So the leader of the world’s oldest democracy visits the world’s largest. Both are unbelievably diverse and tolerant societies (for the most part), both are demographically and economically dynamic. Both have diversity and tolerance deep in their DNAs . (Again, for the most part).
But that’s where the similarities end. One is (inspite of all its economic troubles), the world’s most affluent countries. The other borders on sub-Saharan levels in its performance in child malnutrition, its education and per capita income at absymal lows.
However the poorer one is one of the world’s most dynamic economies. Unlike China (the other great story), its growth is not because of government – but for the most part, inspite of it. Its because of its in-bred dynamism and entrepreneurship. (also, known in certain circles as jugaad). The other one, looks moribund right now and extremely divided in the fundamental direction it chooses as a nation.
So what do the two leaders of the two countries talk about. The blogger feels that if there was ever a time when the United States ever needed India and if India ever needed the United States, this is it. Much has been written about how the United States needs India for selling its products. Fair point, India’s GDP is growing at astronomical proportions and is largely expected to keep growing at even higher percentages. So the United States does need access to Indian markets – especially as India gets more affluent (and hence a classic market for American products). The United States needs India to keep its exports robust – but perhaps much more importantly, to align with a nation that fundamentally is very similar inspite of its obvious differences. It needs India to help project their mutual geopolitical vision. It needs India to be relevant in areas of the globe where it cannot reach with just brute economic prowess anymore. It needs India to counter China.
But, in the mind of this blogger, it needs India for the same reason why India needs the United States as more than just a casual geopolitical ally – because the world right now is a tripartite of power circles. The first circle is the tolerant, forward looking democracies. Think India, the US, old moribund Europe. Circle two are gigantic, fast growing autocracies and dictatorships. Think China, Russia and their dictatorial stooges in Somalia, Burma etc. And Circle 3 are the middle eastern oil producers. Enough have been said about their societies and the only other thing they export other than oil. So this blogger shall not elaborate. And Circle One needs, for the sake of the world, to dominate. And that’s fundamentally why India and the United States need each other.
I think the Obama trip to India is viewed with the lens of just immediate impacts and results. However, I think this is an incremental historic turning point. Much like the Clinton and Bush visits.
Have fun in India Mr. President. People still love you there. And lets get this cultural and historical inevitably going.