Obama to India: “Pull up a chair”

In case you haven’t heard about the major announcement in India this morning, President Obama has called for India to join the UK, US, France, Russia, and China as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Practically speaking of course, there would need to be a complete overhaul of the UN structure if that were to happen, but this is still a significant announcement and one that will most definitely antagonize China:

Members of Parliament reacted with sustained applause. But neither the president nor his top advisers offered a timetable for how long it would take to reform the council, or specifics about what steps the United States would take to do so. Last month, India won a two-year non-permanent seat on the council, which currently has five permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

But expanding the body will be a complicated endeavor that will require the cooperation of other countries and could easily take years. “This is bound to be a very difficult process and it’s bound to take a significant amount of time,” William J. Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said here…

“In Asia and around the world, India is not simply emerging,” Mr. Obama said in his speech, echoing a line he used earlier in the day at a joint news conference with Mr. Singh. “India has emerged.”

Many Indian officials had worried that the Obama administration was less interested in India than China, and that the bilateral relationship was lacking a “big idea,” such as the landmark civilian nuclear agreement between the two countries under former President George W. Bush. [link]

56 thoughts on “Obama to India: “Pull up a chair”

  1. dumb move by POTUS. Why antagonize a nation that owns a substantial amount of our debt? I’m sure India could do w/o the extra headache.

    • What kind of leverage do you think owning a lot of debt implies? It’s not like they can just demand you pay up now. China has treasury bills. Treasury bills get paid back at a fixed, predetermined rate. There is no means by which anyone can exercise any leverage over the US by holding US debt unless they also have an army to back their demand up. If they get to making unreasonable demands it’s actually the US that has leverage as we have the ability to freeze payments on bills to China, write the debt off, and go “nyah nyah!” because they can’t do a thing to stop us.

  2. Just because the Chinese own a lot of our debt, we don’t have to always please them. We are not their slaves. Also, irrespectfully of who gets a head-ache, India should be proud of this development. Indian pharma-companies can make a nice generic drug to cure any and all head aches.

    Bravo Mr. President. Hopefully, there is a fast-track program for the Indians to be a part of this.

  3. Oh yea, reorganize the security council!

    I really question what France is doing in there. They should be stripped of their seat. I think other emerging nations like Brazil should have a seat.

    The “council” is a colonial left-over that would do well with some cleaning-house.

  4. Why antagonize a nation that owns a substantial amount of our debt?

    My tweet yesterday was :

    Some countries are superpowers, some aspire to be superpowers and some have aspirations of superpower-dom thrust upon them by US foreign policy.

    There is a reason why the US is propping up India in a big way.

  5. I really question what France is doing in there. They should be stripped of their seat. I think other emerging nations like Brazil should have a seat.

    Au contraire, France has successfully trashed its pre-1945 troubles and for decades now charted an independent path. It has in concert with Germany claimed a space for Europe in the international order, doggedly piloted a resurgence of European science and technology touching high points with successful initiatives such as EADS, ESA and the Large Hadron Collider, apart from running some truly awesome scientific institutions. It has also nullified one of the key goals of British foreign policy of the last 1000 years of not allowing the emergence of a dominant power on the Continent, by first keeping Britain out (to buy time to strengthen itself) and then by co-opting it into the EU. Today the corporate executives, bankers and lawyers with a mistress in Paris are by no means the only Anglophones with a residence in France. There are 1000s of Anglophones settled in S. France (an an almost equal number settled in parts of London). Unlike the US poodle UK that followed its master’s madness into over leveraged asset bubble doom, the France and Germany led continent stayed out of the party. By any measure France has been the most successful European power to emerge from WW2.

    The UN is a funny institution. Libya chairs a human rights commission, while Pakistan now chairs the IAEC! No sense of irony. India, without a veto has achieved a lot in the past by playing the Soviet Union against the US and keeping China out of the deliberations. But with a dominant and belligerent China, and a Russia seeking its own deals with China, a Sec.Council chair could help India. Also having Brazil on the Council as a friendly nation wouldn’t hurt.

  6. It has also nullified one of the key goals of British foreign policy of the last 1000 years of not allowing the emergence of a dominant power on the Continent, by first keeping Britain out (to buy time to strengthen itself) and then by co-opting it into the EU.

    And then by merging it’s paltry military with Britain’s? Real trump card, that.

