language.

Introducing the text, Khokhar said that the world had to choose between a world of peace or one of conflict. Fear had to be replaced with acceptance and hatred with respect. Cooperation, and not the clash of civilisations, had to be the international community’s collective endeavour. “Promotion of understanding, harmony and cooperation among religions and cultures can lift the veil of ignorance, misconception and prejudice that have become so tragically pervasive in recent times,” he added.

He said that the item on a culture of peace was reminiscent of the commitment made at the founding of the UN 60 years ago. Those principles were reaffirmed in the Millennium Declaration five years ago and again at the World Summit this year. The dawn of the new millennium witnessed a new era, and today’s was a world of intensifying globalisation and conflict, Khokhar said. app<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->UN adopts resolution for religious harmony<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
They should start from Saudi Arabia and other middle east countries.
<b>ABIZAID PROMISES NO REPEAT OF GREAT GAME IN CENTRAL ASIA </b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Abizaid himself has gained a more rounded understanding of the current perception of the U.S. military deployment in Central Asia, while making further inroads with the hierarchy of the Kazakh Ministry of Defense. Avoiding any appearance of pursuing exclusively American security interests in the context of his remarks about the Great Game will placate only those already disposed towards closer transatlantic integration. Skeptics will note the refusal to rule out the future emergence of an American military presence in Kazakhstan. However, Abizaid now directly knows the problems that arise from the geopolitical reality of dealing with a state sandwiched between Russia and China.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>America's Place in the World</b>

India - the New France

<img src='http://people-press.org/reports/images/263-7.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
<b>Japan should boost ties with ASEAN, India</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Yomiuri Shimbun

<b>The power game is going to be more intense than ever over the East Asia Summit meeting, which opens on Dec. 14 in Malaysia.</b>

East Asia is currently undergoing major political and economic changes, with the emergence of China and India as regional powers. Japan's Asia policy must be more strategic if it wishes to engage actively in the creation of a new regional order.

Sixteen countries are to attend the summit meeting in Kuala Lumpur, including Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Three members--the 10 ASEAN countries plus Japan, China and South Korea--along with Australia, India and New Zealand.

China was the most passionate about the summit, considering it the first step toward the formation of an "East Asian community." Early last year, it even proposed hosting the summit in Beijing.

However, some destabilizing factors exist for the region's security, including North Korea and the Taiwan Strait. East Asian countries also have major differences in their political systems.

As a result, the creation of an East Asian community, including security and political aspects, is not yet realistic.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>India won't be left out </b>
<b>India's dismay over China's change of policy means that New Delhi will not allow an East Asian regional order to be formed without its inclusion. </b>

Both Japan and China were last month admitted simultaneously as associate members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation led by India. Though China initially expressed its wish to join the regional grouping, <b>India reportedly insisted that China could be only admitted if Japan also joined.</b>

<b>India is apparently trying to cooperate with Japan to put pressure on China. </b>

Japan has to enhance bilateral relations with India by accelerating negotiations toward the conclusion of a free trade agreement. It also is important for Tokyo to deepen its cooperation with New Delhi in forming a regional order in East Asia.

Not a few members of ASEAN are concerned with China's growing influence in the region. Japan should deepen its ties with them much further.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 4)
2005 - A year when foreign policy became top news

By Manish Chand, New Delhi: The year 2005 saw India get a sense of being a global power as foreign policy issues hogged prime time news and passionate debates were held over its nuclear energy deal with the US that signalled a turning point in its global status.

In tune with this growing self-image, India made the strongest-ever pitch for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

"The UN must reflect contemporary global realities," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said during his address to the US Congress in July this year. The point was taken note by the Permanent Five of the Security Council - the US, Russia, Britain, France and China - the world's most exclusive club, and although the status quoists may have managed to prevail for now, there was a growing feeling that it's only a matter of time before India took its place at the UN high table.

The biggest breakthrough was unquestionably the July 18 India-US civil nuclear energy agreement that took the strategic partnership between the world's largest and oldest democracies to a new level, and virtually sealed India's status as a nuclear power.

India's "impeccable credentials in nuclear non-proliferation", as Manmohan Singh tirelessly kept repeating throughout the year, was recognised the world over, with the Bush administration declaring its resolve to go the extra mile in persuading the US Congress to approve the deal.

