GO-GO YEARS ON THE GANGES
August 30, 2005
If George W. Bush wishes to be remembered in future ages, he must devote much of his second term to forging close and durable links with India, says Paul Johnson, eminent British historian and author.
Johnson regards India's economic potential as almost infinite over the long term. Consider:
- By 2050, India will have the largest population in the world -- 1.6 billion inhabitants versus China's 1.4 billion, with India's population being much younger.
- India, with its educated strata fluent in English, is leapfrogging over the industrial epoch into the advanced communications era and will soon have more English-speaking computer operators than the rest of the world combined.
- Given the climate of freedom that prevails in India, we can expect it will produce ideas, inventions and new processes of its own before long; the rule of law is essential to long-term investment on the largest possible scale.
India is also an important force on two strategic fronts. First, India will prove invaluable as a counterbalance to China if China becomes aggressive, especially toward Taiwan. Johnson says China has weaknesses in central Asia -- especially in Tibet, its much-oppressed and rebellious colony. Tibet, for many reasons, has closer affinities to India and is much closer geographically to Delhi than to Beijing.
Second, India is a counterbalance to the Muslim world. As India's standard of living rises and India takes its place at the world's head table, the inhabitants of Pakistan and Bangladesh are bound to question what is holding them back. The answer will come, he says, as it increasingly comes to Arab lands: Islamic fundamentalism.
Johnson believes all these trends can be to America's advantage, but, they must be cultivated and reinforced by intelligent U.S. policies and sophisticated diplomacy.
Source: Paul Johnson, "Look to India," Forbes Magazine, Vol. 176, No. 4, September 5, 2005.
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