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US views relations with India important to tackle China: Markey

PTI | Last Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 - 09:46

Washington: The US is likely to have an interest in seeing India achieve its ambitions of growth and power and views a good relationship with the country as necessary for managing the implications of a rising China, a noted American scholar has said.

"The United States is likely to have an interest in seeing India achieve its ambitions of growth and power. On the whole, this will be true even if New Delhi never seeks or accepts a formal alliance with Washington," says Daniel Markey in his latest book 'No Exit from Pakistan' which hit the book stores this month.

Markey says, both the Bush and Obama administrations have correctly viewed a good relationship with India as necessary for managing the implications of a rising China.

Leaders in both capitals across a wide range of the political spectrum have proclaimed the world's oldest and largest democracies to be "natural allies", he wrote.

In addition to its own rising power and appeal to American businessmen and policymakers alike, India also offers a pluralist and democratic alternative to the authoritarian Chinese model, he wrote.

Among other common interests, New Delhi shares Washington's interest in at least hedging against the risks associated with China's rising influence.

Assuming India's economy grows apace, it will offer an additional wealth-creating engine for a region that might otherwise depend too heavily on Beijing, he noted. And in areas where size matters, India delivers: its population is young and growing quickly, likely to surpass China's total by 2025, he said.

Markey suggested the reasons for the US hedging its bets over India in the Asia Pacific region is its massive army which is making huge investments in purchasing equipment and technology.

"On the military front, India lags far behind China in many capabilities, but unlike America's allies in East Asia such as Japan, Korea, or Australia, India's army brings massive manpower, and all of its services are investing billions of dollars in new purchases of equipment and technology," he said.

At the same time, Markey says that India's rise is likely, but not assured. Many of the primary obstacles to India's rise are internal ones, such as ineffective state institutions, entrenched poverty, insufficient infrastructure, and political corruption.

"But Pakistan remains the greatest external threat to Indian growth and security. India and Pakistan are locked in a hostile relationship that has nearly spiralled into war on several occasions even after they both tested their nuclear weapons in 1998," he writes.

"Looking to the future, Pakistan's own weakness and fragility will also pose realistic threats to India. If Pakistan falls into an extended civil conflict, India would face the prospect of millions of refugees, or worse, of energised revolutionary movements aspiring to take their violent struggle beyond Pakistan and into Muslim-majority communities in India.

"Like South Korea, India might manage to grow in the shadow of its threatening, nuclear-armed neighbour, but India lacks (and might not even accept) a superpower patron to foot its security bill as the United States has done for South Korea over decades," Markey wrote.

Then, there is the open question of how China is likely to play its cards in India and Pakistan, he observed.

"Since the 1960s, Pakistan has been a useful Chinese ally for multiple reasons, not the least of which has been Islamabad's ability to distract and bloody India," he said.

Since the 1990s, as China's economy has grown and even its trading relationship with India has boomed, Beijing has been more inclined to pursue regional stability to discourage hostility between India and Pakistan, even to the point of placing firm pressure on its ally in Islamabad in times of crisis, he said.

First Published: Friday, October 18, 2013 - 09:46
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