Although there are still sceptical non-proliferation ayatollahs in Congress, the US administration has expressed the hope that it will be able to get Congress on board before President George W. Bush comes to India in the first quarter of next year.

Apart from sceptics in the US Congress who questioned the India-US nuclear deal, it created a raging debate in India with the Left parties - which support the ruling coalition from outside - and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party voicing anxieties about the perceived threat to national security.

Others insisted on asking larger ideological questions about the dangers of India moving too close to the US and in the process forgetting its old friends like Russia and also ideals of non-alignment.

These cynics got their opportunity when India, defying expectations, voted against Iran over its nuclear issue in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting in Vienna on Sep 24. The government's Leftist allies were the first to attack the vote by terming it a "betrayal of a friendly country" and the ideals of the non-aligned movement. A section of the media was equally harsh and savaged India's Iran vote as "capitulation" to American pressure and a surrender of national interests.

The beleaguered government, however, vehemently defended the vote, saying it was in fact its vigorous diplomacy that prevented Tehran's referral to the Security Council for its alleged violations of the NPT and provided time for diplomatic initiatives to resolve the issue within the ambit of the IAEA.

New Delhi's stand was vindicated when two months later the IAEA board of governors deferred the issue of Security Council referral and decided to give time to European Union negotiators to discuss a Russian-brokered proposal with Iran.

It wasn't just big-ticket issues like the India-US nuclear deal and the Iranian nuclear controversy that configured India's foreign policy in 2005. There were concrete achievements like the finalisation of guiding principles and political parameters by India and China to resolve their decades-old border row that has led to the forging of a strategic relationship of mutual empowerment rather than one of rivalry and confrontation.

The India-Pakistan peace process, despite serious provocations, remained on course and even registered significant progress in terms of greater connectivity and a willingness to resolve all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir - a territory over which the two countries have fought two wars.

The year started on a positive note with the launch of a trans-Kashmir bus on April 7 and the visit of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to watch cricket, but slowly the mood of high optimism became subdued as New Delhi raised afresh the issue of cross-border terror.

The Oct 29 blasts in the Indian capital raised suspicions of "external linkages", but the two sides showed restraint and went ahead with "quake diplomacy" to open points along the Line of Control to help victims of the Oct 8 quake that killed over 70,000 in Pakistan and injured thousands.

In the end, a flurry of talks on various issues, including trade, aviation and nuclear confidence building measures, kept the momentum of the peace process with two more buses - the Lahore-Amritsar and the Nankana Sahib-Amritsar bus services - finalised to connect people of the two countries.

India's neigbourhood, however, remained volatile and full of unpredictable developments that kept South Block mandarins on their toes. The Feb 1 coup in Nepal followed by King Gyanendra's power games, the resurgence of fundamentalism in Bangladesh and the anti-India mindset it embodies and the continuing turmoil in Sri Lanka that became all too visible after the assassination of its foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar were some troubling developments that called for a fresh appraisal of India's neighbourhood policy.

New Delhi's advocacy of South Asian integration came into play at the Nov 12-13 13th SAARC summit in Dhaka, but the summit ended by embroiling the grouping in new power games fuelled by a demand for China's inclusion.

But the lackadaisical functioning of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) did not dampen the ardour of New Delhi to engage with Central Asia - the new hub of oil diplomacy - and with East Asia, an economically vibrant region with some of the world's fastest growing economies.

Manmohan Singh's vision of an Asian community, enunciated at the first East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, added substance to prophecies about an Asian century in which India, along with China, is set to play a defining role.

Signs of hope and despair
Fewer conflicts and wars, but heavy suffering mark 2005

Thu Dec 29 2005

View From The West / Gwynne Dyer

FIRST, the good news. In October, a comprehensive three-year study led by Andrew Mack, former director of the Strategic Planning Unit in the office of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, concluded that there have been major declines in armed conflicts, genocides, human rights abuses, military coups and international crises worldwide.

The survey, commissioned by Britain, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland and conducted by the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, revealed a drop of over 40 per cent in the number of armed conflicts since 1992. For the biggest conflicts, involving more than 1,000 battle-deaths per year, the drop was 80 per cent.

