January 20, 2011


India's Smart Power in the US: As India's involvement in the growth of the US deepens, the search for the soul of India gains momentum (T P Sreenivasan, 1/20/11, Rediff)

India is very much a part of the recovery of the US. The gifts that President Obama brought back from India do not tell the whole story.

New York is a happening place whether it is frozen cold or steaming hot. A peep into the control room of a CNN live show, featuring the media star Anderson Cooper, is enough to know the zest that goes into television production here. In the electronic maze of the control room are multiple men and women glued to television and computer screens, performing specialised functions which a single individual may be required to do in an Indian studio.

Cooper has about 40 people working for him in his production team -- this is for a single, nightly one-hour show. But his stardom does not keep Cooper from being as charming in personal conversations as he is on camera. He recalled his visits to India and said that India was an exciting place to cover. It was nice to see the walls and screens of the CNN office feature its Indian stars, Fareed Zakaria and Dr Sanjay Gupta.

Stars aren't just on television in America; the best chefs are celebrities, too. Manhattan's proud Indian fusion restaurant, Tabla, with its legendary Goan chef, Floyd Cardoz, closed its doors at the end of 2010. Its innovative Indian cuisine had held New Yorkers spellbound for ten years. But the owners of the restaurant found it harder after the recession to fill its massive dining rooms night after night. But I am sure Cardoz will not be wasted in the city that loves its Indian haute cuisine.

An equally resplendent, expensive Indian restaurant, Junoon, has opened its doors just around the corner from where Tabla thrived. Vikas Khanna, a young chef from Amritsar, who began cooking at the age of eleven, has become the talk of the town.

The owner of Junoon, Rajesh Bhardwaj, originally from the Taj group, whose Cafe Spice chain is popular with New Yorkers, seemed confident that the US economy was on its way to full recovery and invested in a first-class gourmet place for Indian food. And just last week, Chef Hemant Mathur, part of the widely-acclaimed Devi with Suvir Saran, has opened another high-end Indian eatery, Tulsi. [...]

As India's involvement in the growth of the US deepens, the search for the soul of India gains momentum. India's smart power gets projected in the US in very many ways. The effort of Indian public diplomacy in the US should be to accentuate the positive elements.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at January 20, 2011 7:15 AM
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