Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bush and India

Today's New York Times has an interesting piece by Anand Giridharadas entitled "India Has a Soft Spot for Bush" in the Week in Review section.  While much of official India (and regular citizens) are very happy that the nuclear deal went through, and grateful to the American President for pushing it, I think the article overstates the affection that India feels for Mr. Bush.  Also, the hope that a declining American empire can pass its values to a rising India seems a bit farfetched until there is a major change of attitude in the middle and upper classes here. Once those groups accept the need to create, fund, and empower effective institutions to resolve many of the collective action problems that India faces it will be plausible as an heir to American empire -- mainly in the sense of giving opportunities to its citizens.  On the international side, India needs to accept that playing an international role means more than showing up at negotiations and not moving (although they clearly are emulating the US with this tactic), or at least the acknowledge the tremendous work (and resources) that is required to pull off that strategy, especially when you are not yet the superpower you dream to be.

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