January 26, 2007 ☼ Foreign Affairs
This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.
Third, she predicts that India will not surpass China in anything other than population. Let’s say it will turn out this way. Is her argument that United States should not pursue better relations with India because it has far more poor and uneducated people than China? If this is the case, then Canada (if the Canadians allow), with its high rank on the Human Development Index should help America retain its influence in Asia. Or Kazakhstan, perhaps? And why are those rich, educated South Koreans chafing at American power in their midst when all the Americans are doing is protecting them. Besides, to look at population figures alone, without considering the differences in the future demography of India and China to miss an very important point. Fourth, she rejects the belief that India is becoming a high-tech, middle class nation. The middle class is a minority, the IT sector employs 1 million people and accounts for 4% of India’s GDP and only 3.2% of the population has internet access. Again, Crossette misrepresents: isolated data points don’t tell the story, trends do. And the trends, as Goldman Sachs points out in a recent report, suggest that the Indian economy might even overtake America’s by mid-century. But again, even if the future is less rosy, will America walk away from India simply because of the number of internet users? Finally, she disputes India’s reputation for tolerance. She might have had a point if she was referring to the creeping tendency of the Indian government to yield to competitive intolerance. Instead she tries to assess India’s reputation by just looking at one side of the story. That’s about as sensible as America’s reputation for justice merely by looking at the crimes committed. No account of India’s social ills is complete without also assessing the attempts redress them. So if courts are slow, they are also effective. If there is caste-based discrimination, there is also constitution-mandated reservations. If there are caste-related crimes, there is also national outrage. If there is communal violence, there is also communal harmony. And then there is Kashmir, whose people, according to Crossette, ‘consider themselves ethnically and historically separate from India’. Was that before or after Pakistan-sponsored jihadis began the ethnic cleansing? Let’s not forget there is an democratically elected government running the state. And then there are human rights violations including extra-judicial killings by Indian security forces. A painless, discriminating way to fight urban terrorists and insurgents awaits invention. In the meantime, there can be nothing but contempt for those who suggest a moral equivalence between terrorists and those who fight them. Barbara Crossette, clearly, is no fan of India. In her eagerness to criticise America’s “love affair” with India, she does little justice to the case she wants to make. She neither provides arguments to show why the two countries have little in common, nor does she offer evidence of the ‘lot that could pull them apart’. If her intention is to prove that the India-US relationship will weaken or prove short-lived, she would have to prove why their interests—which are more than current foreign policy positions—will diverge. A diatribe against India’s real and perceived ills is not a substitute for that essential calculus. Related Link: Foreign Policy Naifs - splashy headline, faulty analysis
— Update: After being alerted to this post, FP’s editors have amended the reference to President Kalam. They would also do well to correct Crossette’s misrepresentation of the Bangladesh genocide. See Wikipedia’s article on Archer Blood, the 1971 liberation war and Sajit Gandhi’s compilation of declassified US documents. The facts are well-known: The Pakistani army carried out a genocide in its eastern wing after elections threw up a result the junta didn’t like. The killings led to a refugee crisis which was the precipitate reason for Indira Gandhi sending in the Indian army. For the record, the India-Pakistan war started on 3rd Dec 1971 after Gen Yahya Khan ordered the Pakistan Air Force to conduct a pre-emptive strike against India. Crossette could hardly be aware of the sequence of events.
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