In the light of America’s re-election of its leader and China’s inauguration of a new one, Inder Malhotra discusses India’s links with the two mega-powers.
Just eight days after President Barack Obama’s re-election, China’s new, sixth-generation leadership took over far more smoothly than was generally expected. No wonder, therefore, that the two landmark events have become a signal for India to have a close re-inspection of its relationship with both nations. After all, they are now the world’s two biggest powers — China a rising one both economically and militarily, while the United States remains the world’s mightiest, if declining, power, still determined to maintain its global leadership.
As it happened, the East Asia Summit in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, on November 20 enabled Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to have a brief encounter with Obama, during which the US president declared that India was a ‘big part’ of his plans for the next four years. Singh’s meeting with the outgoing Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao — the fourteenth in eight years — was longer, during which Wen conveyed equally glad tidings about the future relations between Asia’s two largest countries. Whether promises are matched by performance remains to be seen. However, let me summarize briefly the present-day Indian appraisal and expectations.
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