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Bush and the Idea of India

Once the US President was convinced that India must have its rightful place in the world affairs, he never looked back, says C. Raja Mohan

A week, they say, is a long time in politics. That is certainly true of the three-day visit by US President George W. Bush. In a brief trip that has been marked by both protests and celebration, Bush has met one of India’s long-standing ambitions and has posed it an unprecedented challenge.

It is this paradox that India will have to confront in the coming days and months. Even as he heralded India’s rise as a global power and welcomed it to the world’s most exclusive nuclear club house, Bush has challenged India to match its changing global identity with a will to power and a commitment to pursue the very political values it holds high.

While India has rapidly evolved in the last decade and a half, especially in economic realm, its foreign and national security policies have found it difficult to keep pace with its growing national strength.

This, however, is not unique to India. The United States itself became the world’s largest economic power at the turn of the 20th century. Yet it took another four decades, before the US was compelled to undertake its responsibilities as a global power.

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It needed the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 to shake a complacent American nation, so comfortable in its hemispheric isolationism, into undertaking a worldwide role.

India, too, will take its time in engineering a better fit between its growing capabilities and enduring values on one hand and contribution to global peace and stability on the other. But the world is not going to wait for decades to see that happen.

Few in the Indian establishment were willing to bet even a few days before Bush arrived in New Delhi that he would concede all of India’s demands, including some unreasonable ones on the nuclear separation plan and on assured fuel supplies.

First published on: 11-03-2006 at 02:36:35 am
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