Wednesday, June 29, 2005

ANALYSIS: India-US tango becomes more intimate

The Indo-US relationship has survived the Bush administration’s obsession with the "war on terror" in which Pakistan stole the role from India as a close and strategic ally because of its proximity to Afghanistan and also because of President Pervez Musharraf’s enthusiasm in pursuing the American agenda. On India’s part, there is little doubt that its intelligentsia has transformed from being non- aligned and anti-US during the Cold War era to being open to Western overtures and close ties with the US. It questions the US involvement in Iraq — the vehemence among the Muslims is understandably greater than the others — but that has not prevented the burgeoning defence ties being pushed by the Bush administration. What is significant is that there is a measure of consensus. It is still not all hunky dory. Both India and the US still have to live down 40 years of estrangement and misunderstanding. The US has a record of being apathetic and India, plainly hostile. There’s still the deep problem of each side’s inability to listen to the other. A major recent issue is India’s agreeing to be part of the proposed gas pipeline network emanating from Iran. Iran is deeply into it and the US does not like India and Pakistan getting into it. Yet, Indians seem cool about it.

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