The international media by their very nature will always offer us an image of global chaos, but in fact the Americas, Europe and Asia were almost entirely at peace during 2005, Colombia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Nepal and the southern Philippines being the major exceptions.

The Middle East was also at peace, except for the American war in Iraq, and even sub-Saharan Africa, home to over half the world's remaining wars, saw some major improvements during the year.
The peace agreement in Sudan in February ended the continent's longest and worst civil war, and the death of southern leader John Garang in a helicopter crash only weeks afterwards did not upset the deal. By the end of the year millions of southern refugees were making their way home, and even the separate and more recent conflict in Darfur in western Sudan, which has killed some 200,000 people and left up to two million homeless, was abating in intensity.

On the opposite side of the continent, the November election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as Africa's first woman president proved that the long civil war in Liberia was finally over. The integration of rebel (Hutu) forces and the regular (Tutsi) army in Burundi, together with the election of a Hutu president, suggested that the even longer civil war in that country might also be finished.

Africa is still the poorest continent, and the most turbulent one. Ethiopia's first free election ended in violence in May, the threat of another border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea grew throughout the year, and the attempt to recreate some sort of central government in Somalia after 14 years of anarchy was falling apart at year's end.

But southern Africa was entirely at peace, so much so that the Mozambicans began discussing whether they should remove the outline of an AK-47 rifle from their national flag. Almost every southern African country was not only democratic but also making significant economic progress, Zimbabwe under the aging dictator Robert Mugabe being the horrible exception.

A dark cloud lying over the future of the continent's one industrialized country, South Africa, was lifted when Deputy President Jacob Zuma was driven from office on charges of corruption and rape. Zuma, the standard-bearer for the ruling African National Congress's more populist elements, might have derailed the whole delicate project for gradually transferring wealth and power to the non-white majority without panicking local whites and foreign investors if he had succeeded President Thabo Mbeki, but he now seems permanently out of the running.

The only other region of the world that rivalled Africa in political turbulence was the Middle East -- and if you count the guerilla war unleashed by the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a genuinely regional event, then the Middle East even gave Africa a run for its money in the past year in terms of military casualties. But almost all the killing was confined to the cauldron of Iraq; elsewhere, the upheavals were mainly political.

The biggest changes by far were in Israel and Palestine, where a series of radical shifts altered the whole political landscape. The death of Yasser Arafat in late 2004 brought Mahmoud Abbas, a much cannier and more presentable leader, to the presidency of the Palestinian Authority last January, but a new Palestinian parliamentary election was repeatedly postponed (it is now scheduled for Jan. 9) because of fears that the Hamas party, which rejects territorial compromise with Israel in return for peace, would win a majority in the new parliament. This did not much matter so long as Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's government was determined to impose a unilateral peace on the Palestinians, but now the balance of forces has become much more fluid and unpredictable.

Right down to August, when Sharon forced the evacuation of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip against strong opposition from within his own Likud Party, his strategy seemed to be working. The Gaza withdrawal guaranteed that he would face no serious pressure from the United States for further concessions for at least a year or two, and meanwhile the "security fence" that would define the new de facto border between Israel and the occupied territories continued to snake its way across the West Bank. But then his own Likud Party hard-liners mounted a serious assault on his leadership, pushing his long-standing rival Binyamin Netanyahu as his replacement, and his Labour Party ally, Shimon Peres, was overthrown as leader of his own party by Amir Peretz.

Peretz, a trade-union leader who favours direct peace negotiations with the Palestinians on the basis of the existing borders, promptly broke the coalition with Likud, whereupon Peres quit the Labour Party entirely.
Faced with the prospect of being pushed out by Netanyahu, Sharon also quit Likud, taking more than half its members of parliament with him, and together he and Peres founded the new Kadima ("Forward") Party. Israel will now go to the polls shortly after the Palestinians do, and the possibility exists that it could elect a Labour government led by Peretz that is ready to open genuine peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas.

