Event ReportsPublished on Feb 10, 2005
Mr. Strobe Talbott, President of Brookings Institution and former US deputy secretary of state, said that the improvement in Indo-US relations is not as real as it should be. Mr. Talbott was delivering a talk at the ORF Mumbai University on February 10, 2005.
India, US drivers of globalisation: Strobe Talbott
Mr. Strobe Talbott, President of Brookings Institution and former US deputy secretary of state, said that the improvement in Indo-US relations is not as real as it should be. Mr. Talbott was delivering a talk at the ORF Mumbai University on February 10, 2005. He was in the city at the invitation of the Observer Research Foundation.

Laying the ground for the talk, Professor Abhay Pethe agreed that the Indo-US ties have broken out the Cold War suspicions. He, however, added that the relationship is still tied to several crucial questions like the continued US military aid to Pakistani and rise of neo-conservatives in the US.

Mr. Talbott began his talk expounding his and Brookings Insitution's special relationship with Observer Research Foundation. "We are proud to be associated with ORF. We have a lot to learn from India, on democracy and civil society," he said. He said that similar values and missions of both the organisations brought them together.

From a historical point of view, he said that US and India should be ashamed of themselves for wasting an opportunity. Partly blaming the US attitude during the Cold War of 'if you are not with us, you are against us' for the wasted opportunity, Mr. Talbott said it is commendable that the last decade has the 'era of estrangement' turn into an 'era of engagement'.

Citing how personal chemistry can bring people, institutions and governments together, he recalled the special relationship that formed between the former Indian prime minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former US president Mr. Bill Clinton. "What we see today is the result of their efforts," he said.

He described Mr. Vajpayee's address to America's both houses -- where the former Indian prime minister called India and US as 'natural allies' -- as path-breaking in Indo-US relations.

Defining the concept of 'natural allies', Mr. Talbott said, "Both countries are on the same side of democracy, US being the oldest and India being the largest; both countries are on the same side on the war on terrorism, both had attacks on their capital cities within 100 days." 

He said that terrorism is not just as 'ism' today. He defined it as 'global menace. He agreed that there was an apparent dichotomy in a democratic US maintaining friendly relations with undemocratic countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

But he justified such relations saying that inter-linkages are essential in a globalised world, especially in the case of undemocratic countries where engagement with them throws open the possibility of changing them.

He said it would be immature to define globalisation as good or bad. "It is a fact of life and we have to deal with it," he said. "The challenge before us is to make sure that beneficial effects prevail over the harmful effects." 

He said globalisation has divided the world of 6 billion into winners and losers. "Right now the ratio is 50:50, which is not a healthy one. The challenge to all the mankind is to reverse this ratio, because if the losers increase they will pick up arms against modernity and globalisation," he said.

He said that both India and the US are drivers of globalisation. "Twelve per cent of the US populations lives below poverty line, while 25% of India is below it. It is necessary for both countries to reduce the divide," he said.

On Sino-Indian ties, he said that India and China constitutes one third of humanity. He said that relations between the two countries have improved tremendously in the last two decades. The extent of the improvement, he said, can be gauged from the fact that China is India's second biggest trading partner. 

On several analysts considering India as a counter weight to growing Chinese influence in Asia, he said, "It is like treating India as a trump card in a poker game." 

On India's relations with Pakistan, he said the ties are back on track, especially post-Kargil "All this happened because there is a certain degree of trust that has developed between US and India on the subject of Pakistan," he said.

He recalled the role played by Mr. Clinton in forcing Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to withdraw from the heights of Kargil. He said change in Pakistani's policies have come about peace of the US approach of 'either with us or against us' on the issue of terrorism.

Answering questions from the audience, he said that the US foreign policy can be expected to be less unilateral in future since the personalities manning top positions have changed. 

He said three things that made US a superpower -- military might, dollar power and American values - are all on a downswing. 

On the contentious issue of Business Process Outsourcing he said that a study conducted by the economists from Brookings Institution proves that it actually leads to a net increase in jobs. He said that as long as US had jobless growth, politicians will keep exploiting the issue at election time. 

On UN's role he said that it is inefficient, but indispensable. He blamed the US government for weakening it deliberately. He strongly advocated India's should be a permanent member of its Security Council.
The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.