  7. And then by merging it’s paltry military with Britain’s? Real trump card, that.

    You seem to forget that France recently re-entered NATO after ~4 decades and like UK has enjoyed the collective security umbrella of the alliance even otherwise all these years. France’s existential threats aren’t continental anymore. Not even intercontinental, because that ended around the time France quit NATO and concluded its own arrangement with the late USSR. France also is not about to launch gunboat diplomacy anywhere in the world. So it maintains a military that is just the right size for itself. It has also been gradually amping up the quality of its ranks by doing away with conscription and moving towards an all volunteer force. Between them France and the UK have 8 boomers and have enough to spare for a 2nd or even 3rd strike.

  8. so it is china that’s opposed to this? my impression was that the two old european powers are the most suspicious of expansion because it would dilute one of their major planks of power, the veto in the council. china after all is rising, UN or not. frankly, so is india. the perm. security council position would just ratify that. japan is arguably as influential internationally as france or the UK cuz of its huge economy, and it never got that seat. and with its current stagnation it probably won’t.

    • china is the one holding back both india and japan, as it will severely limit its monopoly when it comes to asian powers.

  9. The US has historically been the country to directly oppose the inclusion of India into the UN security council(which they’ve been trying to reform for some time now to no avail). The other countries opinions have been either positive or lukewarm. Japan, India, Brazil, and Germany have organized an alliance known as the G4 nations in order to carve out permanent seats for themselves in the UN. China has actually supported India’s bid to join as a permanent member of the security council as can be read from the following article: http://www.hinduonnet.com/2005/04/12/stories/2005041210160100.htm

  10. It’s not like they can just demand you pay up now. China has treasury bills. Treasury bills get paid back at a fixed, predetermined rat

    The debt is not static but regularly retired and reissued. As these bonds mature (even the 30 year ones from a few decades back), new ones are issued to replace them – the US is not retiring its debt faster than its spending. If the markets lose confidence, reissuing this debt would become too costly as is what happened with Greece. Now, China being the biggest non-domestic holder has the ability to no longer buy new treasuries to replace the old ones. Similarly, if China decides to sell its current holding, the market gets flooded with treasuries and the cost of new issuance will go up (i.e. the US will have to pay more in terms of interest to induce investors to buy its debt). Of course, China stands to lose as much – US is the biggest importer from China and also all of China’s holding will fall if it tried to flood the market with US debt.

  11. China actually doesn’t support India’s inclusion in the UN Security Council as a permanent member. The Hindu article that was posted was from 2005, when China supposedly recognized Sikkim as Indian territory in exchange for India’s explicit recognition of Tibet as Chinese territory after negotiations with the previous BJP government. In practice, China has reneged on this by contesting “The Finger Area” of Sikkim as part of India and by repeatedly and aggressively crossing the border in that area. In fact, Chinese transgressions on the Line of Actual control (the de facto border between Indian Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet) have actually increased since 2008, but the Congress party led government has pressured the Indian media into ceasing reports of this. In light of that, a number of Indian strategic thinkers have been sounding the alarm bells at the possibility of a limited Chinese strike along the lines of its 1962 campaign with the goal of Arunachal Pradesh in mind. This is further reflected by the recent live fire joint services military exercises the Chinese held for the first time in Tibet.

    Additionally, whatever the views people may have on the Civil Nuclear Deal and its merits, China did everything it could to oppose the NSG’s waiver through other countries. Much as in the UN Security Council, China rarely elects to overtly oppose overtly (unless protecting states such as Myanmar and Sudan and Pakistani groups such as LeT with its veto), but prefers to operate behind the scenes. So the answer is no. Whatever the inclinations European powers may have about having more representation on the Security Council, China is the primary opponent to reform. As was pointed out accurately above, it is not in China’s interests to have two countries that have active territorial disputes with it on the UNSC. It is certainly not in line with its aim of establishing a bipolar world (for the interim) and a unipolar asia.

    (FYI, there were links when I attempted to post the first time; however, since those are typically held up for moderator review, I went ahead and reposted sans links since the discussion is still fresh)

  12. Don’t most leading economists think of China and America as one symbiotically connected financial entity? They build we buy and on and on and on.

    • except, America has blinders on and thinks that China is dependent on Americans consuming its products, totally unaware of a three times larger middle-class in India and other emerging economies (Brazil, Korea etc) which will easily eat America’s lunch and keep China’s economy booming.

      • true but there is a huge gap between the wealth of america’s middle class and that of emerging nations. That gap will narrow but not for some years. It is during that ‘grace period’ when all the action will happen

        • rise, anyone who talks about a “three times larger middle class” in india vis-a-vis the USA is not creditable.

          • No kidding…and yet every joe shmoe throws it out there, television pundits are the worst.

            If you want a fair comparison how about the indian upper class vs the US middle class…you still might fall short.