And then there was Iraq. The "turning points" in Iraq came thick and fast, from elections in January to a new government in May (after four months of negotiations), a new constitution in August, a referendum on the constitution in October, and new elections in December, but no corners were actually turned. At the end of the year, the resistance was as strong or stronger than it had been at the start, American military dead had passed the 2,000 mark, the U.S.-backed Iraqi army and police were still largely unable or unwilling to fight on their own, and the possibility that the Iraqi state might actually break up, throwing all the existing borders of the region into question, had ceased to be mere fantasy.

But the impact of the Iraq conflict on the rest of the region has so far been surprisingly limited: Heightened anti-American sentiment, some terrorist bombs in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and an upsurge in recruiting for Islamist extremist organizations. The impact in the United States has been considerably greater.

"We will never give in, and we will never accept anything less than complete victory," said President George W. Bush in a speech last month, and he will doubtless continue to tough it out, because admitting that invading Iraq was a ghastly mistake would have huge political consequences for him and his party.

However, American public opinion, long insulated from the reality of failure in Iraq by uncritical media coverage of the war, began to lose faith in the administration when confronted with its arrogant and incompetent response to the disaster of hurricane Katrina in September: By December, Mr. Bush's rating in opinion polls had reached an all-time low. With three years of his second mandate still to run, he does not yet face overwhelming political or popular pressure to change course on Iraq -- but he is at risk of becoming a premature "lame duck," seen as an electoral handicap by his own party and therefore unable to command obedience in Congress.

The most remarkable result of the Bush administration's obsession with remaking the Middle East has been Washington's astonishing failure to pay attention to Latin America -- a failure all the more remarkable when the U.S. president is a Texan who speaks fluent Spanish.

The Free Trade Area of the Americas, once a pet Republican project, has withered as more and more Latin American countries elect left-wing parties that are profoundly hostile to it, but apart from half-hearted support for a coup that tried to overthrow Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez two years ago, Washington has not once acted to block or remove these governments.

Well over half the population of Latin America is already ruled by leftist governments whose relations with official Washington are very cool -- up from only 10 per cent when Mr. Bush first took office, and the proportion might reach two-thirds during this coming year if the Mexican election also swings that country to the left.

The Bush administration is so good at alienating old friends and allies that even the Canadian election campaign was taking on a distinctly anti-American flavour at year's end.
Europe had a relatively uneventful year, apart from the rejection of the new EU constitution in the spring referendums. There were bombs in London underground trains and buses in July, but apart from that Europe remained almost as free from the alleged terrorist threat as the United States itself.

The poorest parts of Paris, and subsequently of other French cities, erupted in riots in November that were widely misrepresented as an uprising by the country's disadvantaged Muslim minority, but were actually an incoherent, apolitical revolt by all the country's neglected and discarded minorities, including the bottom end of the old white working class.

The year's most important international event was unquestionably the coming into effect of the Kyoto accord on climate change in February, following Russia's decision to ratify it late in 2004. The Montreal review conference on the Kyoto deal in November, though it failed to agree on further measures to control greenhouse gas emissions after 2012, managed to keep the door open for continued negotiations on this agenda despite the wrecking attempts of the U.S. government.

And the great new global anxiety, driven by growing numbers of cases of bird-to-human transmission of avian influenza viruses in southeast Asia, was the possibility of an influenza pandemic as lethal as the one that killed 50 million to 100 million people in 1918-19. It may not strike in 2006 or even 2007, but most experts are convinced that something very nasty is on the way.

And so, finally, to Asia, home to half the human race.

The most shocking event was the devastating earthquake that struck northern Pakistan. <span style='color:red'><span style='font-size:21pt;line-height:100%'>The shock was not that it killed more people than last December's Indian Ocean tsunami (though it did), but that the international aid was so much less and so much slower to arrive. </span>Now many of the roads are blocked by snow, and unknown numbers of quake survivors are dying of exposure and malnutrition every day in cut-off mountain villages where few buildings remain standing.</span>

Afghanistan held an election of sorts in September, but it mainly served to confirm the power of the regional warlords who took over from the Taliban in most places after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

On the positive side, the long-running crisis over North Korea's alleged nuclear weapons came to an apparently satisfactory conclusion in November, when Kim Jong-Il's regime finally got what it had been after all along: A U.S. commitment not to invade the communist dictatorship, and some foreign aid. But it had always been a fairly implausible crisis anyway, as North Korea had no conceivable use for nuclear weapons except to deter an American attack, which had never been part of the Bush administration's plans despite all the heated rhetoric. And it's doubtful that North Korea has ever built any operational nuclear weapons despite its claims to the contrary.

