There is little doubt that the left in India wish the United States ill–not that the U.S. has done them any harm. The Indian left, ever since the Soviet bloc collapsed and China turned capitalist and aggressive, has needed an imperialist enemy to focus their enmity upon. After all, their version of socialism or communism ruined nine odd countries whose people revolted against the rule of the proletariat and went back into the capitalist fold. So the U.S. wish to democratize other nations and slap around a few dictators evokes little sympathy in places like JNU. Opposing national stands taken in other capitals, are looked at by the Indian left benignly, unless the capital concerned is Washington. Any disagreement with Washington arises, according to the left, from an imperialist or capitalist plot, as is for instance the U.S. envoy in Delhi reporting to Washington (according to wikileaks) that dealing with a Mamta ruled Bengal would be easier than dealing with Buddhadeb. If the U.S. consular office reports that Hyderabad is the Center of an Indian visa application forgery scam, that too must be a capitalist plot.
Most Indians have a sensible view of the United States and world order. What do the sensible majority wish the U.S. to do? They certainly don’t want what they see as a huge Republican negativism in opposing the ruling party – for the sake of opposition – even if it means dragging the U.S. down. We have enough of that in our own country, where the beneficial nuclear deal was opposed by a right wing – left wing anti-national coalition in parliament, when the nuclear deal was originally a BJP idea.
May be a world led by the USA is not an ideal world – but it is more acceptable than, say, a world in which the Chinese have the last word. So the majority of Indians wonder, when is the U.S. going to pull itself out of the economic doldrums, and re-invent itself, as it has done so many times in the past? When are the happy days of oodles of I-20 visas, a thriving Silicon valley, huge back office contracts and masses of desi California weddings coming back? The US-India relationship is largely run by the people, in any case. If we left it to the government they would lower it to the same ‘estranged’ levels as existed in the 1980s. The strength of the U.S. lies in technology innovation. That innovation is converted into dual use merchandise and military power. This process is the US’ monopoly. Techno-innovation comes from concentrating the best brains around booming university towns. To make all that happen again, the U.S. government must pour money into technology innovation, start ups, entrepreneurs and university research. Will the U.S. do all that? Do they have the money to create jobs, fix medical insurance and still have enough money to plough back into the process that makes the U.S. the number one nation? Indians are worried.
Delhi has enough unpredictable allies and friends – from Myanmar to Bangladesh to Sri- Lanka and Afghanistan. But all these unpredictabilities are small compared to the future of the US. Even two U.S. authors of Indian origin have joined in predicting a failing future for the U.S. – but the majority refuse to give up hope. Of course Obama’s speech on cheap Indian medicine doesn’t help. Hasn’t he seen that the U.S. and India grow rich together? Or that, if the U.S. launches another technological revolution, in say, alternate energy, the Indians in the U.S. will link Indian back offices and labs to execute that revolution to the mutual advantage of both countries?
The Indian government is just as wayward as the U.S. government – flirting with a non-entity of alphabets like BRIC. We really have nothing in common with China buying our iron ore and dumping manufactured goods on us. Our relationship with Brazil is a really stretched concept. The bilateral relationship with Russia is healthy and strong without lumbering it with China and Brazil, in a pointed slap to the Americans. But that is what governments do – make diplomatic headlines that are of no consequence on the ground.