This optimism is based on shared political cultures (both countries are democracies), shared threat perceptions (China and jihadist terrorism), and notions of mutual economic interests. From Google CEO Sundar Pichai and TV star Mindy Kaling to Vice President Kamala Harris, prominent Indian-Americans are heavily involved in business, culture and politics, making the view brighter from Washington.
But this impression allows the President of the United States to take for granted that relations with India need no special care beyond intergovernmental arrangements and the occasional photo shoot with the Prime Minister. Communicating with Indians takes very little effort. Citizens of the world’s most populous country, perhaps with the help of Pichai’s flagship product, will take pains to inform themselves about America’s actions affecting their lives.
This miscommunication is a major cause of growing suspicion among Indians of US foreign policy objectives. A new survey shows that Indians see the United States as the biggest military threat to their country after China and, more shockingly, put it ahead of Pakistan. A poll conducted by Morning Consult, a US-based global business intelligence firm, also showed that Indians were more likely to blame the US and NATO than Russia for the war in Ukraine.
Skepticism of the West’s war narrative is common in the global South, but India’s perception that America poses a threat to it needs further study. At the very least, the Biden administration should recognize and rectify its omissions in handling ties with countries that the president sees as theoretically important partners.
It would be too easy to attribute India’s suspicion of US intentions to Cold War memories of US support for Pakistan when India was allied with the Soviet Union. Growing up in India in the 1970s, I remember when Richard Nixon ordered a task force led by the USS Enterprise to be sent to the Indian Ocean to boost Pakistan’s morale during the war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. I remember his parents talking about Friends of the Indian Navy father spun threads against the American fleet about its readiness to carry out a suicide operation if all else fails.
But Washington switched sides from Islamabad to New Delhi long ago, and the US Navy now conducts regular joint exercises with its Indian counterpart. India is a key member of the US-led Quad, a security group that includes Japan and Australia, designed to check China’s ambitions in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Aren’t Indians insane to recognize the real military threat from the US?
Rick Rossow, an India expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, believes the fear is rooted in the consequences of American military adventures elsewhere.
Rossow, Wadhwani Chair of the US-India Policy Study at CSIS, said India, as one of the world’s largest importers of hydrocarbons, is collateral damage from US policies that have led to soaring oil and gas prices. points out. “I can make a strong case that the war in Iraq and sanctions against Iran are hurting the Indian economy,” he says.
However, the war in Ukraine is a more complicated case. As a democracy whose people remember the damage wrought by British colonialism, Indians should sympathize with a country that resists the imperial ambitions of a tyrant. Given New Delhi’s long-standing relationship with Moscow, and its ability to cut Russian oil prices and profit from the war, it is doubtful that President Vladimir Putin, not the US or NATO, was the driving force. There is no room for
Part of the problem is that the Indian government has been unchallenged by the docile media, and has spun blunt opportunism as a form of noble nationalist resistance to pressure from the West. To deflect uncomfortable questions about New Delhi’s reluctance to denounce Russian aggression, Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar accused the West of hypocrisy and argued that anger was selective. bottom.
Equally important, however, neither Ukraine nor the United States have been enthusiastic about their positions to Indian audiences. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government may have its hands full with war, but the Biden administration should do better.
why not? For one thing, I don’t care. But perhaps more disturbing is the lack of minimal means of communication with the Indians. The State Department faces a chronic shortage of Indian language speakers. Also, New Delhi does not have an ambassador. The position has remained vacant since Biden took office.
This is hardly the exception. But even Democrats question his selection of Eric Garcetti for the Delhi office. I’m here. he denies this.
Biden’s fixation on Garcetti’s candidacy over the past year and a half is baffling. An embassy that has been run by ambassadors has failed to even maintain a semblance of stability. The longest serving of these had no experience in India at all. (By contrast, India’s ambassador to Washington, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, is on his fourth assignment in the United States.)
While there are no prominent Indian hands in the Biden White House and there was much debate about Harris’ ancestry during the campaign, the administration has not capitalized on the enthusiasm Harris generated among the Indian public. No. Putting the Vice President at the center of India policy would be a good starting point for undoing the damage America has left unattended for years.
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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Bobby Ghosh is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist on foreign policy. Previously, he was Editor-in-Chief of Hindustan Times, Editor-in-Chief of Quartz and International Editor of Time.
More articles like this can be found at bloomberg.com/opinion.