          • 3x is a guesstimate (300mil versus 3×300~= 1bil). I dont see why Americans would doubt the ability of China selling its goods to emerging economies. These aren’t exactly luxury goods. Most television pundits generally dont mention this at all, because all I hear is that America and China are in a symbiotic relationship and if Americans dont consume, the Chinese would have no place to sell their goods (which is what I think is “putting blinders on”).

  13. Brown, China does not support India’s inclusion. As noted in my previous comment, certain things are stated for public consumption and for diplomatic maneuver, while certain actions take place behind closed doors. Actions speak louder than words.

    http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/32686850/China-opposes-Indias-UN-Security-Council-bid http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6913250.ece http://in.news.yahoo.com/43/20101012/812/tnl-un-reforms-being-opposed-india_1.html

    Further evidence of this is seen in the opposition to Shashi Tharoor’s candidacy as UN Secretary General. Though his service to India as an MP is questionable, he was very well qualified for the UN position, which eventually went to Ban Ki Moon. China abstained and preferred to let the US veto Tharoor in favor of Moon. Again, as mentioned above, China typically prefers to abstain rather than be publicly vocal about its opposition to others in international fora, while supporting proxies or other members to do its dirty work behind the scenes.

  14. Second, even the US backing has its own hedge. Obama, in his speech, said that he first wanted a “reformed” Security Council that includes India. But what does Washington mean by “reformed.” Probably it means that, before India’s request should be acted upon, the Council’s membership must be expanded to at least 21 or 22 countries. And there also may be other changes that the US will insist on. In addition, there is the question of whether India, if it does get voted onto the Security Council, gets the seat with a veto or without one. The five permanent members will have a say in that decision — and the issue will be whether India would accept a spot sans the veto.

    More From: High Hurdles for India’s Seat on the Security Council

    The headlines about the Obama speech have mostly been about his backing for a permanent Indian seat on the U.N. Security Council. I think that was a throwaway line. It just won’t happen. People have been talking about the need for reform of the Security Council for decades, because it’s ridiculous that membership is based on who won World War II. But just because something is ridiculous doesn’t mean it’s possible to change it. The existing Perm Five mostly resist change that would dilute their influence: why on earth would France want to give up such an important source of global power? And this isn’t something that Obama is going to use his political capital to push for. So it’s a nice applause line in Delhi, but don’t expect more.

    More From: Obama Nudges India To Lead

  15. Wishful thinking seems to be the default coarse of Indian intellectualism. No one really genuinely supports India’s inclusion into the security council. Bush also came out in support of support of a seat for India, not that it amounted to much. India is an unreliable agent. Neither the U.S. nor anyone else expects to be able to rely on India for their vote without expending political and economic capital. Why dilute their power and share with another when there is absolutely no reason for it and plenty against? Power is taken and never given.

    Saying something and doing it are not the same thing though plenty of Indians seem to think it is. It costs Obama nothing to say nice soothing words. It takes effort to actually be able to push through for a seat for India, effort that is not going to be expended unless the U.S. can get something solid out of the bargain. It’s like wishing someone well, easy enough but it’s not like the majority of people are going to actively go out of their way to help.

  16. Well my happy spirit of this event was quashed a little after reading all the comments (isn’t that how it always is?) but, Jai Hind?

  17. Wishful thinking seems to be the default coarse of Indian intellectualism. No one really genuinely supports India’s inclusion into the security council. Bush also came out in support of support of a seat for India, not that it amounted to much. India is an unreliable agent. Neither the U.S. nor anyone else expects to be able to rely on India for their vote without expending political and economic capital. Why dilute their power and share with another when there is absolutely no reason for it and plenty against? Power is taken and never given. Saying something and doing it are not the same thing though plenty of Indians seem to think it is. It costs Obama nothing to say nice soothing words. It takes effort to actually be able to push through for a seat for India, effort that is not going to be expended unless the U.S. can get something solid out of the bargain. It’s like wishing someone well, easy enough but it’s not like the majority of people are going to actively go out of their way to help.

    Interesting you should say that Jing. For the most part Indian commentators have been very subdued about expectations, not just this time, but always. You seem to mistake party bonhomie for euphoria. Don’t worry, that’s how we Indians celebrate. Which is why you will notice Indian Ambassadors aren’t TFTA or sashaying down the catwalk types. Sure we do have the once in a while beauty+brain types like Shashi Tharoor who can conduct a conversation simultaneously in French and English while reeling off Wodehouse one liners! It’s another matter that Meira Kumar too is a Spanish scholar who can rattle Cervantes before you can say Sancho Panza, while her Dad the late Jagjivn Ram was known for his acerbic wit, as when he gently ticked off Kissinger in 1971, “But then Mr. Ram there’s nothing going on in Bangladesh,’ replied Jagjivan Ram “Really Dr. Kissinger, that sounds like, what you say, BS,”

    India is a content based culture, we are not too taken up by form and presentation. So your concerns are duly noted. In any case since we have done pretty well without a permanent chair at the high table for 65 years, we are sure another decade won’t make a difference.

