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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

From India With Love

Andrew "Skip" March

Frederick Stakelbeck has made a compelling argument regarding the future of great power relationships in Asia and why the US needs to sharpen its focus with this region. Given the economic decline of Western Europe and Asia's own recognition of the benefits of economic development, Asia is, for the foreseeable future, the formidable economic and political force to be reckoned with. So what's the US to do?

One necessary part of the strategy would be to nurture relationships with countries in the region that not only embrace economic development but also democracy. India then would be a country of choice. History has demonstrated that regional stability results from not only economic and political cooperation, but also from a balance of economic, political and military power. We have also seen that stability emanates from governments that are accountable to its citizens.

Recognizing the time limitations and the fact that I was meeting with people doing business with the US, my 2 weeks in India on business nonetheless provided some eye opening perspectives. Local newspapers (English speaking) provided commentary and reporting on issues we would all be familiar with:
-Economic growth and the opportunities and challenges derived
-Accountability of elected officials to their citizenry
-The spread of democracy and its benefits
-Diversity of the population
-Poverty and wealth
-Potential membership on the UN Security Council
-Pros and cons of government programs (i.e health care)
One front page article pointed out that the high cost of gasoline largely came from taxes (50-60% of the retail cost) and the strain it placed on lower income families/individuals.
Informal conversations with individuals I was meeting with involved thoughts and focus on theses same issues.

We should keep in mind that India as a country is relatively new, coming into existence in the late 1940's. It's progress, economically and politically, seems remarkable for such a short period of time. It is considered to be one of the very important world powers now and for the future.

As for lessons to be learned for other developing regions in the world, we should keep in mind that India had been colonized for over two centuries. It's populace was considered (not long ago) to be uneducated and incapable of embracing democracy, freedom, economic opportunity, even education. It has struggled with episodes of internal violence from extremists, yes terrorists. Yet given the chance, Indian citizens have increasingly embraced all of those opportunities previously denied and they are turning their country into a world power that the US will want to pay close attention to.

Andrew "Skip" March

2 Comments:

At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome article. When are you going to let Mike write something?

 
At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! »

 

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