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[8 November 2010, Comments Off on Obama in India: Testing a New World Order, Starting with the Security Council, Tags: , , , , , , , , ]

Image courtesy of Flickr's tomdz

Date: 8 November 2010.

Publication: The Huffington Post.

Author: Daniel Michaeli.

The future of American global influence will be decided in Asia, and India’s success could be a prerequisite for America’s long-term position in the region. So President Obama just made a substantial step towards securing U.S. interests in Asia by endorsing India’s aspiration to greater global and regional influence. He declared today in New Delhi, “I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.” Indians have been waiting for this for a long time.

Successive U.S. administrations have avoided taking a position on India’s Security Council aspirations. Diplomatic non-answers denied New Delhi a clear path to U.S. backing, a source of exasperation for many Indians. And the U.S. approach also obscured legitimate American concerns about the limits of U.S.-Indian cooperation on some foreign policy issues of great importance to the United States.

The only problem is that when Obama endorsed India’s membership “look[ing] forward,” he actually ignored these legitimate concerns, too.

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The Commonwealth Games and India’s Global Image

This week’s shooting of two tourists in front of Delhi’s Jama Masjid drew a great deal of unwanted attention just days before the Commonwealth Games, expected to bring some 8,000 athletes and 100,000 tourists to India beginning on October 3rd. The security fears exacerbated existing worries that New Delhi won’t be ready in time (a footbridge collapsed Tuesday, for example, injuring 27 people).

After the incident, Australia warned its citizens of a “high risk of terrorism” at the games and the United States issued a travel advisory. At least three major British athletes pulled out of the games, with one quoted in the Guardian saying, “Sorry people, but I have children to think about…. My safety is more important to them than a medal.” The terrorist organization Indian Mujahadeen reportedly promised a “great surprise” for October. And today’s Asia Times reports from Pakistan that Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organizations are planning to use ongoing unrest in Kashmir and the international attention of the Commonwealth Games to bring India into their “broader regional theater.”

Yet this incident–whether it turns out to be a terrorist act or not–is just the latest in a series of events that reflects both India’s internal security problem and the country’s global image problem.

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Frustration of Foreign Companies in China Might Be a Boon for India–But Only If India is Ready
[1 April 2010, Comments Off on China’s Tense Business Climate Could Benefit India, Tags: , , , , , , ]

Integrated auto manufacturing facility near Chennai, India*

From the Indian perspective, the recent downtown in China’s business friendliness to foreign companies is good news. Some companies are beginning to question whether they have too many eggs in the China basket.

Right next door to China is another vibrant economy, with relatively stronger domestic spending, a younger population, and–within just 15 years–what is expected to become the world’s largest population, larger than China’s.

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India, U.S. Policy »

Political Costs in New Delhi and Washington

India often finds itself making major demands of the United States. It asked the U.S. to rewrite global nonproliferation rules to accommodate India’s status as a de facto nuclear power (accomplished under the George W. Bush administration), to revise U.S. technology export controls so that Indian companies and India’s military can gain access to more advanced U.S. technology (a priority for the Obama administration), and to advocate permanent membership for India in the UN Security Council (a goal to which no U.S. administration has yet committed itself).

But America turns to India rarely; and when it does, in important areas from climate change to global trade to isolating Iran, India’s approach is often at odds with that of the United States. This limits the extent of the U.S.-India relationship. Indeed, many Indian politicians are sensitive about even the perception of aligning with the United States. While it doesn’t help to blindly accuse India of intransigence without understanding its policy environment, we would be equally mistaken to deny that the relationship will have limits until circumstances change.

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U.S.-China Tensions Could Leave Room for Indian Leadership
[28 December 2009, Comments Off on Fizzling of the “G2”: Opportunity for India, Tags: , , , , , ]

After Copenhagen, many are beginning to rethink their expectations for collaboration between the United States and China. The idea of a “Group of Two” (G2) was always far-fetched and, arguably, misguided. But now that popular perception of a G2 is changing as the world finds it harder to work with China, there could be new opportunities for Asia’s other rising great power: India.

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India, U.S. Policy »

Is India on America’s Strategic Map of Asia?

When I listened to Prime Minister Singh’s speech at the Council on Foreign Relations during his visit to Washington, I was struck by how well Singh seemed to understand his audience. In spite of major differences in American and Indian approaches to global issues from climate to nonproliferation/arms control to human rights, Singh spoke of common values–an approach that speaks to the way Americans of all political stripes think about the world.

But even as Singh and Obama spoke of shared interests and shared values, there is something lacking in Washington’s approach to the strategic aspect of the relationship. The biggest question coming out of the trip is: was Singh able to place India back on America’s strategic map? Read More »

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Global Economic Engagement in 2008 Was Unprecedented
[9 November 2009, Comments Off on Indian Trade Looking Up?, Tags: , , ]

As reported last week in India’s Business Standard, in spite of stagnation in global trade growth over the past couple of years, India has just increased its trade activity to an impressive 54% of GDP, including services trade.

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