April saw anti-Japanese riots all over China, in state-encouraged protests against new Japanese textbooks that minimize the crimes committed by Japan when it invaded China in 1937-45. Junichiro Koizumi's centre-right government in Tokyo, undaunted by this demonstration of Chinese displeasure, went right ahead with strengthening its military alliance with the United States (and extending a Japanese military guarantee to Taiwan as well). None of this did Koizumi any harm with the voters, and he won a national election in September by a landslide.
Subsequently, he backed new constitutional amendments that would enable Japan to send military forces overseas to fight alongside its allies.

The one truly worrisome development of the year, not just for Asia but for the whole world, was the 10-year military agreement between the United States and India that was signed in Washington in July. While not a formal military alliance that commits the two countries to fight together against any foe, it has all the hallmarks of an alliance intended to "contain" China. Indeed, it looks like the capstone in a series of such alliances and agreements between the U.S. and Asian countries that now virtually encircle China to the east, south and west. That is certainly how it will be viewed in Beijing, and the concern is that the Chinese will respond to this perception of being surrounded and threatened by racing to build up their own military forces, thereby confirming their neighbours' anxieties and setting up a positive feedback loop. This is, in fact, the way most arms races get started, and the last thing Asia and the world need in the early 21st century is a Cold War between China on one side, and the U.S., India and Japan on the other.

But don't despair. This is just a possibility so far, not a reality.

Gwynne Dyer is a London-based

independent journalist.

Is India too a Failed State?

Mohan Guruswamy
July 12, 2004

The term "failed state" entered our lexicon, initially, in the context of Somalia, Afghanistan, and now increasingly for Iraq. It connotes a state of national being where the State is bereft of any authority and power. Authority and power are often confused as being the same. They are not. Authority derives from constitutional legitimacy and respect for the institutions such as the judiciary, parliament, permanent bureaucracy and press, whereas power is really the power to coerce and enforce the will of the state. Authority is abstract while power is physical. It is not to say that in a failed state the power to coerce or enforce does not exist. For instance in Somalia there are more guns in the hands of the various warring clans and then a legitimately constituted state would have ever required. Ditto for Afghanistan. Ditto for Iraq. In these countries the symbols of statehood are much in evidence. For instance, there is a currency and people trade with each other. Goods are imported and exported. Services like electricity, water and transport are still available. Schools and courts function. There is even foreign representation. For instance Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq have embassies in New Delhi. Yet we call them failed states because the people who call the shots or more often fire the shots are without any constitutional, legal, moral, divine or civilizational authority. They are in a state in which societies existed before the advent of the modern state, as we now know it. That they are nationalities or even states is not in doubt, but the point is that they have failed to be states where constitutional authority reigns and power does not grow from the barrel of a gun.

In medieval times the state mainly existed to enrich the King and the durbar and increase their power and area of domination. Not so the modern state. Implicit in the notion of a modern state is that the state is tasked with not only providing order, but also to improve living standards and transform society in keeping with the vision of its founding fathers or philosopher kings. Thus, while the ability to provide order is important, to judge whether a state has failed or only partially passed one has to judge it by the other broad parameter also. On the order question India is certainly not in the Somalia league. It is not even in the Pakistan league where the internal situation is so appalling that many western observers have taken to calling it a failed state.

Yet our own performance in this area is not something we can be proud off. In many parts of the country there is hardly any order. J&K, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and significant parts of UP and AP readily come to mind. Even in the states where we consider there is some order what is the record of the police in fighting crime? Recorded crime in Delhi was up by 55% last year. In Mumbai and Delhi, the police have had to resort to extra-legal methods, euphemistically called "encounters", to curb criminals. So bad is the situation that the press and society generally lauds this, apparently not realising that such activities have a tendency to go out of hand and that it is only a matter of time before it starts devouring the innocent also. Instead of exposing the essential criminality of a Rajbir Singh of the Delhi Police or Daya Naik in Mumbai, the media entertains us with stories of their close encounters in which bullets seem to fly in only one direction. We never hear of a policeman getting even a scratch in these encounters when it is well known that most cant shoot straight.

