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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Every American Should Be Interested in Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
by Newt Gingrich: When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the United States next week, he will do so as the winner of the largest election in history and the leader of the world’s largest democracy. Modi carried his party to victory in the May elections, when it won the greatest gains (and the first outright majority) of any Indian party in a generation.

Now, as the popular leader of 1.2 billion people, Modi is poised to become one of the most consequential figures of the 21st century. In his former post as chief minister of the state of Gujarat, Modi was a reformer and a modernizer. He pursued pro-growth economic policies, courted foreign investment, and took a tough tack against corruption. That record helped him win the election in a country frustrated by years of slower growth.

The job now before Modi as prime minister is a big one. If he wants to extend Gujarat’s economic progress to the country as a whole, he must offer policies to support the tens of millions of Indians who aspire to lift themselves into the middle class. He must clean up the government bureaucracies, which are entrenched and often corrupt. And he must have the political skill to win the public’s approval for removing other barriers to growth.

Modi faces potentially enormous domestic opposition. Every obsolete regulation has a bureaucracy and an interest group profiting from it. Every act of corruption has someone keeping the money. Every introduction of new modern competition threatens an older, more inefficient producer. Modi will have an extraordinary balancing act leading fast enough to achieve progress while carefully enough not to tear the country apart.

If he can do all of that, Modi will be an historic leader who dramatically accelerated his country’s development and improved the lives of more than a billion people.

His reception at the White House will be a remarkable reversal from just last year, when the Obama administration said it would refuse to give Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, a visa to visit the United States. Despite his status as a leading candidate to become prime minister, the State Department declined to reconsider its visa denial dating from 2005. Back then, the State Department had cited an obscure religious liberty provision of U.S. immigration law to turn away Modi based on deadly riots that took place in Gujarat in 2002 and left more than 1,000 people dead. Modi’s critics alleged that as head of the state government, he didn’t do enough to stop the attacks. Twelve years later, however, there is still no evidence linking Modi to the violence. The Indian Supreme Court cleared him of any blame after extensive investigation.

The administration's visa snub last year presumably makes for an awkward White House reception, but Americans should hope President Obama takes this opportunity to renew the friendship between the U.S. and India. Perhaps at no time in recent history have the interests of the two countries been so aligned, making this diplomatic visit an unusually important one.

India could well end up as a key strategic ally for the U.S., especially on two of the main challenges confronting this country (and in fact much of the world): the threat of radical Islamism and the rise of an internationally aggressive China.

India knows firsthand the dangers of radical Islamism, having been the victim of several major terrorist attacks itself. Its neighbor and rival, Pakistan, is on the verge of being a failed state and is controlled in part by an intelligence service which has been implicated in horrific terrorist attacks on India. More to the point, as the Obama administration rushes to shore up Afghanistan even while preparing to withdraw American troops, few other countries have as great a stake in the stability of both Afghanistan and Pakistan as India does.

Likewise, the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” was intended to strengthen ties between the U.S. and the far East and to counter an increasingly confrontational China. There’s no bigger counterweight in the region than India, which shares a border with China hundreds of miles long--the precise location of which is the subject this week of a military standoff between the two countries. No other country is geographically as well situated to stand astride China's shipping to the Middle East and Europe as is India.

India is already a crucial trading partner with the United States, but these common threats could make it a key ally in international affairs, as well. If he can begin that closer relationship, Prime Minister Modi could make his visit to the U.S. next week an historic event.
Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions.

Tags: India, Indian, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, United States, China, radical Islamism, Pakistan, terrorists, Newt Gingrich To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 5:53 PM - Post Link


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