Why do Americans spend so much time analyzing China’s growth, but not India’s? Yes, the growth of Chinese economic and military power since Deng Xiaoping proclaimed “to get rich is glorious” has been nothing short of extraordinary. But India has also embraced markets over the years, and the results have been equally amazing. We tend to think of India in terms of its relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan, and in terms of its cultural power, rather than in terms of the economic and geopolitical benefits of a prosperous South Asian democracy. But that should end. We have a lot to gain by befriending India, and a whole lot to lose.
The Bush administration made it a point to solidify ties with this formerly nonaligned country. It seems like the Obama administration shares the same goal, but unfortunately also sees India as a lower priority than Afghanistan, Iran, reset with Russia, and “strategic reassurance” with China. Of course, an India closely aligned with the United States could help with some of these strategic dilemmas, and hedge against other threats. Why can’t Obama spend less time assuaging America’s competitors, and more time supporting her friends? A good place to start would be an Indian-American free trade agreement. It’s one European idea Obama ought to emulate.