M A I N   N E W S

India has arrived: Bush
Calls it a nation of opportunity
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3
Mr George W. Bush today wooed India like no other US President had ever done before and admitted that he had been “dazzled” by India.

Like a seasoned Indophile, he reeled out facts after facts, with a liberal sprinkling of quotable quotes from two great makers of India — Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru — to convey to his countrymen back home that India had arrived. “The United States and India, separated by half the globe, are closer than ever before, and the partnership between our free nations has the power to transform the world.”

In his 35-minute speech from a brightly-lit stage in the 16th century Purana Qila, televised live all over the world, Mr Bush described himself “a friend of India” and praised India to the skies. In this address to a gathering of parliamentarians, intellectuals, diplomats and academicians, he made references to Bollywood, astronaut Kalpana Chawla, tennis player Sania Mirza, “lively free Indian press” and identified the promising areas of bio-technology, Agriculture Knowledge Initiative and fight against pandemics like HIV-AIDS and avian flu for greater Indo-US cooperation.

He also talked about his upcoming visit to Pakistan. But in contrast, this time he talked only about fighting terrorism and that he would be discussing this with President Pervez Musharraf. Chalk and cheese!

He sang paens of India’s impressive economic growth and the doubling of the Indian economy since the nation was put on the path of economic reforms 16 years ago. He noted that only till some years ago, there were two million Americans of Indian origin in America and this number had now been tripled.

To give an inkling of India’s steady economic growth — his address was televised live back home at the convenient breakfast time — he made a pointed reference to the fact that there were more cellphones than landlines in India.

The centre-piece of his argument was that the US should see the rapidly-growing India as a land of opportunity instead of a threat. So, America’s best response to globalisation should not be to erect economic barriers to protect workers, but educate them to make sure they can compete on any stage.

He urged his countrymen not to respond to India’s exploding economy by closing itself off to global trade. “The United States will not give into the protectionists and lose these opportunities. For the sake of workers in both our countries, America will trade with confidence.”

He prescribed the same remedy to India too when he said “India has responsibilities too”. He urged New Delhi to lift caps on foreign investment, lower tariffs that penalise American agricultural markets and protect its workers and children from abuses.

Mr Bush used the opportunity to drive home a strong message to terrorists. “They target democracies because they think we are weak and they think we can be frightened and retreat. Terrorists have misunderstood our countries. Americans and Indians love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.”

He talked about the 300-million strong Indian middle class — a number larger than the entire US population. He mentioned how India’s booming economy had created millions of jobs. In this context, he pointed out that the Indian outsourcing industry alone was expected to bring in $ 22 billion in revenue this fiscal, much of that generated by US companies.

Mr Bush drove straight from Purana Qila to the airport and flew to the final destination of his South Asia visit — Pakistan. His itinerary was changed after yesterday’s terrorist acts in Karachi.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh telephoned Mr Bush to say goodbye.

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