  18. @jing

    I think you have touched someone’s nerve.

    @jyotsana,

    Thanks for enlightening us about how Indian politicians work and what sparks Indians’ interest but if you happened to switch on to ibnlive or read TOI, the headlines screamed of jubilant: Indians are celebrating as if they have been anointed as the next super power by a fading super power. Your Jagjivin Ram’s wit remind me of India’s media own wit about what’s happening in Kashmir: job can bribe Kashmiri to give up jihad and azadi.

  19. Anon, @jing I think you have touched someone’s nerve.

    Don’t blame Jing, it is frustrating when a ramshackle, unruly, and obstreperous country like India receives so much attention. Times are such that now in the small town where I live I can find people talking at the local diner about what is going on with Obama’s visit in India. The days of news=local news::National news=International news are long gone in the US. As our friend Moornam correctly puts it, ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s disastrous in this age.

    I don’t watch IBNLive or read the TOIlet, good idea when very few Indian darlings of the NYT/WP/Gruniad writers are well-read in any Indian language. For a start you could read the DNA or better still read the Indian language press (I read some Tamizh and Hindi and have Bengali read out once in a while). You could have also watched the townhall at SXC. Right idea about residents of the Kashmir Valley. Thugs like Geelani, Shabbir Shah and Yasin Malik are pretty cheap, for one thing they are wards of the state and receive a very generous allowance from the Central Budget. The rest of the riff-raff can be had for tuppence, they are that cheap. The Kashmiri Valley thuggery is purely a religious affair, after the jihadi thugs butchered the Pandits and drove the remainder out of the Valley, they have nothing else to turn their fury on, so they stone each other! The Valley too consumes a disproportionately high share of the stat’s expenditure in comparison with Jammu, which contributes a disproportionately high share of the state’s revenues.

  20. [quote] Wishful thinking seems to be the default coarse of Indian intellectualism. … It’s like wishing someone well, easy enough but it’s not like the majority of people are going to actively go out of their way to help. [end quote]

    Jing – just read up on Indian intellectuals, such as Roy and Chatarjee, who get published in western press and you will feel much better. IBN and NDTV are simply infotainment not unlike MSNBC and FOX, I doubt if they even pretend to be intellectuals.

  21. Of course nothing will come of it. India has a long way to go. It is still too weak, too poor, too malnourished, too ridden with casteism.

  22. Krish,

    Of course nothing will come of it. India has a long way to go. It is still too weak, too poor, too malnourished, too ridden with casteism.

    Besides they sacrifice babies, burn their widows, ride elephants, play with snakes, eat puppies and kittens (if they get anything to eat at all) and violate everyone’s human rights all the time, and I forgot to add, Indians think Arundati Roy is a jerk and darn, they don’t want to lock her up in jail!

  23. Jyotsana you’re getting a bit nutty, time to pull it back a bit :)

    India faces incredibly huge problems the most glaring of which is the 800 million people living in ABJECT poverty. There is simply no way to gloss this over and all of India’s recent advancements pale in comparison to this sad fact. Until Indians in India stop being defensive and take action to solve these issues “too weak, too poor, too malnourished, too ridden with casteism”….there can be no progress.

  24. Here’s my take today–basically two thumbs up. Regarding the endorsement of making India a permanent member of the Security Council, symbolically it was very important. But we shouldn’t pursue the implementation of this reform very diligently. 1) As Nile Gardner of the Heritage Foundation was telling me yesterday, once you start messing with composition of the Security Council, you’re opening up a Pandora’s Box and there’s no guarantee you’re going to like the results; 2) India will be a pain in the neck on the Security Council. It is a very important country and it’s wonderful that we’re drawing closer, but its prickly pridefulness and hangover of non-aligned attitudes make it a difficult diplomatic customer. A friend who has been involved in negotiating with the Indians told me yesterday if we trade France for India, it won’t be long before we miss France.

    From: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/252873/re-president-obama-india-rich-lowry

  25. Until Indians in India stop being defensive and take action to solve these issues “too weak, too poor, too malnourished, too ridden with casteism”….there can be no progress.

    Kidpoker666, we are making considerable progress on all fronts, and come up with remarkable surprises all the time. Odisha and Bihar written off as basket cases have both emerged into the sunshine and turned around in double quick time. What is most interesting about a 9%/year growth rate, is you, run into surpluses that can be used to run better welfare programs, have more money to throw around abroad, enough to arm yourself to the teeth with no limit, and give the finger to every patronising jerk.

