Sunday, March 01, 2009

# Posted 2:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OBAMA AND THE SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRES: I just saw Slumdog for the first time last night. A truly deserving winner, IMHO. Also, a good moment to reflect on the flourishing relationship between the US and India.

Asia is one part of the world where even Democrats say George Bush did a very good job. As Dan Twining observes, Dubya's most important achievement in Asia was the firm establishment of a strategic partnership with India. Then why, Dan asks, does the Obama administration seem so uninterested in India? Why wasn't Prime Minister Singh one of the first world leaders Obama telephoned from the Oval Office? Why didn't Secretary of State Clinton even consider stopping in India during her maiden voyage to Asia?

Peter Pham raised some of the same red flags earlier this month in a column entitled "Ignoring India". Peter writes that the Obama administration has already provoked criticism in New Delhi for its careless handling of the Kashmir issue. India has also cast a wary eye on Obama's outreach to American protectionists:
Currently the United States is India’s largest trading partner, with bilateral commerce worth some $41.6 billion in 2007. America is also the largest source of foreign investment in India. Indeed, one of the most egregious protectionist elements in the stimulus bill making its way through Congress, the ban on using imported iron and steel in infrastructure projects, is already being interpreted in India as a swipe at two of the country’s largest firms, ArcelorMittal and Tata Steel, respectively the world’s largest and sixth largest steel producers.
Both Peter and Dan's columns should be read in their entirety.

Now, turning back to Slumdog for a moment, I have to wonder whether Indians have mixed feelings about the prominence it has given their country on the global stage. In the film, India is a place where policemen casually torture innocent suspects, Hindu mobs slaughter Muslim women, beggar children have their eyes put out by their Fagin-esque guardians, sex trafficking is rampant and so is Dickensian poverty.

If you want to know why our strategic partnership with India is essential, this film won't provide any answers.

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
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