Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Visit

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India is one of my favorite foreign head of states (along with Tony Blair). I am always partial toward economist, and Dr. Singh is a brilliant economist. He helped ushered in the a new era of economic reform when he was India Finance Minister in 1991 – 1995, moving India away from Soviet style plan economy and closer to Free Market Economy. Ever since, Indian economy continued to grow.

I am quite please (actually thrill) by his visit to the US. On July 19th, he delivered an address to a joint-session of Congress. Dr. Singh spoke with forceful clarity on terrorism.

The very openness of our societies makes us more vulnerable, and yet we must deal effectively with the threat without losing the openness we so value and cherish. India and the United States have both suffered grievously from terrorism and we must make common cause against it. We know that those who resort to terror often clothe it in the garb of real or imaginary grievances. We must categorically affirm that no grievance can justify resort to terror.

Democracies provide legitimate means for expressing dissent. They provide the right to engage in political activity, and must continue to do so. However, for this very reason, they cannot afford to be soft on terror. Terrorism exploits the freedom our open societies provide to destroy our freedoms.

The United States and India must work together in all possible forums to counter all forms of terrorism. We cannot be selective in this area. We must fight terrorism wherever it exists, because terrorism anywhere threatens democracy everywhere.

PM Singh made an honest assessment on India economic reform, recognizing the slow progress. However he articulate a clear vision for reform.

We are often criticised for being too slow in making changes in policy, but democracy means having to build a consensus in favour of change. As elected representatives, you are all familiar with this problem. We have to assuage the doubts and calm the fears that often arise when people face the impact of change. Many of the fears we have to address are exaggerated, but they must be addressed. This is necessary to ensure sustainability. India's economic reforms must be seen in this light: they may appear slow, but I assure you they are durable and irreversible.

PM Singh also spent a great deal talking about Trade.
India's growth and prosperity is in American interest. American investments in India, especially in new technology areas, will help American companies to reduce costs and become more competitive globally.

Equally, India's earnings from these investments will lead to increased purchases from the United States. The information technology revolution in India is built primarily on US computer related technology and hardware. There are many other examples of such two-way benefits, with both sides gaining from the process.
US firms are already leading the foreign investment drive in India. I believe 400 of the Fortune 500 are already in India. They produce for the Indian market and will hopefully also source supplies from India for their global supply chains. We welcome this involvement and look forward to further expansion in the years ahead. India needs massive foreign direct investment, especially in infrastructure. I hope American companies will participate in the opportunities we are creating.
Prime Minister Singh visit to the US is an important milestone in US -India relation. Throughout the Cold War, relation has been cold and distance. Today, relation between two countries has not been better. The credit goes to the current administration, especially Secretary Rice, for reaching out to India. This administration understands that in the Post Cold War world, India is an important global player.

The decision to boost nuclear tie with India is an important decision. Prime Minister Singh in his address made the promise that India will never proliferate nuclear technology. Unlike rouge states like Iran and North Korea, India word ought to be trusted and honored because India is an exemplary democracy. The current non-proliferation concept is outdated because it assumes that all countries (except the permanent five) are the same and equal. This unrealistic concept is the result of the moral equivalency. Liberal democracies are morally superior to undemocratic states. Liberal democracies are less likely to proliferate weapon-of-mass-destruction, less likely to engage in aggression against neighbors. India is such a country. In fact, so far India has show be far more responsible than Russia (which is sliding toward tyranny) and China (which is still a tyranny). Compare to Russia past behavior concerning their weapon arsenals, the concern of India is sorely misplaced.


Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

I agree. I think this was a very important step and the only possible rational decision.

The US must stand with other democracies or it has no hope. India is a pluralistic democracy and it has weathered many struggles to get there. Like the US, it can never succeed unless it fosters the true principles of democracy. Both the US and India are forced by demographics to recognize people as individuals and accord individuals equal rights, or we will doom ourselves to eternal war.

It is a huge irony, isn't it, that a country with such an incredibly long pedigree and a country that is such a newborn (compared to India) find themselves in the same position?

I believe that India will greatly outstrip China because it is a democracy.

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Mixed Humor said...

Interesting read...we posted a link to it.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Pedro said...

The Economist did a great comparative profile of China and India a few months ago. China is growing faster and with less mess than India right now, but it can't last because it's only due to the fact that it has the "efficiency" of a dictatorship with no real political dissent. At some point, China is going to reach the stage of development where the people demand more rights, environmental protection, intellectual freedom, and so forth. There will be unrest, and China will have to sacrifice some of its unrealistic growth in exchange for more democracy. India, however, will continue to progress.

To align with a democratic, anti-terror (and largely pro-American) India is an absolute necessity. India should also join the UN Security Council.

11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that Dr. Singh gets it so absolutely right, "We must categorically affirm that no grievance can justify resort to terror," and Ken Livingston gets it so wrong. "Under foreign occupation and denied the right to vote, denied the right to run your own affairs, often denied the right to work for three generations, I suspect that if it had happened here in England, we would have produced a lot of suicide bombers ourselves." From his BBC interview at

11:51 AM  
Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

Because Singh is the real thing - seeking to build - and Livingston is a posturer. That having been said, even Livingston is now supporting the police with their shoot-to-kill policy.

5:31 PM  
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11:57 PM  

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