    KP666 hurry up, there are 10 young men and women waiting to grab your job, and about a 100 kids in K-12 waiting to grab the next gen’s jobs! And the v. smart college kids in Bombay at Barry’s townhall; How valuable their tuition money is, at Jai Hind College, HR, St. Xavier’s, Elphinstone, Ruparel, Poddar, SIES etc! Spending about a fraction of a fraction of what any US university would charge, these college goers have acquired the smarts to knock the socks off any hoity-toity undergrad in the US! KP666 where you are doesn’t matter as long as you have the momentum.

    Security Council or any other, these are India’s strategic choices, to be made by democratically elected representatives. When you have been voted into power by 1.5 billion people and enjoy their confidence (like Meenakshi Natrajan, Mausam Noor, Sushma Swaraj, or A. K. Anthony) the only people you are answerable to are your constituents. Others’ opinions aren’t worth tuppence.

  26. All this courtship of India makes me nervous and uncomfortable. America is no one’s friend but its own. Right now, US thinks that between Iran/ Afghanistan/Pakistan and China, India is the safest regional power bet. The fact remains that this kind of divide and conquer, befriend one to stab the other, is typical American maneuvering in foreign policy since 1890s with its occupation of the Philippines. America uses Taiwan and Japan in similar ways.

    The history of Vietnam and Iraq and of Central America should tell us that India needs to be very careful here. All that sound about India’s rise is a recent drumbeat since India in 2002 recognized Israel and showed overture of friendship to America. Before that, it was still all slums and honor killing. The point being, India needs to protect its own first instead of getting into a position where it has to take orders from the bigger guys in the yard. Whatever India might think of itself and however positively it is showered with praise, it is nowhere near the stature of a super power. When America comes calling for favors for treating India well, what’s India going to do? Ask how high it needs to jump?

    India’s recent wealth is also very interesting in that it is from a lot of foreign investment and I see the beginnings of a bubble similar to Japan and Thailand. India’s REAL wealth are its people and its value system, which it is quickly eroding to emphasize a consumer-driven society rather than entrepreneurial society.

    India needs to be very careful here. It’s being used as a pawn by America, and unless it is ready to be a “Yes Sir, Whatever You Say Sir” kind of nation, it better be wary of all this fanfare from America and Israel.

    • The history of Vietnam and Iraq and of Central America should tell us that India needs to be very careful here. All that sound about India’s rise is a recent drumbeat since India in 2002 recognized Israel and showed overture of friendship to America. Before that, it was still all slums and honor killing. The point being, India needs to protect its own first instead of getting into a position where it has to take orders from the bigger guys in the yard. Whatever India might think of itself and however positively it is showered with praise, it is nowhere near the stature of a super power. When America comes calling for favors for treating India well, what’s India going to do? Ask how high it needs to jump?

      Recently, I came across an interesting post on the India Forum that outlines three general stereotypes of Indians:

      1) The “Faithful Soldier of the Empire” stereotype. This goes back to the colonial period, when the Raj employed Indian soldiers for their campaigns in Asia and Africa. Typically, these soldiers would come from certain “Martial Races” and they would be rewarded by their colonial masters with all sorts of awards and titles.

      2) The “Gunga Din” stereotype. It portrays Indians as too weak and incompetent to accomplish anything on their own, but willing to suffer for a good cause. This also goes back to the colonial period, when the British would use crops grown in India to support their campaigns in Asia and Africa. One good example of this stereotype at work is the World War 2 Bengal Famine.

      3) The “Benighted Heathen” stereotype. It portrays Indians as an unwashed mass that represents the antithesis of the “Civilized West”. This also goes back to the colonial period, and comes from decades of British propaganda about Suttee, Thuggee, and Untouchabilitee. For a good example of this stereotype at work, see Rudyard Kipling’s The White Man’s Burden.

      The current situation with Obama backing India for a UN seat bears a striking resemblance with stereotype #1.

  27. Also, the UN Security Council is a total joke. What has the UNSC done or achieved in the last 60 years? Or even within the last 10 years, in which two nations were occupied and millions killed?

    The entire UN system is nothing more than theatre. There is no real power held by anyone except those who truly have power: re America, American allies, and NATO. These countries can do anything it wants to and no one could or would stop them.

    Whether or not India sits at the UNSC is irrelevant. It won’t wield any power.

