The In­dia-US ‘love fest’

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

IT might seem odd that the United States and In­dia haven’t al­ways got­ten along very well. For decades af­ter its in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain fol­low­ing World War II, In­dia was guided by a pol­icy of non­align­ment, pledg­ing it­self to nei­ther the US nor the Rus­sian side of the cold war, sus­pi­cious of both. US-In­dian re­la­tions would warm and cool over the years, but the coun­tries were never close. Now the rea­sons for In­dia to keep at arm’s length from Amer­ica have largely dis­si­pated and the mutual ad­van­tages of ever-tighter ties keep grow­ing.

So when In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi spoke with Pres­i­dent Obama in Wash­ing­ton June 7, and to a joint ses­sion of the US Congress June 8, it prompted at least one ob­server to call the oc­ca­sion noth­ing less than a mutual “love fest.” Mr. Modi was do­ing the woo­ing, and the US lead­ers seemed to like what they heard. Modi, who comes not from In­dia’s elite but who rose out of poverty, was swept into of­fice in 2014 on a cam­paign promis­ing po­lit­i­cal re­forms and eco­nomic mod­erni­sa­tion. He re­al­izes he needs Amer­i­can in­vest­ment and tech­nol­ogy to keep In­dia’s fast­grow­ing econ­omy strong. He also is ey­ing a huge eco­nomic ri­val in China to the east and ter­ror­ism in Afghanistan to the west. In his speech to Congress Modi men­tioned ad­mi­ra­tion for Amer­i­can icons Walt Whit­man, Henry David Thoreau, Abra­ham Lin­coln, and Martin Luther King Jr., and spoke of the hon­our he felt by be­ing in­vited to speak in “This tem­ple of democ­racy [that] has en­cour­aged and em­pow­ered other democ­ra­cies the world over.” Modi faces a tall task to de­liver on his prom­ise to vastly im­prove the lives of In­dia’s mil­lions of im­pov­er­ished peo­ple – many of whom still lack ac­cess to ba­sic san­i­ta­tion or elec­tric­ity – dur­ing his five-year term of of­fice. The US sees a ris­ing part­ner for trade, an ally in fight­ing ter­ror­ism, and a coun­ter­weight to Chi­nese in­flu­ence in Asia. As two of the top car­bone­mit­ting coun­tries in the world, the US and In­dia are pledg­ing to work to­gether to re­duce emis­sions that cause cli­mate change. “For us in In­dia, to live in har­mony with mother earth is part of our an­cient be­lief,” Modi told the gath­ered mem­bers of Congress. With the world map dot­ted with “hot spots” and crises, closer ties for these “nat­u­ral al­lies” is wel­come news. It’s a re­la­tion­ship that can ben­e­fit both coun­tries – and the world. — The Chris­tian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor

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