Advice for Obama: Visit India for ‘Jai Ho’ US policy

June 12th, 2009 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, June 12 (IANS) The head of a Washington think tank has some unusual advice for President Barack Obama: visit India and see why ‘Jai Ho’ should be the key words of the US’ long- term foreign policy.
David Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and president and CEO of Garten Rothkopf, a Washington DC-based international advisory firm, has been so impressed with India despite its dichotomies that he says Obama could profit more by a trip to that country than the headline-grabbing Egypt visit of last week.

“To be perfectly honest, I think a lot more real and lasting (rather than symbolic and likely to be fleeting) good would be likely to come from President Obama making a trip to the land of Gandhi than his recent trip to the land of Mubarak and Nasser,” writes Rothkopf in his blog on the website of the Foreign Policy journal.

The blog entry’s headline sums it up: “Dear Mr. President: the key words to long-term US policy success may be ‘Jai Ho’ ” - a reference to the popular song from Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire”.

About his recent trip to Mumbai, he writes “…but I’ll admit it, despite the gut-wrenching deprivation in which the slum-dwellers live, it is hard to not to look around at cranes on the horizon or the ubiquity of cell phones (a phone line for life costs $2) or to think of the recent successful elections in this complex country of a billion and not think that India has the wind at its back at the moment. That doesn’t minimize the social challenges but it clearly gives a feeling of vitality and hope.”

That is not the only welcome relief he finds in Mumbai after a stopover in London.

“What a relief to be seeing the stories of Manmohan Singh’s new government on the front page of the paper and not the stories from the front pages in my last stop noting the electoral success of the BNP, the racist, troglodyte British National Party.

“Here in India, taxi drivers talk with palpable pride at the advent of the Tata Nano, a tiny car that is a source of great national pride. Business executives cite the ease with which they meet much higher average gasoline mileage targets than posed in the United States.

“I mean, I get it, this is a very poor country with a wide range of desperate needs (over 40 percent of Indians don’t have access to electricity yet). But you’ve got to ask which way the trends are pushing us… and you also have to ask why the US has not made a more urgent priority of dramatically strengthening relations with this country,” says Rothkopf, the author of “Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They are Making” and “Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power”.

The expert argues that stronger India-US ties “could not be more central to containing the threat in Pakistan, counter-balancing China, promoting democracy and managing a whole host of global threats from climate to proliferation”.

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