  28. All this courtship of India makes me nervous and uncomfortable. America is no one’s friend but its own. Right now, US thinks that between Iran/ Afghanistan/Pakistan and China, India is the safest regional power bet. The fact remains that this kind of divide and conquer, befriend one to stab the other, is typical American maneuvering in foreign policy since 1890s with its occupation of the Philippines. America uses Taiwan and Japan in similar ways.

    Indu the Great, aka Indira Gandhi once famously said, “We are not pro-Soviet Union; We are not pro-USA; We are Pro-India!” Pranab Mukherjee in 2006, then Defence Minister in a speech at Harvard University, “India’s aspiration for continuing economic growth would depend on a secure and stable environment and its own ability to integrate with the global economy.”

    Shivshankar Menon current NSA and until recently External Affairs Secretary, “This aspect of Indian strategic culture is common to what Kanti Bajpai described as the three streams of Indian strategic culture, namely, “Nehruvians”, neo-liberals and hyper-realists. They might differ on the best means but not on India’s strategic goals . To summarise Bajpai, all three streams agree on the centrality of the sovereign state in international relations and recognise no higher authority; see interests, power and violence as the staples of international relations that states cannot ignore; and think that power comprises both military and economic capabilities at a minimum.”

  29. jyotsana.

    I realize that you’re rabidly pro-India, but don’t be naive about this. India’s infrastructure is a complete mess. The wealth that is coming into India is from Western corporations that see India as a billion consumers. Gap, McDonalds, Walmart are flooding the local economy and destroying local businesses. The middle class is enjoying credit and access, but a full half of a billion peoples’ lives are of unbearable poverty. Villages after villages are still aborting females.

    Look at this example of American Agri monster Monsanto. Monsanto sold GMO seeds to poor farmers, collatoralled their farms. When crops failed, what did the Indian gov. do to help? Nothing. Hundreds of farmers committed suicide. Monsanto got its money and got to pollute local seeds with GMO seeds that are copyrighted to Monsanto. That’s right. Monsanto owns seeds and food. If that doesn’t give you chills, it should. Why is the Indian gov. giving this kind of predatory company full access to its land and farmers? Why is no one protecting these poor farmers? Because that’s India. There are no social protections because the infrastructure is broken.

    These are the games American companies are already playing in India. Right now, India’s might is only that it can be used as a pawn between Pakistan and China. Both Pakistan and China are thinking long-term and watching out for their interests. India is not. Pakistan is not India’s greatest threat. American companies, a possible financial bubble, and American foreign policy are.

    Don’t be fooled by the hype from hacks like Friedman or from neocon sites like Slate or New Republic. Those guys are only seeing war games and strategies. In the end, the poor Indians will suffer. India needs to be very careful and ask why these countries suddenly want to be friends.

    Hasn’t India learned much from centuries of colonial rule?

  30. RK, you are neither Nehruvian, neo-liberal nor a hyper-realist, and with statements like these it is difficult to take you seriously

    Gap, McDonalds, Walmart are flooding the local economy and destroying local businesses.
  31. The wealth that is coming into India is from Western corporations that see India as a billion consumers.

    Source or it didn’t happen.

    Gap, McDonalds, Walmart are flooding the local economy and destroying local businesses.

    OH NO! Indians being able to buy stuff from someone other than the local corner store? HORROR OF HORRORS!

    The middle class is enjoying credit and access, but a full half of a billion peoples’ lives are of unbearable poverty. Villages after villages are still aborting females.

    I KNOW RIGHT!? Why can’t the entire Goddamn country just hop and skip all 1 billion from abject poverty to first world status overnight? What? Like it’s hard? GOD!

    Look at this example of American Agri monster Monsanto. Monsanto sold GMO seeds to poor farmers, collatoralled their farms. When crops failed, what did the Indian gov. do to help? Nothing. Hundreds of farmers committed suicide. Monsanto got its money and got to pollute local seeds with GMO seeds that are copyrighted to Monsanto. That’s right. Monsanto owns seeds and food. If that doesn’t give you chills, it should. Why is the Indian gov. giving this kind of predatory company full access to its land and farmers? Why is no one protecting these poor farmers? Because that’s India. There are no social protections because the infrastructure is broken.

    It’s actually a hell of a lot more complicated than that. The crops fail because the Indian government has shitty riparian management and excessive subsidies on water and fertilizer for farmers, which encourages those farmers to pick up agricultural practices that aren’t sustainable over the long run. The motivation for doing these things comes from the half educated morons in the Indian bureaucracy, empowered by the half-educated liberals who harp about the only way out of poverty being to give free shit away to the poor, actual consequences for the poor be damned.

    The way out of poverty for India is through commerce and the facilitation thereof. Not through yakking about how poor it is or harping about nebulously defined “social protections.”

