Jaipur Literature Festival: China’s rising global influence brings India, US closer, says ex-official

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Jaipur: The Indo-US relations despite a perpetual question mark hovering over its stability and future, are likely to strengthen given few common goals, most prominent being China. This argument was the mainstay of Howdy! America – a thought provoking panel discussion at the 13th Jaipur Literature Festival.

Bringing world renowned experts on the subject – former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, award winning journalist Jeffery Gettleman, the session was moderated by former Indian Ambassador to the United States Navtej Sarna.

Sarna observed that while the bilateral ties between the two countries look a shade better right now, it is mired with a speck of doubt that something may go wrong anytime. Responding to this, Saran’s clearly put that the convergence of interests between India and US has become stronger since the end of the Cold War.

“This convergence has not led the two nations sitting on the opposite sides of the fence. Instead it will be fortified given the fact that they are democracies,” he said. Saran, however, agreed with Gettleman that India is not as committed to the partnership as US because “our interests are different”.

“India is cautious in treading ahead with US because it knows the latter won’t think twice before putting its interests ahead and giving a raw deal to the former.”

The Pulitzer winner had found Indo-US diplomatic ties fascinating, at the same time agreeing that US thinks it can have its way with India. “It has this fantasy that it can push India around to achieve its goals, the primary of which currently is emergence of China as a global power. US also accepts that being a booming economy, India is a great business partner but it is yet to learn how to maneuver some very Indian things like red tape etc.”

The bonhomie between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump during PM Modi’s visit to US in September 2019, according to the panelists, was a decisive indicator of the rise of Indian diaspora in US electorate.

Amidst speculation if President Trump would be re-elected to the White House, Gettleman recalled his reportage when Bobby Jindal contested as the Governor of Louisiana which was also telling of their affiliation for the Right.

“Indians have increased their power in US polls. While one will assume that they would be Democrats given their affluence and education, they are far-Right, and they were among Jindal’s biggest supporters,” he said.

About US blowing hot, blowing cold on Pakistan, Saran said that more than the immediate neighbor, India should fuss about China. “Pakistan is not an important country for India; it is a vital tool for domestic politics. It is not US but India that is always making a big deal of Pakistan. It should instead, do the same for China.”