Only about a third of major crimes like murder and dacoity are solved and even less than 10% end with convictions. On a more mundane level, not many people stop at redlights anymore. To stop is considered foolish, so much so at the half-year point nearly 800 persons have already perished in Delhi due to automobile related accidents. Not much of a record. It has been a steep descent from Sardar Patel I to Sardar Patel II and then some more now.

The institutions from which our state should derive authority are in a poor way. It is commonly believed that the quality of justice, particularly, in our lower courts is suspect. Cases are routinely rigged, and it is not always the police that are at it. There is the case of Sanjay Dutt. Here is a man caught with two AK-47 automatic rifles capable of firing 600 rounds per minute, and he is set to be excused because his late father wanted it, and more importantly Bal Thackeray wanted it. In Kashmir or Manipur just the possession of such lethal weapons will invite an "encounter". Not only this Sanjay Dutt gets to have dinner with Prime Minister Vajpayee in New York. The "party with a difference" had as an MP a person who has been "acquitted" of the murder of the husband of the woman he now openly lives with. The murder is apparently unsolvable. Another BJP MP has been known to be an associate of the Dawood Ibrahim gang that set off the Mumbai bomb blasts. All other parties too have similarly experienced persons to offer to the people as lawmakers.

You cannot turn to the courts for justice either, though there is now a growing tendency to do so. As a consequence several million cases clog the higher courts. This has had a devastating impact on orderly civil and commercial transactions. The delays in justice routinely lead to broken contracts and agreements with little recourse to the victims. Even the state has joined in exploiting this. Witness the manner in which government departments and companies routinely hang on to properties where the leases have long expired. In fact it is so well established and accepted a practice that not to do it is to invite suspicions of an underhand deal! We have created a system in which encourages distrust. It is small wonder then that after politics, law is the most lucrative profession.

A friend who lives in Haryana was recently relating a harrowing story of how he had to pay an Inspector of Police to get a case of theft registered. This is commonplace. It is not surprising that common people without the wherewithal to get expensive and slow justice seek other avenues. In Mumbai they go to godfathers like Arun Gawli MLA, in western UP they go to the caste panchayat, in Bihar they go the caste Mafia leader, and in Telangana and Bastar they go to the Peoples War Group. The supreme irony is that in more often the quality of justice delivered by the informal system is considered by the parties concerned to be superior to that offered by the constitutional legal system. Even policemen seem to prefer these to the constitutionally ordained system when seeking justice.

Corruption is so well entrenched and accepted that one is not required to dwell upon it. The phrase "to enjoy power" has acquired an entirely different dimension to it. The critical thing is that no action of the state, however highly placed the decision-maker, escapes suspicion. Corruption, as Ms Indira Gandhi once self-servingly pointed out, is a worldwide phenomenon. Compared to the scale, on which the Suharto, Marcos and Bhutto families prospered, the activities of the Narasimha Rao and Vajpayee families, real or adopted, were small change. They can even be condoned as inevitable and a small price to pay in a country where sycophancy and flexible notions of morality are inherent cultural traits. That is if the people are benefiting from the state.

The record of the Indian State in improving the living standards of the majority of its people is abysmal. India continues to languish among the bottom five of the World Bank's annual Development Report. Almost 70% of the Indian nation lives below a reasonable poverty line that would factor balanced diet, shelter, access to education and healthcare, and basic civic amenities. Nearly 60% of all Indians are illiterate. Infant mortality is 137 per 1000 births. On all infrastructure indices we are well below, forget China, even that failed state -Pakistan! The central government earmarks less for health and education than the cumulative pay raise the bureaucracy got last year - Rs.9000 crores. As a matter of fact the State spends more, now much more on the bureaucracy - a whopping Rs.170, 000 crores for all central and state government employees each year. That is a good 10% of the GDP and it is growing. Ever wondered why the service sector is doing well? It is because Public Administration is growing at 11% each year. If we remove this growth from the annual growth of 5-6% about which all our sarkari and pink paper economists crow about, you will get a real growth much closer to the Hindu growth rate of 3% we used to deride!

