March 7, 2005

MONSOON WEDDING:

It's time for the U.S. and India to go steady (Stanley A. Weiss, March 8, 2005, International Herald Tribune)

It's time for Washington to respect India as the mature, responsible global power it is. Within three decades, India is projected to have the world's third largest economy and more people than China. If Beijing continues to accelerate the modernization and build-up of its military, as Washington and New Delhi fear, India will be to South Asia what Japan is to East Asia - an indispensable counterbalance to China.

President George W. Bush has pledged a strategic partnership with India and should take the plunge, starting with a trip to New Delhi bearing the dowry that would win Indian hearts - American support for an Indian seat on an expanded UN Security Council. Bush should also breathe new life into bilateral trade, which last year was a mere $21 billion. The U.S.-China economic relationship, by comparison, was last year worth $230 billion.

Building on the recent easing of U.S. export controls on technology for India's space and civilian nuclear programs, Washington and New Delhi should move ahead with cooperation in high-tech trade and missile defense.

For its part, India must finish what it started in 1991 - letting go of socialist economic policies that stifle innovation and scare off foreign investment.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who as finance minister championed the economic reforms of the early 1990s, is off to a good start. His first budget proposes major investments in education, modernizing India's colonial-era infrastructure, lowering tariffs, lifting restrictions on foreign ownership and moving ahead with privatization of state-owned companies.

With the right direction and some clever choreography, the actors in the elaborate Indian-American drama can fulfill Singh's wish that, "the best is yet to come."


A hundred years from now, cementing India into the Axis of Good will be one of the things for which President Bush is most widely praised. A trip there and a full embrace would be historic and most welcome. Making it a trip to the Philippines, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, India, Israel, Turkey, North Africa, Poland, the Czech Republic, and England would be epochal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 7, 2005 9:01 AM
Comments

India has great potential but has a long way to go. India's labor rigidity is far worse than Europe's; factories may not close nor employees laid off without state permission; the govt bureaucracy is notorious for its inefficiency; and huge swaths of the economy are still socialized.

Posted by: Gideon at March 7, 2005 10:53 AM
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