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O n a balmy day in February last year, I sat down for lunch with one of India’s most prominent political columnists at the India International Centre in New Delhi, a place where left-wing academics, journalists, and Congress Party supporters like to congregate. My friend, however, is a lady whose politics lean to the right, and I often consulted her for advice on political matters. She also happens to be very pro-American.
India's soft power has now been on display for at least a couple of decades: Indian philosophy has captivated Western minds since the 1960s; Bollywood's prodigious celluloid fare has long drawn huge audiences in significant parts of Asia, Africa, and beyond; India's English-language novelists have often edged out native British writers for the prestigious Man Booker Prize; and, of course, yoga studios have become all but ubiquitous in the United States. However, even South Asian scholars and analysts have rarely thought of India's largesse as a possible source of material power, especially in the realm of foreign assistance. With U.S.
Secretary of Defense Panetta told an Indian audience last week that "defense cooperation with India is a linchpin" of U.S. efforts to "rebalance" its defense presence in the Asia-Pacific. At a time when most American allies are plagued by shrinking economies, aging workforces, and contracting militaries, India stands out as a potential " net security provider " in Asia. Even though the Indian economy has hit a rough patch in the last few months, overall it is expanding -- along with the country's population and military.
The instant his 50-foot-tall, tungsten-tipped " dream " rocket pierced the stratosphere on Thursday, April 19, V.K. Saraswat could finally dare to exhale. Unlike with North Korea's disastrous display just days before, years of secret preparations by the director of India's Defense Research and Development Organization on its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) paid off flawlessly. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was among the first to offer congratulations, telling him that " you made the nation proud ." The last time an Indian nuclear scientist was so honored, the country held parades and revelers even worshipped the bombs.
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph NEW DELHI – India and Pakistan are enjoying one of the better periods in their turbulent relationship. Recent months have witnessed no terrorist incidents, no escalating rhetoric, and no diplomatic flashpoints.
"They look like animals when they come down, unshaven, dirty, and thin as rods," said an Indian officer in September 2003, describing troops returning from a three-month stint on Siachen, where India and Pakistan had fought a war over an uninhabitable wasteland of snow and ice on their border since 1984. In November 2003, the two sides agreed on a cease-fire; since then neither has fired a shot. Yet thousands of men remain, still dying from the brutal conditions -- in April, an avalanche buried 140 Pakistani troops and their civilian staff alive.
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph NEW HAVEN – Today, fears are growing that China and India are about to be the next victims of the ongoing global economic carnage.
I s India doing marvellously well, or is it failing terribly? Depending on whom you speak to, you could pick up either of those answers with some frequency. One story, very popular among a minority but a large enough group—of Indians who are doing very well (and among the media that cater largely to them)—runs something like this. “After decades of mediocrity and stagnation under ‘Nehruvian socialism’, the Indian economy achieved a spectacular take-off during the last two decades.
In May, the Indian government announced that it was giving $5 billion in aid to African countries in the interest of helping them meet their development goals. "We do not have all the answers," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, "but we have some experience in nation-building, which we are happy to share." The British could be forgiven for being annoyed with Singh's largesse. Britain, after all, currently gives more than $450 million a year in aid to India, and has plans to continue doing so for at least the next few years. The British economy is bumping in and out of a recession, while India's gross domestic product is growing at more than 8 percent a year.
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph NEW DELHI – Will 2012 prove to be a year of renewal for India, or another annus horribilis ? No country progresses unerringly, but India cannot afford another politically and economically torpid year like 2011. For India, last year is a year best forgotten.
Random House 288 pp. Faber & Faber 272 pp.
Speech at a function to re-release a book of essays in honor of Dr. Manmohan Singh. Honourable Prime Minister, my fellow panelists, and distinguished guests:
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph NEW DELHI – At a time when China’s economic, diplomatic, and military rise casts the shadow of a power disequilibrium over Asia, the just-concluded visit of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to India cemented a fast-growing relationship between two natural allies. Now the task for Japan and India is to add concrete strategic content to their ties. Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph Asia’s emerging balance of power will be determined principally by events in East Asia and the Indian Ocean. Japan and India thus have an important role to play in preserving stability and helping to safeguard vital sea-lanes in the wider Indo-Pacific region – a region defined not only by the confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but also by its significance for world trade and energy supplies.
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph NEW DELHI – The United States recently took the Iran-sanctions monkey off India’s back: it granted India an exemption from Iran-related financial sanctions in exchange for significant cuts in Indian purchases of Iranian oil. Nevertheless, Iran continues to cast a pall over an otherwise brightening US-India relationship. Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph From India’s perspective, Iran is an important neighbor with which it can ill afford to rupture its relationship. Indeed, India already seems locked geographically in an arc of failing or dysfunctional states, confronting it with external threats from virtually all directions.
"65 years since your independence," a new battle for freedom is under way in India -- according to a YouTube video uploaded by an Indian member of Anonymous, the global "hacktivist" movement. With popular websites like Vimeo.com blocked across India by court order, the video calls for action: "Fight for your rights. Fight for India." Over the past several weeks, the group has launched distributed denial-of-service attacks against websites belonging to Internet service providers , government departments, India's Supreme Court, and two political parties. Street protests are being planned for this coming Saturday, June 9, in as many as 18 cities to protest laws and other government actions that a growing number of Indian Internet users believe have violated their right to free expression and privacy online.