The bureaucracy has a self-serving methodology to determine poverty. This is 2200 and 2400 calories respectively for urban and rural areas. That is if you are thrown foodgrains that can deliver this much of energy each day, you are no longer poor. Given the rise in foodgrains production and the states ability to make the much smaller investment by way of food subsidies, it is no wonder that every successive regime is able to crow that poverty levels are coming down.

In Dr.Manmohan Singh's last year as Finance Minister the government reported that poverty was down to 19% and tried to make us believe that the benefits of its industrial liberalisation policies were trickling down to the people. An Oxfam report and studies by leading economists like Dr.Tendulkar revealed that due to inflation and contraction of the economy in the initial years of "liberalisation" simple economic logic says that poverty levels actually went up. At that time the BJP said that it would use more parameters to determine poverty. Such a step would have resulted in targeting poverty alleviation differently. Rather than focus on providing just foodgrains, the state would also have to focus on education, health, water, work, transport, sewage and so on. With an expanded focus we would see more investments made in the rural sector, as it is here ultimately that the war on poverty has to be waged. Only by improving living standards and by providing more opportunities in rural areas can the tide of the disastrous urbanization, we are witnessing, will be controlled. On the basis of this parameter, after fifty seven years as a modern state and with very clear non-realization of the founding fathers dreams of becoming a modernized state, we are clearly a failed state.

The failures of the first fifty years very clearly set out the task for the BJP, India's first truly non-Congress government. This must be emphasized since when it the BJP came to power, the Congress truly symbolized corruption, venality and an uncaring leadership. Instead of change we got five more long years of the same. We saw the same monumental corruption. The same concentration of all powers. The same uncaring attitudes to the real problems of the country. The same kind of statism. Only, instead of a doting father, we now had a doting father-in-law. Liberalisation became Suhartoism instead of an all-encompassing reform process.

The two UPA budgets have made no significant shift in the general direction of the previous decade. Worse, the actual spending reveals a decline of spending on critical sectors. Even today the Central Government spends less on Agriculture and Irrigation than it spends on Civil Aviation. To get a better fix on the priorities of our political and bureaucratic elite, consider this. About 70% of our people are dependent on agriculture, which still accounts for 43% of the GNP, whereas there were only 12 million air-passengers last.

Today Delhi has been determined to have the highest levels of air pollution in the world. The Ganges is so polluted that health experts have determined that exposure of an even a small wound to it will result in infection. All urban, human and industrial wastes routinely flow into water-bodies and thence into the groundwater or into rivers. All over the country groundwater tables are falling alarmingly as the state has abandoned its responsibilities to provide for proper water harvesting and irrigation. The area under forest cover is rapidly dwindling. Felling of forests takes place openly with the connivance of forest officials and politicians. On a recent visit to the forests around Srisailam, which are part of the biggest Tiger Reserve in the country, this writer was not able to spot a single teak tree in forests that once abounded in them. They have been selectively cut. Even more sadly the Tiger population in this reserve has fallen by half in the last four years. Admittedly there will be some cost if we have to develop and advance industrially. But the question is have the people benefited by any of this?

Over centralization is not without its costs. Amartya Sen showed that famines in Communist China have cost the lives of more than 20 million people, because the people at the top who make all the decisions get to know about what is happening on the ground very late. Having a free media in India should help in highlighting our plight and compelling the regime to react. But what is the media focused upon? It seems to be less on real people and their issues and more on Paris Hilton. Who is Paris Hilton anyway?
World 'Lukewarn' to India's role
<!--QuoteBegin-rajesh_g+Feb 4 2006, 04:42 AM-->QUOTE(rajesh_g @ Feb 4 2006, 04:42 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4676304.stm
World 'Lukewarn' to India's role

Very interesting reading this article. THe article say's that PHILLIPINES AND FRANCE were the countries where they hold the most negative view of India, both Catholic I might add. In France Hinduism is not even recognized as a religion, goes to show you who the friends are. Phillipines is an Asian Christian country, probably what the Xtian fanactics want all Asian countries to be like.

In the U.K. they seem to have a positive view. This goes to show how the anglo-saxons are the most friendly section of the West towards Hinduism and Indians. In the U.K., there is even a state supported Hindu public school.

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