    Also, Slate is a neocon site? ROFL

  32. I think McDonalds, Coca Cola, and American junk food multinationals are a bit of a rentier on the world, reducing health and fitness for countries that they enter. I doubt India has the ability, but it would make the better place if they could ban McDonald’s entry into the market. I doubt it’s possible, given that even wealthier and more paternal countries haven’t mustered the political will to do so in the face of American junk food mercantalism.

    Wal-Marts are trickier, one can make a stronger case for them but the case for the role american junk food plays in the world is very weak.

    • Do you honestly think the Coca Cola is any worse for you than the sugar saturated stuff you get from the chai wallah? Do you think a McDonalds apple pie is going to be worse for you than the ghee packed sweets? People get fat because they have poor impulse control and they sit all day at their desks instead of walking around and burning calories. Soda or fast food in moderation aren’t going to hurt anyone any more than the junk they might get from the local greasy spoon in the absence of the fast food.

  33. Indu the Great, aka Indira Gandhi once famously said, “We are not pro-Soviet Union; We are not pro-USA; We are Pro-India!”

    I would interpret that to be: Indu the Great, aka Indira Gandhi once famously said, “We are not pro-Soviet Union; We are not pro-USA; We are Pro-Indira

  34. The crops fail because the Indian government has shitty riparian management and excessive subsidies on water and fertilizer for farmers, which encourages those farmers to pick up agricultural practices that aren’t sustainable over the long run. The motivation for doing these things comes from the half educated morons in the Indian bureaucracy, empowered by the half-educated liberals who harp about the only way out of poverty being to give free shit away to the poor, actual consequences for the poor be damned.

    In hte late 90s when the much maligned Chandrababu ran AP (a lot more successfully than th eCongress clowns who run the show now, I may add), his government spent ginormous sums of money on advertising to persuade farmers not to invest in cotton instead of the conventional food grains. Not many listened. Indian cash crops are very sensitive to international price trends, unlike food crops. Ask Chandrabhan Prasad what he thinks of farmer suicides and listen to him if you can stand his sneering dismissal – excessive attachment to the land like the dumb sheep of Singur, failure to embrace modernity, and the soaring cost of labor as the traditional labor jatis continue to quit the villages in droves. The last problem is the most serious as traditional agricultural labor jatis in states like Odisha have mastered new trades in 10 years flat. Today’s best plumbers, electricians, home building carpenters in the capital are dalits from Odisha, who have chosen to no longer listen to some OBC overlord. In fact the trade guilds are even setting up informal schools to train the next crop of handymen – and you guessed it right – in concert with Odiya brahmins!

    Do you honestly think the Coca Cola is any worse for you than the sugar saturated stuff you get from the chai wallah? Do you think a McDonalds apple pie is going to be worse for you than the ghee packed sweets?

    McD’s and other junk food purveyors have barely set up shop in India and the country is already the cardiac and diabetic capital of the world! We don’t know foreign junk food to grow unhealthy, a breakfast of alu paratha and jalebi, a lunch of butter nan, high tea of cakes, pakoda, follwed by five stiff Patialas and dinner of fried rice, alu fry, dal makhani, panneer korma, puris and chicken fry followed by gulab jamun – who needs McDonalds and Dairy Queen?

  35. I agree that american fast food which is known to be very unhealthy is still better than the native indian oily, sugary, spicy crap. There is also the factor that the ingredients in american junk food are known and so is the hygienic manufacture thereof, while with indian junk food you take your chances. There is a reason why indians are the unhealthiest folks in the world, and not all of it is due to malnutrition. Even the ones who get enough to eat are unhealthy.

  36. Yoga Fire: Do you honestly think the Coca Cola is any worse for you than the sugar saturated stuff you get from the chai wallah? Do you think a McDonalds apple pie is going to be worse for you than the ghee packed sweets?

    I strongly suspect so. Neither the sugary stuff from the chai wallah nor the ghee packed sweets are good for you if you are going to sit around all day. But if you must compare, coca cola or the McD apple pie are probably worse than the sugary chai, fatty sweets or the buttery, sugary apple pie that a grandma may bake in nonametown, AL.

    Breaking down food into carbs or fats or proteins assumes fundamentally that their effects are isolated from each other—nothing could be further from truth. So, if someone showed me the saturated fat or carb content of foods and therefore said McD’s coca cola isn’t really much worse than the sweet chai, I wouldn’t listen too carefully.

    We have evolved to process sugar or ghee or butter over the millenia, not so much the ingredients McD uses. Do yourself a favor, if you must binge, do it with “the sugar saturated stuff you get from the chai wallah” or the “ghee packed sweets”.

  37. We have evolved to process sugar or ghee or butter over the millenia, not so much the ingredients McD uses. Do yourself a favor, if you must binge, do it with “the sugar saturated stuff you get from the chai wallah” or the “ghee packed sweets”.

    Here is the list of purported ingredients in the Coca Cola syrup (there are a few others that are trade secrets and known to like, 4 people alive today, but they’ve been there since the late 1800s/early 1900s when Coca Cola was invented. They’re listed under the blanket category of “natural flavors.”): Coca leaf extract Kola nut extract Vanilla extract Cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, lavender, orange, lemon, and lime oils Sugar Phosphoric acid (or carbonic acid, depending) Water/alcohol mixture Glycerine

    Which of these are we not evolved to process? Kola nuts and Coca leaves have been consumed by people since the Incan era. In fact, coca was so central to the development of their civilization that they measured the length of a journey in terms of how many coca leaves you’d have to pack to get there! Vanilla and all those spices are things that are in chai anyway. The water/alcohol mixture (the alcohol is fully boiled off when they reduce it to a syrup) people have been drinking probably since before we evolved into modern humans. The only things that could possibly be construed as “unnatural” are the phosphoric acid and glycerine. But wait! Glycerine is a natural byproduct of rendering fat. So meats have glycerine in them as does the soap you wash your dishes and body in! So really, the only thing you could possibly complain about is the phosphoric acid. But you’d be hard pressed to assert that this has some negative health effects that are markedly different from citric acid or acetic acid or any of the other numerous acids humanity has been cooking with for millennia without some damn solid evidence.

    You claim fat and carbs and protein have some special extra effect when their powers combine. I have yet to see any evidence presented as to what this nutritional captain planet might be or what its effects are. Care to elucidate? It’s also not entirely clear how a McD’s hamburger will somehow have more pronounced detrimental effects than any other hamburger. The overall ratio of protein, fat, and carbs are about the same. So what exactly is the extra “ingredient X” that you think is causing the changes?

  38. Wudnerbar. The comment system eliminates all formatting on bulleted lists and turns them into words one after the other sans punctuation. . .

  39. There is a reason why indians are the unhealthiest folks in the world,

    Evidence or it didn’t happen.

  40. If India wants to advance and become a developed nation I don’t think allowing India to become a part of the UN security council is the answer. There are serious social problems in India that I sincerely hope President Obama addresses such as the entrenched misogyny and violence that Indian women experience. The caste system needs to be eradicated it is a form of discrimination that is unjust and I believe against human rights. I doubt President Obama will go that far though. Education and proper health care should also be a concern of the Indian government. The Indian government should be investing in the young and helping them to have access to higher education.

  41. Orville Douglas

    You forgot to mention the smelly spices…and also the odd sideways head nod.

    How can such a people be part of normal society? I mean lets forget about the security council, lets talk about the human council first…

  42. Is Radha Krishna the kinder, gentler Prema?

    Forget Prema, Passe, although I do have a Prema Pasam! But I am missing majnu Manju!

  43. The “Gunga Din” stereotype. It portrays Indians as too weak and incompetent to accomplish anything on their own, but willing to suffer for a good cause

    The Gunga Din stereotype is misimagined piece of fiction and has little to do with Kipling’s unforgettable classic Gunga Din. A few dozen western film makers, Indian purple in the face “peoples’ power” activists, and their followers elsewhere have understood nothing about Kipling’s character. There’s nothing in the poem that suggests a weak and incompetent person, instead it sketches a courageous character with great heart whom the civilizing colonialist fails to understand. The only time anyone understood the character is Sellers’s Hrundi Bakshi – who incidentally has just been thrown off the sets of “Son of Gunga Din”. I hope Spielberg who is said to planning a remake doesn’t mangle the classic.

  44. dude, what’s more important- the reality of the colonialists creating gunga dins or kipling’s 19th century literary tome. native americans don’t go ‘they killed off all our people, stole our land, destroyed our culture, christianized our children in seminaries disguised as secular schools, but hey you got to hand it to edgar allan poe.

  45. “The current situation with Obama backing India for a UN seat bears a striking resemblance with stereotype #1.”

    That’s a stupid statement to make, and reeks of the paternalism you allude to in your message. There are many Indians who want a UNSC seat because they feel India should have one, based on being the world’s most populous democracy, one of the ten largest economies in purchasing power parity, the 2nd most populous country, and generally a force for good in the world. It is of course possible that a few, just a few, Americans see India in the UNSC as a kind of counterbalance to China. But then, even if that’s true, there was never any advocacy of India by these Americans in the past 40-50 years. And Indians’ reasons and motives are quite different from the few Americans who wish to reward or promote India.